In an earlier blogpost “Why sustainable travel matters” I laid down the foundation of why sustainable travel matters to me, and why it should matter to all of us. A small recap, my opinion is that we travel the world to see beautiful places and experience different cultures. But if we neglect nature and don’t respect culture soon there will be nothing left to travel for anymore. Based on this believe I will start a series of blogposts, with this one being the first of how to be a sustainable traveler.
We will start off with focussing on the first pillar of the three, environment. So why does environmental friendly travel actually matter? We love visiting forests, climb mountains, lay on the most beautiful beaches. I don’t think anyone would like to lay between trash on the beach or climb mountains of trash instead. Besides that, due to global warming many beautiful places (such as the great barrier reef), are already getting destroyed. So are you interested in becoming a responsible/ethical/conscious/sustainable traveler? Start here by reading my 8 tips on how to be a more (eco friendly and) sustainable traveler!
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1. A sustainable traveler doesn’t litter
This should be fairly easy, and most likely something you already do! If you go somewhere leave only your footprint, everything that you brought with you should also come back with you, or be placed in a bin. Trash doesn’t belong in nature, it contaminates soil and water, and possibly could harm wildlife. Want to make an even bigger effort? Pick up the trash you find along the way. I know it may seem like a tiny step in a worldwide problem, but if everyone would make a small effort we could get a lot more results together! We all rather see our beaches looking clean, and our forests looking green.
2. A sustainable traveler respects wildlife
In many places in Southeast Asia, for example, you can find tiger kingdoms and elephant sanctuaries. Getting up close with such wild animals, touching them, feeding them, it sounds like a dream right? Maybe for the tourist visiting them, but not the animals. Evidence was found that in Tiger Kingdoms the cubs are beaten with sticks from a young age, deprived from food to learn to behave. These are wild animals, that should live in the wild and not be beaten for our entertainment. The same evidence has been found in many Elephant “Sanctuaries” or “Orphanages”, while there are actually some good, ethical, animal friendly sanctuaries out there, be sure to do your research properly before going. Doing a bit of research and raising awareness can go a long way, and can make a difference for many abused animals out there.
3. A sustainable traveler avoids bottled water
Okay, this is not always the best advice, because I don’t want you to get sick either. But in many countries it is perfectly safe to drink tap water, or hostels and hotels supply drinking water. Even in the most unexpected locations, such as India and Malaysia, hostels had water filters allowing us to fill up our bottles. If you are not sure if the tap water is safe to drink, either google, or ask hostel management, they can often inform you best about the water quality. Bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up before leaving your accommodation. A trick as easy is this will save you money and help save our planet earth!
4. A sustainable traveler travels green
With travels green I am referring to the greenest mode of transportation. When in a city, try to walk or rent a bicycle. In cities you will often find free walking tours available, and renting a bike to explore the city becomes more and more popular! If that is not possible, choose public transportation over private transportation. While this often a lot cheaper, sharing a bus ride with 40 others, instead of a taxi on your own, will reduce carbon emissions. In case of flights, see if there is a possibility for non stop flights. Airplanes produce the largest amount of their carbon emissions during take off and landing.
5. A sustainable traveler travels slow
A 2 week vacation with a return flight to the destination, and two flights in the country or area itself differs largely in carbon emissions than a 4 week vacation with one return flight and local transportation between cities! Traveling slowly doesn’t only mean you will reduce the amount of carbon emissions you will use. You will see more of the country side, experience more of the local life and have more time to see and do more in a city or destination. I am personally a huge fan of slow travel. When it comes to long term travel you need relax days, you don’t want to rush and explore every day, and you learn more about the places you visit!
6. A sustainable traveler avoids plastic bags
Don’t bag it. The amount of times I have run into backpackers having their whole backpack separated into smaller sections with plastic bags. They will rip, tear, be thrown away and replaced with new ones. While they not only make a whole lot of sound when you go through your backpack in the middle of the night in a dorm, there are just simply more sustainable options. Instead buy a set of packing cubes, and store your liquids in a waterproof bag to avoid leakage. Besides that, bringing a day bag or an extra tote bag can be great when you go shopping, no more need for those plastic bags there!
7. A sustainable traveler eats and drinks locally
Drinking a local beer, instead of a beer produced thousands of kilometers away, is a large difference in the amount of carbon emissions that were produced to get it to your table. The same goes for local food and all other drinks. While traveling often means we are excited to explore another country, and yes other tasty food options, we sometimes like to stick a bit too much to the things we like from home, I know I do. Try to eat and drink as many local produced products as possible and you are already making another small step to becoming a more sustainable traveler.
8. A sustainable traveler acts like he/she is at home
When at a hotel or hostel, act like you are at home. Turn of the lights and the AC when you leave, use your towels more than once and take a shower instead of a bath. These will all help to preserve energy and save water. Besides that, if you choose to use hotel provided shampoo and soap, try to use them all or take them with. Half emptied bottles will often be thrown away.
Eco Friendly Travel
So those are my 8 tips for becoming a more sustainable and eco friendly traveler. As you can see, the efforts to becoming a more sustainable traveler doesn’t have to be hard. You can take the smallest steps: switch of the lights, don’t litter or bring a water bottle. But every single one of these steps is a step in the right direction. Do you have any further tips on how to be a more sustainable and eco friendly traveler? Tell me in the comments below. Oh, and don’t forget to pin it!