We all enjoy traveling to different destinations; with the millions of hotels dotted around the world, easy access to hundreds of flights and many tours available to go on. Being a tourist has never been as easy as it is now. Why wouldn’t you take a trip away from normal life? But the thing is we never really think about the effects these travels have on the environment and the local region we go to, things such as CO2 emissions and water usage. Let’s stop being that typical tourist and become a well-seasoned responsible traveler. Continue reading to uncover a few simple ways you can be sustainable while traveling.
First of all, what is a responsible traveler?
You may be asking this question in your head, well a responsible traveler is someone who makes positive impacts while traveling through countries; instead of adding damage to these beautiful destinations. They help to benefit both the Environment & local native people in the region they are visiting. Being aware of pressures the country is facing- such as water shortage, animal endangerment, and pollution to name a few; and trying to not add to these problems.
Here are some ways to be a more responsible traveler:
1. Stay in locally-run accommodation
You may not think it but your accommodation has an impact on the country you are visiting; while staying in big hotel chains may not necessarily cause huge damage, staying in locally owned hotels, B&B’s and even homestay, makes such a big difference to you and the destination you are in. Experience life like a local by staying with the natives, you not only get the chance to experience the culture first hand but you can even develop your language skills with your homestay family and get advice from them as to where is the best places to eat and visit. Also by doing this, you help the local economy- as the money goes into the community.
2. Conserve your water
Booking your family all-inclusive holiday in a hotel chain may be the easiest thing to do with the endless supply of running water throughout your trip. You don’t realize how much your water usage affects the locals, especially in such areas where drought is a major problem for the country. Controlling how much water you use on your trip would be beneficial for preserving the environment and not use water that isn’t necessarily there. For instance, you could not use the fresh towels every day service your hotel offers and simply reuse your towels- reducing the amount of water the hotel uses for laundry, even take short showers instead of long baths and carry a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day.
There are many ways you could reduce your water intake while still have a great holiday. But here’s another option you could always book your holiday with hotels that are a part of the Rainforest Alliance; they work endlessly to conserve water throughout all their properties while spreading awareness about water conservation & drought issues.
3. Give back while visiting
Your holiday may be to get away from work and stress of your normal life back home, so of course lying on the beach, by the pool or taking a city tour for the day is what you go on holiday for. What if your trip could become more beneficial for you, the local people, and the environment? Would you try making a difference while traveling?
Get out and volunteer, it doesn’t have to be a lot just a simple few hours would make all the difference, you could volunteer at a local conservation site or simply just giving a homeless person some water and food. The little things help.
But one thing I would say is to be careful; you are in a different country so people & cultures are so diverse it can be difficult to know if you are allowed to help, just ask and I guarantee you that the local people in your chosen destination would be so happy and appreciate the help.
4. Try to avoid the selfies with exotic animals
We can all too often add an encounter with a lion or monkey to our bucket lists. Posing for a picture with a tiger or riding on an elephant’s back. It can all seem like harmless fun on your travels. Now we probably have done something in our lifetime that involves animals for instance camel rides in the desert or going to a circus.
Seeing these wild animals on your adventures can be a memorable part of any trip but you may not be aware of the hidden cruelty and abuse these animals suffer all for entertainment purposes.
Make your next trip cruelty free; you could even save an animals life by avoiding these activities, which would be more memorable I believe.
5. Carry reusable items with you
This tip is more about helping the environment; I noticed on my last trip how much plastic & how many paper napkins are used in holiday resorts, restaurants, and even bars; if I’m honest, it’s a scary amount. I bet you have never thought about the effects this has on the environment, how many drinks have you had in a plastic cup with a plastic straw? Because we don’t see where our trash goes doesn’t mean it just disappears right?- well according to environmental agencies approximately 500 million plastic straws end up in landfill every day- that is a crazy amount of waste, on just straws alone.
What if you carried your own with you throughout your trip would you? Knowing that you will stop adding to the damaging impacts on the earth, oh and not to mention it will make your drinks look a lot nicer.
6. Eat local cuisine
Instead of sticking to the typical chips and Coca-Cola meal, why not expand on your tastes while on holiday- make it an adventure for your palette as well.
Try the foods the locals would eat on a regular basis. Be a part of the community on your travels.
7. Travel using other forms of transport
CO2 emissions are something a sustainable traveler would be aware of. As planes are easy to catch from one country to another, then taxis within the country you are visiting to get to and from places. Many of us do not think about the emissions given off by these means of transport.
Consider taking a train, or boat to your destination, these can make a trip all the more adventurous as well as reduce your impact. Take local transport to your chosen destination such as tuk tuk or trains, or even go one better and walk around the area; let your inner explorer out.
8. Respect other cultures
Respect for other cultures is something that should be addressed; as travelers, adhering to local community rules is crucial. Not only does it helps build a good relationship with locals but aids your experience into the culture. Such things include dressing appropriately and being mindful about where and when you snap your photos. In many temples, you are expected to cover your shoulders in order to show respect.
These few tips should help you become a more sustainable traveler; remember to respect local culture, experience life like a local and just enjoy your travels in a foreign country. Have the adventure of a lifetime. Don’t forget to take photos – respectfully! – and release your inner explorer.
What have we missed? Let us know in the comments below!