Every step you take into the world, you are leaving something behind. To be a sustainable traveler means to be a responsible traveler. As you step out to explore and discover the vast world, here are some tips for a successful and immersive adventure.
1) Research Your Destination
Hopefully, this step comes without saying. In order to experience another culture, you have to have an understanding of more than just what you will see. Do some research on history, politics, food, housing and on any tourist attractions you will be visiting. Research will give you cultural insight on your destination and help you learn about sustainable tourism options.
Next time you want to ride elephants in Thailand, look into the elephant sanctuary to see if the animals and workers are treated fairly and humanely. When looking for lodging, try to find options that are LEED certified or consuming energy intentionally and responsibly. When buying food, research what is in season and what is native to the destination you are traveling to.
2) Pack Smart
Many people have trouble packing. Be smart and light. Everyone hears this all the time, but don’t overpack. Be honest and realistic with yourself. The more you pack, the more difficult you will make the experience for yourself. If you find that you haven’t packed enough, you can always go to the local shop and buy what you need for a cheaper price. Packing lightly means that you will be more mobile and ready to move from place to place when necessary.
3) Leave No Trace
Traveling means that these destinations are not your permanent homes. When packing, think about how many things you are bringing that will need to be thrown away. Minimizing the waste you bring with you means that you are intentionally looking to leave no trace. Whether at national parks or on the local street, leave everything the way you have found it so that the next person can find the same beauty and excitement in the places you have been to.
Consider the toiletries you are bringing. What kinds of chemicals will be seeping into the Earth from the toothpaste or perfume you are using? First consider going without any scents or creams. Also, buy natural toothpaste and shampoo that is biodegradable. By doing this, you make a conscious effort to be a sustainable traveler.
4) Public Transportation
Taking public transportation is the more sustainable and affordable option. You will be able to see more of the destination you are in by traveling using pubic transportation. This gives you the opportunity to interact with people of the country with whom you would not typically get a chance to speak with. Public transportation will give you insight as to what the country is actually like on a daily basis!
5) Think Locally
Interested in buying souvenirs? Find local vendors and artists to support by buying their craft. Buying local souvenirs is more authentic and sustainable, especially for the livelihood of the vendors. This also means that you are buying directly from the vendor, which means all profits go to the latter. Thinking locally should also go for food. As mentioned earlier, eat what everyone else is eating because it is less expensive and more sustainable to do so. Support local farmers when you can!
Bonus tip: Travel to destinations where you have friends that are locals, so that you ccan experience the culture for what it should be! Immerse yourself responsibly.