We travel because we love to explore the world. And, sometimes, when we stop and think about it, we realize it would be a tragedy if future generations didn’t get to enjoy it. That’s why a lot of travelers are embracing the concept of sustainable travel.
Sustainable Travel International defines “Sustainable Travel” as an initiative to protect local communities across the globe, on all economic, socio-cultural, and environmental levels. It’s up to us to make sure we’re not only reducing our carbon footprint with every step we take during our travels around the world, but also ensure that we preserve those very towns, cities, and countries we visit.
If you’re wondering what it takes to travel sustainably, check out these easy-to-follow tips below:
1. Book Your Trip with a Sustainable Mind
The go-green movement has been growing rapidly the last few years, and you’ll find that many companies now advertise their compliance with environment-friendly operation standards. Look for sleeping accommodations, tours, and other businesses that are sustainable. If it’s not listed on their website, call and ask.
2. Consider Your Mode of Transportation
Take advantage of public transportation and travel by bus and rail. Walk or rent a bicycle to get around town, which is a healthy way to get around for both yourself and Mother Nature. If you choose to rent a car, go for a hybrid. Also, try to avoid traveling by plane whenever possible to further reduce your carbon footprint.
3. Go Local
“Buy local and eat local” is the way of life for a sustainable traveler. Why? You’ll support small companies and the local people by doing so. Also, purchase fair-trade items whenever you’re souvenir shopping, which means that the products you’re buying have been made with the environment and laborers in mind.
4. Respect and Immerse Yourself in Local Culture
Research the culture of your destination before you get there. Learn local taboos, body language, and appropriate dress code, and follow the local customs in order to better assimilate into the community. It also helps to learn a few basic phrases if you’re in a non-English speaking country, so be sure to bring a translation dictionary, or download a handy-dandy app as well.
5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Whether you practice this in your home or not, be sure to use water and electricity sparingly, especially if you’re in a part of the world that has very limited resources. Bring a reusable water bottle so you can fill it with tap water or filtered water, as long as it’s safe to do so. And before you throw anything away, check to see if you can use it for any other purpose. It might also be helpful to do some research on your travel destination to see what their current environmental issues are, so you’re prepared in advance.
6. Contribute to the Community
Yes, there are ways you can help the local people and environment in addition to giving them money. Set aside time during your trip to volunteer at an organization that accepts volunteers. We recommend calling in advance.
7. Go on a Sustainable Trip
Make sustainability the focus of your trip. Help build a school in Guatemala, donate time at an orphanage in Africa, or help work on a farm in India. From AgriTourism to GeoTourism to VolunTourism, there are plenty of different world-changing trips you can join.
Do you travel sustainably?
Photo by Phil Dowsing Creative.