Travelling the world is incredible, but it’s important to consider the environmental, social, and economic consequences of our adventures. High levels of tourism have huge effects on the local people and businesses of your destination, so taking the time to ensure your impact is positive rather than negative makes a real difference in both the short and long term. Putting environmental and humanitarian issues at the forefront of travel is more than just a passing trend, with the option to be more environmentally and socially friendly becoming increasingly accessible to the average traveller. Interested in being more responsible?
Below you’ll find a range of easy and effective ways to ensure you’re travelling sustainably on your next trip.
See also: The Awesome Truth About Solo Travel
Clean Up After Yourself
Starting off with an obvious one that seems to get overlooked, cleaning up rubbish and waste after yourself should be a no-brainer. Particularly for the campers among us, ensuring we leave nothing but footprints behind at a site is the easiest and one of the most important ways to travel responsibly.
Many airlines are now working to offset their carbon footprint, with steps being taken on “green” flights to use biofuel, minimize single-use plastics, or maximize the space onboard aircrafts. Often these flights can cost a little more or may require you to be flexible on the time you fly, but if you’re travelling around a lot on your trip, it can be a great thing to consider for the environment. There is also often the opportunity to invest in a carbon offset after you purchase your flight, and this is available across most airlines so is definitely worth considering if taking a specifically “green” flight isn’t an option for you.
Support Local Businesses
Eat at local restaurants, stay at locally-owned accommodation, hire a local tour guide, or explore areas that perhaps see less tourism. Not only are you likely to find hidden gems and experience more of your destination’s culture, but your money will go to supporting the community and local economy rather than a giant corporation.
Explore On Foot Or Use Public Transport
Walking is an amazing way to explore multiple stops in your destinations (within a reasonable distance), with the added bonus of minimizing your environmental footprint. For day trips longer than walking distance, consider the local public transport options rather than taking short flights or hiring a car. Plus, it can be very fun to try and navigate the public transport system in another country (and discover that no matter where you are in the world, everyone thinks THEIR buses are the worst).
Know Where Your Money Is Going
Do your research before you travel to ensure that you are financially supporting those who deserve it, and aren’t contributing to harmful activities. Experiences like riding elephants may offer a great Instagram photo, but a simple Google search into the treatment and practices associated with this will show the unethical and damaging nature of the activity. As mentioned above, it’s important to frequent local businesses, but make sure that your entrance fees etc are actually going back into the community rather than a third party.
Bring Your Own Drink Bottle & Water Filter
Aside from costing a fortune, buying bottled water everywhere you go will create a lot of waste. Carrying your own water bottle doesn’t have to be an inconvenience, with collapsible and lightweight options making it an easy item to have with you at all times, all while cutting down on your need for single-use plastics. A personal water filter to fit in the top of your bottle is also a great way to ensure you are being safe in destinations where the tap water isn’t drinkable. Other reusable items such as coffee cups, straws and food containers are fantastic to reduce your waste output as well.
Remember That You’re A Guest
My personal favourite thing about travelling is learning about and embracing the culture of my destination. Respect local traditions, and understand that your values are not necessarily the same as those in the country where you are staying. You’re on holiday in somebody else’s home, so make sure you’re a great guest!