With people realizing the effects of travelling to their mental, physical, and social well-being, tourism has become one of the largest industries in the world today. But while it vastly improves the economy and one’s quality of life, something is negatively affected with the activity – Mother Earth. It is the only one we got and unfortunately, it is no longer what it was years ago. And if we are not careful, it will continue to deteriorate and may no longer bless us with the things we need in order to live.
As a responsible citizen, it is therefore our obligation to help preserve the environment. Let’s start with our travel practices.
TIPS FOR TRAVELING RESPONSIBLY
Find some of our top tips in the infographic below. Additional tips can be found in the text below the infographic.
BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
Do Your Research
Learn about the local area. Be sure that your presence doesn’t put a strain on local resources. While you’re at it, try to find out if there are establishments like hotels and restaurants that practice responsible tourism.
Pick A Green Airline
Flying sure does cause a negative impact to the environment. Since it is impossible to totally avoid flying, you can at least choose airlines that keep their carbon footprint as minimal as possible to reduce the impact. You can also make a donation to carbon offset programs like those that plant trees or put up wind turbines.
Turn off any appliances and unplug sockets before you leave for your trip. Doing so will not only save you electricity but also prevent hazards like increased fire risk.
Apart from cheaper flights and hotels, travelling during off-season lessens overcrowding therefore minimizing the impacts on the infrastructure and environment. It will also give you more opportunity to get to know the destination better and interact with the locals as well.
Less air miles … smaller carbon footprint.
Environment-friendly accommodations are no longer impossible to find these days. If you can’t find an eco-friendly hotel, consider renting a house or flat from a local. There are owners who have already incorporated green practices such as using organic products and discouraging the use of plastics in their homes. If a tent is available, you may also choose to stay in one as it is the greenest accommodation.
WHAT TO PACK
Solar Power Charger
Make use of the sun to charge electronics when you’re out and about. There are different kinds of portable solar power chargers depending on your needs and devices.
Using rechargeable batteries means less waste since you never have to keep throwing the old ones away. They can be recharged and reused many times which is therefore beneficial to the environment.
Instead of plastic bags, choose tote bags for they are durable, reusable, and great for shopping and beach trips. They’re also lightweight and don’t take much space on your luggage.
Reusable Travel Bottles
Use reusable or refillable bottles for your toiletries instead of using minis or single-use products provided by your hotel. They’re cheaper to buy, fit in your hand luggage, and can be refilled for every trip. You can also switch to using shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and deodorant bars to totally eliminate the use of plastics in your bath essentials.
Travel Mug & Water Bottle
Bring a reusable water bottle to avoid buying bottled water. You can have it refilled at your hotel where safe drinking water is provided. You can also buy a travel water purifier if you are unsure whether or not the local water is safe for drinking.
Marine-Friendly Sunscreen and Bug Spray
Several sunscreens contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals that absorb UV rays yet are harmful to marine and coral life. They cause developmental abnormalities and lead to bleaching of the sand. Before buying, check the product label to make certain that it does not contain the above mentioned harmful ingredients. With regards to bug spray, choose products that are non-toxic.
ONCE YOU’RE THERE
Respect the Local Wildlife
Be it in the ocean or forest, make sure not to touch the animals or take them out of their natural habitat. Indeed, they make great companions for souvenir photos but touching them can be harmful. Your hands can pass on bacteria that could cause them to get sick. They can also react badly to your perfume or toxic bug spray. The cons outweigh the pros of touching them so it is best to keep your hands to yourself for their sake.
Train and Public Transport
Some may not be the most comfortable but public transport is definitely cheaper and greener. For long distances, take the train as it uses fewer carbon emissions. Whenever possible, explore by foot or bike. It is beneficial not only to the environment but to your health and wellbeing as well.
Dispose Trash Properly
Never leave your trash littering behind. No bin in sight? Carry it around until you find one.
If you need to rent a car, go for the greenest option. Sharing a car means less: fuel, carbon emissions, and congestion.
AT THE HOTEL
Switch Off Appliances
Make it a habit to switch off appliances and unplug electronics including chargers when not being used.
Take Short Showers
Doing so saves water, time, and electricity.
Keep Curtains Closed
Helps keep your room cool during the day so you use less A/C.
Minimize House-keeping and Laundry Services
Laundry accounts for 15% of a hotel’s water use. To save water, have your towels and sheets replaced only when necessary, not every day.
They can be reused by other guests after you.
Do you have suggestions on how to improve the hotel’s green practice? Let them know!
Bring Back Useful Gifts
Buying gifts for family and friends back home? Make it a point to avoid gimmicky gifts that will be thrown away immediately. Choose items that can be used many times and will last for years.
Don’t Buy Exotic Souvenirs
This includes products from endangered species, ivory, coral & shells. Their population is already rapidly decreasing … don’t contribute to their extinction.
Instead of large food chains and establishments, try to patronize mom and pop shops, street food stalls, and local restaurants. Most of them use locally-sourced ingredients which are sustainable. In addition to reducing your impact, you get to save money and support local vendors as well.
Travel With Small Group
Less people in a group tends to have less impact on the environment. When looking for tour operators, remember to ask about the size of the group prior to booking.
Choose Local & Ethical Operators
Support the community by travelling with local guides and ethical operators.
Stick To The Path
Stick to market trails for your safety and the safety of local wildlife and nature.
Avoid The Zoo
Skip the zoo and go for sanctuaries and conservation areas that are not involved in the illegal capture, trade, and abuse of animals.
Alone, the effect of these responsible practices is hardly noticeable, but if we all do our part to make a change, it will surely create a great impact that will be beneficial not only to the environment but also to us humans.