When you want to practice sustainable travel it takes a little more research and thought than simply booking a plane ticket. But by spending just a little bit extra time making sure you’re employing the best sustainable options can go a long way towards reducing your impact your visit will have on the countries you’re visiting. Here are 5 tips for traveling sustainably anywhere in the world.
Know the Environmental & Moral Issues before Landing
Do you know what some of the environmental issues are in the areas you’re visiting? What about any moral issues? For example, tourists often give money to kids begging or selling tissues or other trinkets on the street. In many places, however, those kids are part of a larger “business” that collects the actual profits. By giving money, even if you have the best intentions, it can perpetuate child labor. It’s never possible to be 100% sure what other forces may be at play, doing a little research ahead of time can help you better understand the situation. There are some other ways to confront this situation but others argue simply don’t get involved.
Buy from Local Vendors
In most countries you go to, you’ll have large convenient stores and smaller local stores. As a tourist, it can be very tempting to frequent the larger corporate stores because they may feel less intimidating – especially if there’s a language barrier. These stores often have more choices and can be less expensive than smaller vendors. But, if you really want to support the local economy buy from local, small merchants.
Have a Local Guide You
One of the best ways to experience a location is if you hire a local guide take you to experience some unique and authentic local experiences. You can easily meet locals (that are just as interested in getting to know you) through CouchSurfing. Nearly any country you go to will dozens of locals who would be happy to host you and show you around.
Locals know the best food, what fun festivities are happening, and hidden gems that aren’t on the normal tourist circuit. You’ll see the real culture of the country instead of just the side shown to tourists.
Choose Low Impact Activities
Make sure you consider the impact you make through the activities you choose. It can seem like a great adventure to take an elephant ride, but if the trainers are actually hurting the elephants, you’re probably less inclined to support it. Really take time to research the activities you want to partake in to make sure that they’re industries and people who have practices that you want to support.
Don’t Be Wasteful
In many places the conveniences we take for granted like constant running water, hot water, and the ability to frequently wash clothing with the help of machines is a luxury. Even if you’re staying at a nice resort, if you’re in an area that faces these issues be conscious of how much water you’re using, how much electricity you’re consuming, and really considering if you need things like a fresh towel every day.
How can you make travel sustainable for a traveling family?