Travelling is one of the best educative experiences on earth. From increasing cultural understanding to witnessing some of the most amazing sights and sounds, there’s no denying the positive impact of travel.
However, it is not without its negative impacts, like the influx of visitors putting a strain on cities’ resources and the use of fossil fuels to facilitate travel. That's why sustainable travel is important now more than ever. As travellers, we must strike that balance between satisfying our wanderlust and contributing to the wellbeing of the planet so those that come after us can have something to look forward to.
There are three main pillars of sustainable travel:
Environmentally friendly practices (reduce, reuse, recycle)
Protecting cultural and natural heritage (saving endangered species and restoring historic buildings)
Providing tangible social and economic benefits for local communities (upholding the rights of indigenous peoples and supporting fair wages for employees)
Here are four ways to travel across the world and still uphold these pillars:
Say No To Plastic
Right now, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling mass of plastic bottles and bags is wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems. That's why you should make it standard practice to pack reusable utensils for your travel so you don't contribute to the plastic waste currently endangering the planet.
Read our recent article on reducing your plastic use.
Avoid Traveling by Plane Where You Can
The “slow travel” trend is an emerging concept characterized by going to fewer places and spending more time in each. Consider being part of this trend by avoiding air travel where you can and opt for land transport instead. In addition to experiencing a deeper sense of place during your travels, you’ll also decrease your carbon footprint. If you must fly, consider booking non-stop flights so the impact of your travel is reduced.
Research Your Tour Operators
Tour operators are a big help when planning your trip, especially if you are going to an area that is unfamiliar. When you do seek out the services of a tour company, however, you may want to do some research into their environmentally friendly practices. F
or instance, you could ask them to provide examples of how their trips help to protect and support wildlife or cultural heritage? Or if they employ local guides on their trips and more importantly, if the local communities benefit from the influx of travelers. Many tour operators have come more conscious about the impact of their services and have designed their itineraries to be more eco friendly.
Support the Real Local Economy
You will most likely come across locally-made crafts and souvenirs during your travels. While these items are not always cheaper, purchasing them anyway ensures your contribution will have a more direct and positive impact to the local economy by supporting authentic cultural heritage and providing needed jobs for the locals who make them.
The responsibility of traveling the world in a sustainable way lies with us. It is not always about having fun, but also about making a conscious decision to be more responsible with the limited resources of the planet. Make that choice today!