Updated: May 18, 2020
Sustainability and taking care of the environment is currently one the biggest trends. Most of us are proud of splitting our waste and discarding of it correctly, using alternative energy where we can, reducing our carbon footprint etc. But how can we keep this going when we travel? Living sustainably should be something we take with us on a holiday or a trip, and it is surprisingly easy to do. We all want to travel without feeling guilty and having as little impact on the world around us as possible.
Unfortunately, all the small things we do on vacation that we think “won’t make a massive difference” have a genuine effect and consequences. The foods and drinks you decide to purchase, flights you take, and accommodation you book all have a great impact on the world around us, even if your contribution might seem insignificant. Consider these following tips the next time you are planning an adventure to do your part while travelling.
Consider your mode of transportation
You might be thinking ‘how am I supposed to get anywhere if I can’t fly?!’. Let me stop you right there, no one is telling you that you are not allowed to go on holiday because you shouldn’t be taking a flight. However, if you are flying within a country, or close by, have a
think if this is absolutely necessary. Nowadays, travelling is much more accessible and easier by car and train. Sure, the train might take 6 hours, while flying only takes 3.5 But imagine the following: to get on your flight, you first need to travel to the airport (anywhere between 30 mins and 1.5 hours) and of course, depending on your destination, you need to be at the airport at least 2 to 3 hours before. This adds at least 2.5 hours to your travel by plane! The train is more eco-friendly, cheaper, enjoyable and at the end of the day will take you the same amount of time as flying. And an added bonus, central train stations are often in the middle of the city so no need to take further taxi’s or trains to get there.
Reduce plastic and waste
One of the most difficult things to minimize and eliminate when travelling is the use of plastic and amount of waste. One of the most harmful plastic purchases is the single-use bottles, the ones we buy when we are shopping and get thirsty or when we buy a smoothie from a street vendor. By remembering to pack our own travel bottles, we can cut back our plastic waste significantly. When travelling, we get extremely excited about the new cuisines around us, and are triggered to try a new restaurant every day. Don’t forget about the leftovers that are in the fridge in your Airbnb, and finish whatever you have left before you move onto the next. Last but not least, please, if you are flying do not take those awful complimentary earphones they offer. I know it seems convenient, but you have your own with you and we know you will just throw them away as soon as you get to your hotel.
Source and spend locally
By choosing local products, and sourcing local restaurants, you can make an immediate positive impact on the environment and natives of the area. By deciding to take a local tour, rather than a huge, internationally recognized company, the money you spend is staying within the community, and ultimately adds more value. Besides this, you are also enriching your own experience by digging deeper into the local culture and traditions.
Reconsider animal experiences
Riding on an elephants back, swimming with dolphins, playing with monkeys. These are all very common dreams and goals of many people’s adventures. What not many people explore, or want to know, is the extremely maltreatment of these animals behind the scenes. Even though the caretaker of the elephant in Thailand seems very loving, it can be a completely different story when the tourists are not around. These schemes are all a clever for companies to make a quick buck, while not doing their part for the animals or its native environment. Think twice before you book an animal-related activity, and take some time to dig deeper into the company. Make sure that they are taking care of the animals as they should be, and not capturing them from their habitat for tourism gains. In reality, we should be avoiding these hands-on experiences all the way (do not even get me started about zoo’s and aquariums…).
Hike and explore responsibly
Exploring nature and all the beauty of a new country can be very exciting! What is even more adventurous, is going off-trail and deciding your own path through the forest or jungle. While this is a one-of-a-kind experience, we do not consider the effects it has on the surrounding environment. Going off the beaten track can have a detrimental outcome to the nature and local wildlife. Avoid harming the local inhabitants and stick to the path.
When booking your next accommodation, chose a property that commits to sustainable practices. These are often hotels and lodges that take care of their community, local economy and encourage their native history and heritage.
The best thing that you can do when travelling, is be more mindful of where you are, and how your actions have an impact on the environment around you. Always try and stay respectful, and take that extra step to make a positive impact on your travels.