5 Tips To Ensure You Travel Sustainably
Written by Orsolya Bartalis
I have to say I am excited to see Australia and the world re-opening as I am looking forward to the new ‘rules’ that people said they set for their travels. What am I talking about? Sustainable Tourism.
In recent times, the likes of Viruoso, booking.com and World Nomad have all run surveys to learn more about upcoming travel trends and needs. All their findings highlighted their clients’ views on sustainable tourism, and all came back positive.
Maybe it was the news of the dolphins returning to Venice or its waters being crystal clear again or the sky clearing up in China, or maybe it was the long periods separated from loved ones and other human connections, not sure. The good news is that in the survey by Virtuoso, 82 per cent of respondents said the pandemic has made them want to travel more responsibly in the future.
What is sustainable tourism anyway?
It’s a way of travel that benefits local communities, culture, and heritage and minimises impacts on the environment. Its aim is to provide authentic experiences, create connections between travellers and locals, restrict mass tourism, reduce carbon footprint, conserve nature and give back to the communities visited.
These experiences can be truly eye-opening, even life-changing thru the depth of experience they provide. By opting for a sustainable travel experience/holiday over a conventional tourism package you are making a conscious decision to reduce your impact and make a difference in the world.
What helps you make more sustainable travel choices?
Firstly, you need to look for experiences that support local communities and economies rather than exploit them. What does this mean? As an example, avoiding all-inclusive hotel packages is busy tourist spots. These are often offered by large international hotel chains, meaning that not much goes back to the community to support them. Due to a large number of visitors in these areas resources – both human and natural are stressed due to coping with the number of tourists.
Secondly, think of travel experiences that help preserve a destination’s cultural heritage. This is rather simple when you travel to learn about the place’s customs. How to dress, how to act in the first instance are a good start, and follow those rules rather than try to get the locals to conform to your view.
The third, rule of thumb is that your travel should protect the planet. When you think of this rule you’ll consider your transportation mode, reducing your carbon footprint by the choices of activities, and accommodation options and even considering staying away from animal tourism come to mind.
If you're just getting started on your sustainable travel journey, you may find these useful tips to help you along the way!
1. Do Your Research
Responsible tourism guidelines may seem overwhelming at first, but if you break them down one by one, travelling responsibly can actually be more peaceful and exciting. You can sometimes also save money!
When planning your next trip, search for eco-friendly travel options. Things like airlines offering carbon offset, tours being operated by locals, green accommodation options are a few things to consider.
2. Travel Off-Peak Or May Be Even Off The Beaten Trek
Firstly, travelling off-peak can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, it also ensures a more peaceful experience. You don’t have to wade through thousands of tourists to get to have a nice shot of you at the Eiffel tower!
What’s even better is to choose travel options that are not on the most tread tourist path. Cuba or Georgia are some of these spots, they are only slowly being discovered. If you travel now, you most certainly get an authentic experience of unspoilt sites, friendly locals, delicious food and more.
3. Think Local
The point of sustainable travel is to support the community. So choose to stay at locally-owned accommodation, eat at independent/local restaurants, buy locally made products and engage in authentic, local experiences.
When choosing gifts for your loved ones at home, try and seek out the local artisans. When you buy directly from an artist, you're not only helping them support their family, you're helping to preserve their culture and break the cycle of poverty in those communities.
4. Use Reusable
Keeping this in mind helps reduce waste on your travels. Consider taking your water bottle, coffee cup, cutlery, straw as a few examples. You can buy amazing reusable travel kits these days that are lightweight and easy to pack.
5. Respect Locals And Their Customs
We need to respect the locals when we travel. This includes respecting their religion, customs, and way of living. Learning the basics about the culture and unwritten rules in the destination country before our travels is an important part. This makes it less likely that we will offend the locals.
Learn some phrases in the local language if it is not your own. When we show a person that we try to communicate in their language, that person is more likely to be willing to help us. In addition to this, a big smile and some sign language always helps. We need to be humble to expect any willingness from the other person.
It’s also important to treat the people we meet with respect, to show interest in their culture and country. Be curious. We are more likely to get into a conversation and get a friendly reaction from another human being that way. It can lead to some amazing travel experiences.
I hope I've shown you a few of the most important things to consider when travelling post-pandemic. Now, it's time for you to make your decision about how you want to travel and what kind of traveller you want to be. Do you want more out of your trips? Use these tips as a starting point in making your future travel plans.