Sustainable travelling or being a sustainable tourist mean to be conscientious about your environmental, social, cultural, and economic impact when visiting a foreign destination; all whilst fulfilling your own personal needs as well. Whether you’re travelling to explore the world, gain open-mindedness or to get out of your comfort zone, you can try to minimise your impact while travelling by setting green travel resolutions. When most travellers think of how to lessen their impact when travelling, most minds jump to practices that can be done when physically in the country. And whilst I won’t disagree that those practices are in fact important, what most may not realise is that conscious travel practices can extend to before and after your trip too.
Below are some tips to follow throughout the entire trip planning process, in order to make the most positive impact.
- Choose a Sustainable Destination
First things first, when picking a destination, choose a location with a green agenda. This is because, if the country’s local government and tourism body makes the effort to instill sustainable policies, these practices have the capability of contributing to your own travel footprint.
- Pack Right
Being strategic about what you pack will ensure that you can maintain sustainable practices whilst abroad. Don’t forget to leave a little extra room in your suitcase for your reusables, so that you can go the extra mile and aim to leave as minimal of a trace as possible.
- Familiarise Yourself With Societal Norms
Especially when travelling to a new destination, where the culture may be different than you are accustomed to, briefing yourself on the customs unique to the destination beforehand will benefit you as it will lessen the risk of being caught off guard, or worse, offending local residents.
- Research for Responsible Businesses
Sustainable travelling has been developed increasingly over the past few years, and there are now many eco-friendly options when going abroad. Planning out establishments you’d like to support in advance — such as, eco-accommodations, eco-experiences, socially responsible eateries, ethical tours, and social enterprise shopping — will make it easier for you in the long run; so that you can avoid falling back on any places who don’t prioritise eco-friendly practices, which ultimately harms your own footprint.
- Plan to Be the Most Carbon Efficient
Deliberately plan your trip to emit the least amount of CO2 possible. From choosing to sit in economy class to buying carbon offsets and supporting carbon positive projects… There are many unique and innovative ways to be mindful of the amount of CO2 that is emitted via your trip.
- Slow Travel
If you are lucky enough to have a good amount of time to dedicate to travel, choose to hit multiple destinations that make sense geographically. By staying longer to explore a region, this eliminates the need for a long-haul trek in the future. Additionally, this can provide the opportunity to truly immerse yourself into a new culture and learn more about the local way of life.
- Opt for Alternative Transport
Choose modes of transportation that will allow you to get from Point A to Point B with the least amount of CO2 emissions attached. From bikes, boats, trains, busses, even down to your feet… Try to avoid extra air time where you can!
- Consider Your Impact
Be conscious in every choice that you make by making certain that your actions are putting the environment and surrounding society first. This can be done through simple actions like using a reusable water bottle, being mindful of your energy and water usage, dining at local establishments that utilise native ingredients, buying souvenirs from local artisans, and adding more plant-based meals into your diet.
- Being Close to Nature & Wildlife in a Conscious Way
Escaping to nature is sometimes one of the biggest draws of a vacation; yet, viewing these landscapes up close can sometimes end up being detrimental to the sites. Therefore, it is best to follow a self-induced “Leave No Trace” policy; so that Mother Nature’s natural beauty can stay pristine and attractive for future guests.
- Leave Reviews
Tourism-related businesses appreciate tips on how they can make their offered experience better for fellow visitors; especially if they are participating in the sustainable space. Helpful, constructive feedback will allow for the businesses to flourish and stay on the right track, which is necessary to continue and succeed.
- Follow Through with Any Promises Made
If you made any promises abroad, such as sending gifts, be sure to actually do so. Although life can get busy at home, it is the right thing to do and you will make the receiving end’s day.
- Report Exploitation
Whilst travelling, if any exploitation is noticed — involving animals, children, women, disadvantaged persons, and so on — do your part and report these cases with the appropriate parties.
- Educate Your Peers
Be proud to share your sustainable tips and stories with your friends and family. Chances are they will practice what you preach and adopt their own conscious actions on the next trip they take. Encourage sustainable travelling.
Travelling provides the opportunity to learn more about new cultures, open your mind to new experiences, meet others, connect with the Earth’s natural beauty, and learn more about yourself. By choosing to fully embrace these foreign experiences and intertwine them with sustainable practices, your efforts assist in using travel as a tool to inspire positive action and change.
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