Sustainable travel is a burning issue in today’s world.
We live in a beautiful world. There are wonders to be seen everywhere if only we have a mind to observe and a spirit of appreciating. But often, to appreciate the world around us, we have to leave our everyday lives behind.
For many of us, this is impossible. We have jobs, families, and responsibilities that make it challenging to take a week or more off to visit a new country, let alone the time and money it takes to travel sustainably.
But trust us, it is not as difficult as you may think. In this blog post, we’ll talk about sustainable travel and how you can support sustainable travel in every trip you take.
What is sustainable travel?
Sustainable travel is the act of traveling without causing harm to the environment or people. It’s about respecting your destination, both by being a respectful guest and by not over-exploiting it.
Sustainable travel means having a positive impact on the planet as you travel. It’s about traveling without causing harm to the environment or people. Sustainable travel is not just about preserving rare species and protecting endangered environments, although these are essential parts of it. It’s also about not over-exploiting a destination searching for that perfect snapshot.
There are many ways to do sustainable travel, but three main ideas are the basis of it all:
- Respect for the destination: Locals will appreciate you if you respect their culture and don’t go around shouting about your vacation. Likewise, it’s a good idea to look out for locals that may need help with their livelihood once you’ve left because they won’t get much help if you’re gone a couple of days and then back again.
- Respect for the environment: It means not taking more than what nature offers and not leaving anything behind that will be hard to dispose of properly when leaving.
- Respect for people: It means understanding that you are an ambassador and not just another guest in a place you’re visiting.
Respect is the essential thing to have in mind when doing sustainable travel. But it’s not enough- you should also think about how you will contribute to a better world and how you want to leave a legacy.
How can we support sustainable travel?
Humans have been traveling for thousands of years. We’ve grown accustomed to being tourists from the first nomadic hunter/gatherers to the modern-day tourist. We have an urge to be different, brave, and bravely different.
It has caused us to destroy entire continents and make it so that our species is probably on a path of extinction (which is still in its very early stages). It’s time for new ways of thinking and new ways of traveling.
Here are some simple but effective tips to support sustainable travel:
1. Do not engage in animal tourism!
Owing to human greed, tourism for animals is on the rise. From the well-known pandas in China to endangered tigers in Nepal, many animal tourists visit these areas solely to photograph and even ride these endangered species.
Animal tourists are contributing to a growing trade in illegal wildlife and poaching. Make sure you visit an area with a sustainable tourism plan.
It is for the sake of animals. Tourists may think they are doing good, but you might realize that it’s more harmful than beneficial if you stop to think. Animal tourism can be inhumane and cause animals to suffer. They can be stolen, chained, and held captive in compounds for your amusement.
You can visit them in nature instead of doing animal tourism.
2. Choose natural food options
Wisely more often than not, eating local produce and cooking in your accommodation is the best way to enjoy your holiday. In addition to being a fantastic way to save money and get off the beaten track, it reduces environmental impact by avoiding the need for transporting food in containers, washing produce, and so on.
Avoid the temptation of taking touristy or over-commercialized foods when you travel, such as American fast-food chains. It’s best to support local economies and know where your food comes from. If you are on a trek through the jungle or doing an activity that requires bringing food supplies, then it might be most sensible to prepare your food in an environmentally friendly way.
It will be hard for some of you, but it’s a big step towards sustainability. You can also eat at places that give you recycling options, or you can ask the bus to stop somewhere where people are selling food on the streets.
3. Road travel
Public transport, like buses and trains, is a more sustainable way of getting about. They’re cheaper and often more convenient than taxis too. Plus, by opting for public transport, you get a good sense of the place and daily life.
You even might meet some locals that will show you around for cheaper rates than tour guides.
As for renting a vehicle, like a bike or a motorcycle, remember to make sure it’s working correctly– and perhaps not ride it during heavy rain, especially if you are in an area where the roads cannot drain rainwater well.
The most environmentally friendly way to get around the city is by car-sharing.
One can rent a hybrid or electric vehicle for a fraction of the price of a regular car. It’s not just good for the environment; you’ll also be helping the local economy. This way, you will easily find a car for rent from established companies and meet other travelers who are also interested in being more sustainable.
However, once you have decided what to do with your transportation, it’s essential to think about what transportation is (and isn’t) available in the place you visit.
4. Air travel
Avoid the plane and take the train. Those take care of the air pollution for you. Don’t just take any train; make sure the place you’re going to takes high-speed trains and that your ticket brings something back to the environment or people working on it.
