Everyone craves that next big travel experience; to visit the newest ‘must-visit’ destination and try the latest sport in pursuit of wanderlust. But all that tourism, coupled with environmental factors, is causing incredible wear and tear on the planet.
However, with some care and attention we can all make our travels a little more sustainable, especially with World Tourism Day in mind. Here are our essential tips to becoming a responsible traveller that will help you enjoy your vacation with a clear conscience;
A very small effort in the planning and packing stage of your trip preparation can have a huge impact on the environment and areas you visit.
- Research your destination options and choose one that is environmentally conscious. The internet is an essential tool for comparing different locales.
- If you are contemplating a tour, do your research, and choose a tour organization that is green-minded. Beware, there are many who claim to be, but their actions are what speak volumes. Ask for explanations. What are their ecological efforts? Do they have literature? Does your chosen tour operator use local staff and local produce for example.
- Look at the accommodation choices. Can they provide any written policies that list their ecological efforts? Have they been certified or commended by an established green organization? How invested are they in the local economy and community? Some indicators of such an investment include the employment of local residents, participation in local charity efforts, serving local produce in their dining establishments whenever possible, or being well versed in local information, culture, and points of interest. Finally, find out how they dispose of waste and/or heat the facility.
- Consider how you will get to your destination. Fewer and closer holidays of a longer duration equal less emission of greenhouse gasses. Consider utilizing public transportation to get there. If flying, direct flights are more ecologically friendly than connected flights.
- When packing, remove outer packaging from products that are double wrapped. The recycling programs in some communities are not as efficient as you might hope.
While on Holiday
There are many things you can do to protect the ecology of your vacation area, as well as the globe, while you are there.
- Try to survive using public transportation at your destination. If that is not possible, rent the smallest car that will fit your group or needs, so you leave the smallest carbon footprint possible.
- Everybody like a memento of their travels. There are a few things to keep in mind when you are making your selection. Try to purchase local products, but avoid anything that is made from endangered materials, like precious hardwoods or endangered animals.
- Use water sparingly as unfortunately tourists are notoriously known for their excessive water use.
- While visiting nature attractions, do not disrupt the habitats of the wildlife. If you find a nest, back off. That is one reason telephoto lenses are popular. Stay off of the dunes at the beach. It is the home to many animals. Do not litter. Leave the vegetation alone, do not pick the flowers, and do not denude the trees for sticks on which to roast your marshmallows. Wild animals will lose their ability to fend for themselves if constantly fed by humans, so do not do it. Besides, they are animals, human food is not made for them.
Being ecologically minded does not mean you have to sacrifice a quality vacation. It is more a case of thinking about what you are doing, following a few simple tips and taking a common sense approach.
By Julie Bowman