10 Easy Ways to Start Traveling More Sustainably
By Sustainable Travel International
One of the most remarkable aspects of travel is that each new adventure represents an opportunity to help people and places all around the globe. With over 1 billion people traveling every year, that’s incredible potential to make a difference.
Unfortunately, travel and tourism doesn’t always leave behind a positive impact. During your travels, you’ve likely witnessed, in one way or another, how tourism can cause irreparable damage to ecosystems and communities. These experiences can leave us feeling helpless and wondering what we can do. How can YOU as a traveler take responsibility to ensure that you’re positively impacting the destinations you visit?
Being a sustainable traveler means making responsible decisions that help protect your host destination’s natural environments, respect its cultural traditions, and benefit local communities. By making sustainability a priority during your global explorations, not only will you be making the world a better place, you’ll help ensure that the destinations you love remain unspoiled for future generations.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of 10 simple guidelines to follow before, during, and after any trip. So, whether your next adventure takes you to Italy, Argentina, or anywhere in between, you’ll be equipped with the tools and knowledge to make a difference.
- Consider Your Route. Visit popular places at off-peak times and travel popular itineraries in reverse order. Seek unique experiences at lesser known attractions.
- Mind Your Resources. Help conserve the natural resources you’ve come to visit by following the principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle during your travels and when you return home. Support tour operators and service providers that incorporate sustainable tourism practices in their operations.
- Respect Local Cultures. Be aware that you may encounter cultural differences. Learn some basic phrases in the local language, and research local customs, social norms, and environmental issues before you arrive.
- Be Prepared, Stay Safe. Learn about local weather conditions, business hours, legal matters, and dangers and annoyances before venturing out. Consider hiring a local guide.
- Honor Protected Areas. Follow advisories and regulations when visiting protected areas, and respect the rights of private landowners. Remember the usage fees you pay support local management programs and conservation efforts necessary to protect and maintain these areas.
- Keep Wildlife Wild. Maintain a respectful distance, use binoculars and telephoto lenses, refrain from feeding wild animals. Participate in activities that protect wildlife and their habitat and avoid activities that may jeopardize animal welfare. Learn more about Animal Welfare Guidelines from ABTA.
- Shop Local. Support the true regional character you’ve come to see by consciously spending your time and money at local businesses with local employees, who offer locally produced food and products, handicrafts, and art. Your dollars will benefit the region and also help communities preserve traditions and protect natural resources.
- Park the Car. Explore the area by getting out into it—try walking, cycling, or taking public transportation for a portion of your travels. Rent fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicles when a car is necessary.
- Give Back. Enhance the value and meaning of your visit by volunteering your time to a local cause or project while you’re in the area. Research and make a financial donation to organizations that support environmental stewardship and community well-being and that generate tangible results. Learn more about travel philanthropy and see if there are any funds for your favorite destination.
- Leave No Trace. Follow all principles of Leave No Trace—from preparation to preservation. Minimize your impact for the good of everyone.