Responsible Travel: 8 Ways to Be A Sustainable Traveller

Last updated on May 5th, 2024 at 03:17 pm

Almost every travel-lover will tell you that traveling is a fantastic experience, but being engulfed in the beauty and adventure of exploring different places may also mean contributing negatively to the global environment. As you travel across the world, it is vital to keep in mind the importance of positively impacting your surrounding environment. 

Are you concerned about the impact of travel on the environment at large? It helps if you consciously try to minimize your own carbon footprint while completing your travel bucket list. So, here are some ways to do just that. 

1. Reduce greenhouse gasses to minimize your effect on the environment

Greenhouse gases emanated by travellers and tourists contribute to about 8% of all the emissions made by man. That means that we directly aggravate climate change whenever we turn on the air condition system or travel. Fortunately, we can take some steps to prevent this. For example, when traveling from one city to another, it will be better to use a bus or a car rather than taking a flight, as an airplane produces more emissions. That also means that it is best to choose travel destinations closer to your place of residence. Since you cannot avoid travelling by air, it is sometimes best to select a carbon offset when purchasing your ticket for a small extra cost but a huge global benefit.

2. Reduce plastic waste

Many travellers are guilty of using plastic bottled water during their trips. Unfortunately, we only manage to recycle about 9% of the plastic we use globally, meaning that a massive amount of used plastic waste is left behind. The situation worsens when you consider the predictions made, that by 2050, the oceans would have more plastic in them than fish. Therefore, every human owes a duty to the planet to reduce plastic waste, whether traveling or at home. You can do this by carrying a reusable bottle with you when you travel. Also, have a coffee mug or cup with you if you love enjoying cups of coffee on your trips. A small effort on your part is a contribution to solving this global problem. 

3. Choose locally owned and operated accommodation

Besides doing your best to contribute positively to the global environment, you should consider your chosen destination’s local economy. Try as much as possible to ensure that all your expenditure goes directly into the local economy, instead of international companies. For example, whether you are looking for a room for rent in Singapore or Airbnb accommodation in Vietnam, always ensure that the accommodation is locally owned and operated. Make it a point to avoid settling in an international chain of hotels, as this increases the chance of your money staying in the local community.

4. Respect animals

If you are planning to join a wildlife tourism trip, take the time to do your research and know the kind of tours that put the local animals’ interest first. Animals and wildlife in general, play an intrinsic role in the ecosystem, and their sustainability has a direct impact on the earth’s sustainability. Therefore, respect wildlife wherever you go. Even if you are not a fan of animals or not part of a wildlife tourism trip, take time to help a stray animal in need. For example, you can feed a hungry stray dog, find a shelter for them, or contact the right groups to help the homeless animals. 

5. Embrace the local culture

In the spirit of creating a positive social impact, always embrace your travel destination’s local culture. To do this, take enough time to research the location’s local laws and customs before setting off. This way, you will not end up offending people due to a lack of understanding of their local culture. Similarly, it is also essential to know and observe the vital laws of a country or location. For most places, ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Therefore, research and read about the rules before traveling. The last thing you want to do is get yourself into a difficult situation with the locals or local officials. If you are planning on visiting Thailand or India for example, you should know that it is offensive to point your feet towards people, as they are considered dirty.

6. Choose local tour guides

If you plan to learn about a particular destination’s traditions, values, and cultural heritage, then hire a local tour guide. The best part is that, apart from being vested with all the information you need, you will also help support the local community by creating jobs and income for the locals. For example, in places like Australia, you can choose from a range of aboriginal-guided tours to help you discover the natural attractions. They can also tell you beautiful and true stories about the history of the place and help you experience traditional ceremonies and rituals. All these serve as a source of income for the locals.

7. Spend money locally

When you make it a point to support locally owned businesses instead of the enormous international chains, you help support and sustain the local economy of the places you visit. 

On the other hand, going for a cruise ship may not be as beneficial for the locals as needed. However, if you love to cruise, you can still increase the locals’ economic benefits by eating at locally owned restaurants. If there are locally operated cruises or locally organized tours and excursions, you can opt for those instead. You can also purchase souvenirs and products made by the locals.

8. Travel off-peak

Still on providing economic sustainability for your local destination, choosing to travel during the off-peak season also comes with other benefits. For example, it offers multiple economic benefits for the locals while providing them with financial security during the off-peak season. As a traveller, you will be able to enjoy your travels with little to no tourist crowd. Plus, traveling during the off-peak season also means that you will end up paying much less for your tickets and other travel expenses. 

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