However, it is impossible to travel to some places without catching a flight. If you’re flying, we recommend that you offset your flight. It means paying a little extra on your ticket to help fund projects that will cut carbon emissions, like wind farms, biomass, and solar power.
Another way to offset your flight is by using renewable energy. For example, if you fly over the Atlantic from London to New York, which is just over 3 hours long and cuts my carbon emissions by around 2 tons, you can offset it for around £40 (just under $60).
5. Avoid giving anything second-hand to the locals
When travelers visit remote areas, they tend to feel humble and give used clothes, books, and stationery items to the locals of remote areas. As generous as it is, it is said to encourage a sense of dependency and a culture of begging.
It would be best to donate to a local organization or international non-profit groups that partner with the organization.
6. Think About Your Purchases
Invest in eco-friendly travel products, such as solar chargers and reusable water bottles, to reduce your environmental impact.
What are some good souvenirs to buy from an environmentally friendly trip? It is a difficult question because there are many different types of souvenirs.
If you have a budget, then it is best to purchase items made by hand, like handmade journals. There are many artisan shops in Europe where you can find something that has been made with care and love, like a water bottle.
7. Go local
We believe in going local, that is, by living the local lifestyle. By supporting local companies, you are also supporting the community and the people who live and work there.
You can buy some food and beverages in bulk and save a lot of money.
Also, buy local handicrafts. It is a great way to support the arts of an area. In many regions, handcrafts can be done by poor people who make the travel sustainably.
8. Use green energy and energy-efficient devices
What are your tips for going green? We’ve compiled a list of the best ways to have more sustainable practices in your everyday life.
Always turn off all lights, heat/AC, and television. Use solar energy to power your home if you can.
Energy-efficient devices are more cost-effective in the long run.
Save money on your heating and cooling costs by making sure your windows are un-shaded, and the temperature is set to a comfortable level.
Use compact fluorescent light bulbs to save money, and consider that you’re contributing to the disposal of toxic materials when used in traditional light sources like incandescent bulbs.
Do not use electricity in areas where it is still expensive and limited to small power villages. Instead of using a refrigerator, you can use a cooler or an insulated container to keep food cold when in hot locations.
9. Say no to plastic
Plastic pollution is rampant. Plastic is harmful to the environment and never breaks down.
When you’re out shopping for souvenirs and food, you may be given a plastic or paper bag to carry your stuff around in. Take it upon yourself to refuse the bag and bring your own instead – that way, if you don’t get given a bag, at least you know that there will be less of it just lying around for the tourists who follow.
10. Don’t litter
It is a common perception that governments are supposed to take care of cleaning nature, but we cannot always count on the government to do their part.
Littering affects wildlife negatively. Every time we throw something away, there is a possibility that an animal could eat it or that it can end up in the ocean and hamper the sealife.
There are already many animals that are in danger of extinction because of humans. When we help to reduce this number, we will allow nature to function correctly once again.
Also, avoid polluting the water with soda and juices. Drinking carbonated beverages is detrimental to the environment because it requires water to be purified and processed for the beverage.
11. Choose sustainable tourism accommodation
Stay in hotels with a low impact on the environment and social harmony. Many hotels and B&Bs now offer a lower impact option, which can help you relax while also supporting the environment.
Ask your travel agent about a Green Choice scheme – this could be an overnight stay in a forest or historic house, a bike ride, or even cooking classes.
12. Choose a sustainable tour guide
Tour guides can have an enormous impact on an area. For example, in some places, they bring visitors to endangered species and help poachers to find rare animals. You can avoid this kind of activity when you hire a responsible tour operator or book a visitor’s program from locals, such as hikes through the jungle or camping on the beach.
13. Stay in homestays run by local people
Homestays are a great way to get an authentic experience of the country you’re visiting. You’ll stay with a local family, and they’ll share their favorite foods, customs, and traditions with you. In many countries in Central America and the Caribbean, homestays are a cheaper and much more fun way to travel that will help you better understand what life is like for people who aren’t rich.
Lastly, enjoy the moment. Know that you’re doing something special by taking a vacation. You should feel outstanding about it because you’re not only saving money but also making an investment in the future by doing something good for the environment.
Be Proud of Yourself. It is perhaps the most important tip to remember. Think of traveling sustainably not just to save the planet but to save yourself and the future generations to follow.