While we are waiting to eventually resume traveling once the global pandemic will be over, why not use this time to start thinking about ways to travel more responsibly?
Many passionate digital nomads and location-independent workers may be quick to share the benefits of travel on the mind, body and soul. Traveling certainly helps broaden our views of the world as we experience new cultures and meet new people.
But from all the excitement and rejuvenation that we get from traveling, how often do we think about sustainability or the effects of traveling to our planet?
In this post, we will share 9 eco-travel tips for more responsible travel.
How To Travel More Responsibly
- Visit Destinations with Tourism Management Plans
Before your trip, do some research on whether your choice’s destination has a concrete tourism planning strategy in place.
- Respect The Local Culture
Whichever destination you’ll be traveling to, one of the first things you should research about is the customs and traditions of the country.
- Travel by Land
Wherever you decide to go, opt for traveling by land, using buses or trains instead of flying.
- Support the Local Economy
Skip the malls or big food chains and head to a local village or market instead.
- Stay in Eco-Friendly and Local-Run Accommodations
Opt to stay in resorts, hotels, and eco-friendly accommodations that are green certified, or book through third-party operators that feature some kind of environmentally friendly program.
- Think Green
Apply the same basic rules of what should do the eco-friendly living globally to when you are traveling.
- Leave No Trace
Be conscious of minimizing your environmental impact when traveling.
- Don’t Spend All Your Cash in One Place
Take a conscious effort to try out different restaurants and establishments when you visit a new place, both to spread the economic benefit the community will receive, and to give you the chance to discover a variety of different food, stores, and even people.
- Respect Animal Boundaries
Be conscious of animal abuse by local tourist businesses, and avoid activities that involve the exploitation of local animals.
Eco-Travel Tip #1: Visit Destinations with Tourism Management Plans
Not many people know that almost half of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites don’t have any tourism management plans in place – or at least available to the public on the Internet. However, monitoring the number of visitors to these important tourist places is a crucial element for sustainable tourism management.
So here’s our first eco-travel tip for traveling more responsibly: before your trip, do some research on whether your choice’s destination has a concrete tourism planning strategy in place. Find out how (and if) they deal with growing tourist numbers and what are their concrete plans for maintaining the sites and preserving them in the future.
You can Google “tourism management plan” along with the destination of your choice. You may also want to get in touch with the visitor or tourism center to ask for more information.
Eco-Travel Tip #2: Respect The Local Culture
Whichever destination you’ll be traveling to, one of the first things you should research is the customs and traditions of the country.
By learning more about local customs, you’ll be aware of things that might come off as offensive or inappropriate, like what clothes to wear and whether you should take off your shoes when entering a building, how to communicate appropriately, how to behave yourself in sacred locations and so on.
Doing all of this will not only make you more socially responsible as a traveler, but it will also enrich you as an individual and make you feel more integrated with the locals wherever you go.
Eco-Travel Tip #3: Travel by Land
Another great eco-travel tip to keep in mind for being a more responsible traveler: wherever you decide to go, opt for traveling by land, using buses or trains instead of flying.
We often think that traveling by land requires more time, but in many cases, bus or train journeys might not be much longer than the equivalent plane ride. Especially if you consider the time spent to go to the airport, at the airport, and then traveling from the airport to your final destination.
Of course, there will be cases that this option isn’t always possible. If you need to fly, you can still reduce your carbon footprint through a carbon offset program. This will allow air passengers to invest in the airlines’ carbon reduction project, aimed to reduce the environmental impact of air traveling.
Eco-Travel Tip #4: Support the Local Economy
A lot of money is spent on tourism every year. However, most of that money often goes to tourism operators and big international companies, whereas little is spent supporting the local small businesses.
When traveling, try to skip going shopping in usual malls or eating at big food chains because it feels more ‘familiar’. Head to a local village or market instead, and eat at the small local restaurants.
Rather than buying magnets and souvenirs that are often massed produced, choose locally made products, like handmade crafts, clothing, and jewelry to take home from your trip.
By doing so, you’ll not only be supporting the local economy but also increasing your chances to make local friends. After all, you’re not traveling to feel at home, but to explore places that are different from your usual environment!
Eco-Travel Tip #5: Stay in Eco-Friendly and Local-Run Accommodations
If you want to take sustainability to the next level, opt to stay in resorts, hotels, and eco-friendly accommodations that are green certified by organizations like Green Globe, Green Seal, or Earth Check.
If you are normally booking through third-party operators, check whether they feature some kind of environmentally friendly program. Expedia for example offers a “Green Hotel Program”, listing hundreds, if not thousands of green properties worldwide and making it is easy for people to search for eco-friendly accommodations.
Eco-Travel Tip #6: Think Green
This eco-travel tip sounds almost obvious for the more environmentally-conscious travelers, as the same basic rules should apply to eco-friendly living globally. For instance:
- Don’t leave the lights on when you leave your hotel room
- Save water by not leaving it running in the bathroom
- Take public transport whenever you can
- Don’t pick up the seashells or remove sands from the beaches
- Don’t leave any forest traces and pick up your trash when hiking
- Bring a reusable water bottle with you, instead of buying disposable plastic bottles. Or if you have to buy water, opt to purchase large water jugs (from the local grocery store of course), or bring along a water sterilizing tool.
Eco-Travel Tip #7: Leave No Trace
We all know the effects littering will have on the natural environment, but nonetheless, it’s worth reminding ourselves to be conscious of minimizing our environmental impact when traveling.
To keep it short and simple: whether you’re spending your time at the beach, or you brought your hiking poles for your next mountain adventure, don’t leave any physical trace that you’ve been there.
Also, when packing your things before your trip, try to leave out any unnecessary stuff. Chances are you won’t be able to recycle some stuff that you’ll bring on your journey in certain parts of the world, so better to leave them at home.
Eco-Travel Tip #8: Don’t Spend All Your Cash in One Place
When traveling to new unfamiliar places it’s easy to get used to one or two places that we really liked the first time we tried them. Especially if staying in a place for a longer period of time, we tend to end up going back to the same places. We are humans and we like familiarity and routines after all!
However, next time you’ll be staying in a new place for a few weeks, take a conscious effort to try out different restaurants and establishments. Doing so will help spread the economic benefit the community will receive, and also give you the chance to discover a variety of different food, stores, and even meet new people.
Eco-Travel Tip #9: Respect Animal Boundaries
Our last-but-not-least eco-travel tip for responsible travel is: be respectful of the local fauna.
If you’re asked not to touch or feed the animals or maintain your distance from them, then do so. Providing animals with unwanted attention can sometimes alter their behavior and disrupt their natural environment.
Moreover, beware of tourist establishments that offer any kind of experience or encounter with local animals. This includes riding elephants, taking photos with tigers or crocodiles, swimming with dolphins, and so on.
Doing so will likely encourage animal abuse and exploitation by local tourist businesses, so make sure to avoid these kinds of activities or at least do a lot of research before considering doing them.
If you liked this post, you might also like this one: Mindful Travel: 9 Ways to Travel Mindfully.