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Planet Earth is incredibly beautiful and travelling gives us the chance to have a glimpse of its beauty. However travelling takes a toll on the planet – we`re polluting when flying and using other transportation; tourism in certain areas can bring more traffic, drastically change landscapes through building, shift the local economy focus causing loss of jobs and cultural identity and the list goes on.
That`s why is so important to shift our footprint as much as possible during our travels. The first step in this direction is being mindful – knowing and recognizing the underlying consequences of our actions and minimize our impact on the environment and the local communities. Here are some ideas to act in this direction. Safe and sustainable travelling to everyone!
STAY/EAT/BUY LOCAL – Make sure your money goes back to the local community as much as possible. If possible book directly with locals, like booking your accommodation onsite with locals, eat at local restaurants, buy from local shop and markets, possibly handmade products…. If booking through a travel agency or tour operator, review their websites carefully to understand how good and sustainable they are – if possible, contact the local business used by the agency directly and ask questions about the working conditions imposed to locals. Make sure they employ local guides and respect local environment and culture as much as possible.
USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT OR BIKE – Don’t assume cars are always the best way to travel a country – if public transport works well at your chosen destination, use it and most times you will save yourself time spent sitting in the traffic and money in gasoline and rental, helping reduce your footprint on the planet. Biking is even a better and more affordable solution sometimes. Even if the public transport is not the best in the visited country, it can be a great way to get to know and talk with locals – I still remember that time we met a Buddhist monk on a bus in Srilanka and I was asking questions through Fabio as women are not allowed to talk to a monk or sit next to him =)
USE REUSABLE CONTAINERS AND BAGS – Whenever possible show off your beautiful reusable coffee cup at the local cafés and ask to serve your takeaway lunch in your lunch box. Use a refillable water bottle and use free water dispensers. Shop with your reusable cloth bags and pack your gear in reusable cloth bags or cells. Refill containers with shampoo, lotions, washing liquid or, even better and easier to carry, use solid-form products like soaps. Check more eco-friendly solutions out there here.
RECYCLE – When reusing is not an option, remember to recycle your waste correctly according the visited country’s rules. Especially when you are in the wilderness, carry out your waste and dispose of it only when back to civilization.
HONOR LOCAL CUSTOMS – Research local culture and traditions before your trip and behave accordingly. Be as respectful as possible and even adopt some local customs if necessary – it is always fun and extremely instructive to participate to local events and blend in. Learn more tips here.
RESPECT WILDLIFE – Don`t assume all animal attractions are ethical as exploiting animals for money is quite common in many countries. So make sure to:choose experiences which bring you close to wildlife without interfering with their natural habitat – safaris are great when the numbers of tourists are controlled and you can witness animals in wilderness. Never buy wildlife products - Do not support traffic of rare or endangered wildlife so do not purchase or eat endangered species (e.g. turtle egg soup, crocodile handbags, fur products, seashells…)
VOLUNTEER – Amazing way to give back! Volunteering allows you to have a positive impact on local communities and the environment and make your trip so much more meaningful. Apart from learning so much more from your experience immersed in a local community, your efforts will be actually funneled towards improving the life of locals and nature and wildlife, whether you`re teaching English to the community or planting mangroves to reinforce a coastline risking to disappear because of the loss of natural habitat. Find out more about our volunteering experiences here – more to come.
CAMPING – This will get you as close to nature as you can possibly can. As camping does not need any particular big infrastructure, it does lower environmental and landscape impact. Go out there and embrace it! For useful tips check these posts: Camping for Everyone and Gear up for Camping