27 Nov 7 Tips to Be a More Sustainable Traveler
Pink rhododendron flowers and happy young woman on summer mountainside(Ukraine, Carpathian Mountains)
Travelling, unfortunately, isn’t always the most sustainable activity. But, if you’re concerned about the environment and local communities, there are plenty of things you can do to limit the effect your travels have upon them.
Here are seven tips to be a more sustainable traveler:
Research Tour Operators
Not all tour operators have the same ethics with regards the environment and local communities. I’ve found that the best tours use local guides and can give you information on their ethical credentials. Don’t be afraid to ask before you buy if you’re set on travelling more sustentable. Many companies advertise themselves as ethical operators because they know it’s a good marketing tactic so you should check they have the knowledge and info to back up their claims.
Just as some tour operators talk up their sustainability, so too do many accommodation options. Do a little research before booking. You can find accommodation that operates with the environment in mind, using less water and using locally sourced products where possible. Ask these 10 simple questions to find out if they really have a sustainable philosophy. Alternatively, forgo a traditional hotel or hostel in favour of a short term flat share. It will be an, even more, local (and sustainable) experience.
Plastic bags and containers are a huge problem for our environment. They find their way into oceans, endangering the lives of sea creatures and changing their habitats. Avoid plastic wherever possible when you travel. This could mean carrying a tote bag around with you for any purchases you make. Also, take your own water bottle and drink local tap water where it’s safe to. Alternatively, purify local water with tablets or, if you do need to buy bottled water, try to buy glass bottles that can be recycled.
We all know that travelling by plane has a big impact on your carbon footprint. If you have the time, travelling more slowly can really help the environment (and help you avoid that dreaded jetlag too!). Trains are a better option than air travel and allow you to see more of the countries you’re passing through. Even better, hike, cycle or kayak some of your routes!
Don’t Support Mistreatment of Wildlife
In many countries around the world, you’ll find animals being used as a tourist attraction. For instance, you can visit tiger temples and go on elephant rides in Thailand. Consider the lives these animals lead and do your best not to fund and encourage keeping animals in captivity. In addition, don’t pay street performers for photographs of their exotic animal pets and don’t buy any wildlife products – you may be inadvertently supporting the trafficking of endangered animals.
Leave No Trace
Wherever in the world, you go to enjoy the great outdoors, always remember the “Leave No Trace” mantra. If you’re camping or hiking, take all of your rubbish with you and don’t remove any natural elements from the environment as a souvenir.
Support the Local Economy
Locally made handicrafts sometimes come at a price. And some travel destinations will also import fake handicrafts that have actually been made in China. These can be bought for a cheaper price – always tempting when you’re travelling on a budget – but they don’t support the local economy in quite the same way. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect holiday keepsake, try to find out where the items you buy have been made.
Travelling sustainably may mean travelling more slowly. It definitely means thinking more about where you go and what you do while you explore the world. The good news is, the more we opt for sustainable travel options, the more available they’ll become.
About the author:
An avid traveler, a huge fan of photography and an animal lover – that’s how Michelle Arios describes herself when asked who she is. Whenever not visiting yet another country, Michelle is found writing on behalf of BizDb.co.nz or taking Social Media courses. Feel free to follow her on @MichelleArios.