Traveling can bring so much positive impact to the world. It goes beyond just seeing new places, creating new experiences, and appreciating the culture and practices of others. It’s also a way to learn from the way other people across the globe live and bring home these experiences back home for your friends and family to get inspired by.
But, there’s also no denying that travel isn’t always sustainable. If you aren’t careful, you can be one of those who are contributing to so much waste during the travel itself, or perhaps the tourists that are also irresponsible about their waste. It’s as simple as the increased dependence on plastic water bottles while on tour, and going on cars, when walking could’ve been a better option.
That said, there are many ways that you can change this so you can also be a sustainable traveler. Here’s how:
1. Reduce Food and Plastic Waste
Traveling can contribute to so much food and plastic waste because of all the disposables that are used. For instance, these are prevalent in packed lunches during tours, takeaways for hotels, and even a simple thing as buying bottled water all the time.
As you plan your trip, make it a point also to pack your own water bottle and other travel gear that can keep your drinks cool. That way, before you even start on the tour for the day, you can refill your bottle at the hotel’s restaurant when you have breakfast. Or, if you’re staying in a rental apartment, you can simply purchase the bigger bottles of water at supermarkets rather than the smaller ones.
On instances when you’ve got to pack food from the hotel for packed lunch or snacks as you’re on the road, be prepared with your own lunch containers as well. If you take the time to shop for it, you’ll find so many options of collapsible lunch boxes and other utensils, so these don’t take up much space in your bag.
2. Don’t Shy Away from Choosing Nearby Destinations
You don’t always have to go to the farthest point away from your home to have a good vacation. If you haven’t considered destinations that are just nearby, you might also want to think about these as an option. Go through a map and tick places around where you’re from that you haven’t gone to yet.
This is also fitting advice now that international borders are still closed for some countries, and your options may be limited. When you travel closer to home, this means less fuel consumption either on your car or by plane. It can help reduce your carbon footprint, especially for non-essential travel.
3. Choose Sustainable Destinations
Nowadays, travelers have access to so much information online. Hence, as you plan your trip, make it a point also to choose sustainable destinations. There are places that value sustainability, even for tourists, so it helps when you immerse yourself in those places.
For example, there are some countries that place a high emphasis on protecting the cultural and natural heritage of their local life through the following:
- Better management of sustainability
- Hotels, apartments, and other places for tourists practice reduced energy consumption
- Commitment to the protection of natural resources through enforcing heavy fines for any violation
4. Seek Local Experiences
There’s no better way to experience a new culture than to ‘do as the locals do.’ This means going as far as immersing yourself in their local life and culture.
When planning your day-to-day excursions, make sure to leave room for experiences organized by the locals. Don’t leave yourself too centered on activities made by big tour companies that’ll only bring you to the common tourist destinations.
For instance, if you know how to ride a bike, then go ahead and rent one. There are many places that your bike can reach, which a tour bus might not, that’ll bring you towards a more localized experience. That way, you’re also more sustainable.
5. Make Greener Transportation Choices
It also makes a big difference when you make that conscious effort to choose greener options for your transportation. For example, instead of taking a private car all the time, you may want to take a train. Rather than fly, if you have the time for it, why not see more of the countryside and take an overnight train.
These are little changes that can make a huge impact on how much fuel consumption you contribute to, on top of all the other tourists that travel on peak seasons.
Living an eco-friendlier lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to forego travel. You can still fly as often as you wish, take all the tours that you can afford from. It’s in the little changes, as you can see above that you can create that impact to be a more sustainable traveler.
There’s always room to learn, and this learning may even come from observing the practices of other countries in terms of sustainability and adapting these as your own. When the borders finally open again, now you can travel to the destinations you’ve been missing out on—albeit more sustainably this time.