I remember standing on a cliff in Varkala, India, and thinking how beautiful the view over the beach and the ocean is. But then I walked down the stairs onto the beach and I was almost disgusted by how much trash was lying around. How can we let this happen? As a traveller, I feel particularly sad when I see how some people treat their environment. We all need to make a conscious effort to save our planet and be kinder towards the environment, other human beings and animals. If we want to sustain travel and tourism, if we want to continue discovering and enjoying beautiful places around the world in the long term, then we need to start traveling more sustainably.
So, what is sustainable tourism? It’s defined by the World Tourism Organization as “development [which] meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social, and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support system.” I have compiled a list of tips for you which will help you travel more sustainably. Please share and advocate these tips whenever possible so we can all enjoy the beauty of our planet for many more years to come while respecting local communities and protecting animals!
TIP #1 – REDUCE WASTE
In many countries, especially developing countries, waste and recycling are big problems. Make sure to always take your waste with you if there are no bins around. To avoid generating lots of waste in the first place, simply buy less packaged goods and more fresh food at markets. Try to refill your water bottle rather than buying new plastic bottles and throwing them away every single time.
TIP #2 – TRAVEL GREEN
Avoid traveling by car or plane and opt for public transport. It’s not only cheaper but also more environmentally friendly. Even better: Walk or cycle and reap the extra benefit of getting a little workout. It’s also a great way to explore a place independently and come across hidden gems you wouldn’t have otherwise found.
TIP #3 – SAVE WATER
After having lived with local families in Guatemala and Kenya, I have become so much more cautious with my water usage. Water is a privilege for many people around the world. Reduce your water consumption by turning off faucets when not in use (for example when brushing your teeth), take quick, cold showers and avoid unnecessary water consumption.
TIP #4 – SUPPORT THE LOCALS
I know that when we’re traveling to foreign places, we sometimes crave food and known brands from home. But try to make a conscious effort to buy local products. Rather than shopping in a supermarket, shop with local (street) vendors. You will not only save money but also support the local livelihoods. While haggling is expected in many countries, try not to overdo it. Be mindful of the fact that for some locals a dollar more means they can feed their whole family for another day while it often doesn’t hurt our Western bank accounts too much. Another idea is to stay at local (eco) hostels/hotels or at guest houses rather than an international hotel chain. Many of those eco stays are partly self-sufficient which reduces their environmental impact, e.g. Casa Elemento in Colombia.
TIP #5 – PROTECT ANIMALS
We’ve all seen people posing next to sedated tigers, riding elephants whose spirit was broken or posing for a photo with a chained monkey. These animals are being abused for tourism and money-making. The only way to put an end to this misery is by avoiding these kinds of activities. Instead visit ethical animal sanctuaries.
TIP #6 – SAVE ENERGY
Turn off the lights when there is no one else in the room. Unplug any electronics. Let your hair air-dry (for that beach holiday look). In many developing countries or remote places, electricity is not only expensive but also unstable. Try not to cause a short circuit and limit the use of electronics.
Let’s all try and make this world a better place by being more mindful of our actions. Let’s save our beautiful planet for many generations of travel girls to come!
How do you travel sustainably? What do you do to lesson your carbon footprint when you travel? Please share with our readers in the comments below! Read Next > 9 Epic Places To Stay In Bali Based On Your Travel Personality
By We Are Travel Girls Contributor Nadine Hild of TheSweetnessOfTraveling.com
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Great post! I would also add that you should be aware of fair labour relations – are the staff being treated well at your hotel? Are they being paid a fair wage? These are all issues that we would normally be aware of in our home countries, so that concern needs to extend to the destinations we travel to. As travel bloggers, we can also use our platforms to help make certain issues known to travel and tourism individuals and bodies. Hotels and service providers need to understand our concerns in order to make changes.
We Are Travel Girls says
Thanks so much for reading and commenting Malou! Those are really great points and something we look for when selecting hotels to stay in. Where possible I try and find places to stay that have programmes that give back to the local community, or internships and training programmes that get young adults into the hospitality business. It seems that more and more hotels are creating these programmes – we just need to make sure to do our research! Thanks for sharing your advice. XO, Becky
Wonderful post! I think this is something that should be a must read for every traveler!
A quick unrelated question- where was the last picture taken?