Today in the era of Instagram, Facebook and other forms of social media there are people posting about their last exciting trip, sparking a new movement of “wanderlust.” That ideas has become a daydream for many, packing it all up and seeing the world. Pretty photos only capture the most amazing moments, influencing how we think about travel. Fortunately for us it is easier now to see the world, to engage with the culture, landscapes and people that make up all these amazing places. But what is great for us, is not always great for the planet. With how easy it is for people to travel it is actually causing harm to the planet and making it harder for the local people that call these places home. Factors such as an increase in carbon emissions, overcrowding, pollution of our oceans and endangering species and habitats have all been negative byproducts of an irresponsible tourism industry. These are all issues that should be taken seriously from the travel industry, the traveler and the local governments.
We love traveling and we at Travel Life Adventures feel it is our duty to make responsible travel choices and be conscious of our impact while we travel. The reality is we should travel, and more and more people will keep traveling so it is imperative that we begin to address its negative impacts and try to mediate them as best we can. Here are a few ways you can be a more conscious traveler. Also head on over to our “Travel With Us” page and check out some of the exciting experiences you can have with us that follow these practices.
This might cost a bit more money in the long run, but cutting out multiple layovers will help keep carbon emissions down. Also look into what airline you are flying. Some airlines have taken steps to help cut down their carbon emissions. You can also ask your airline what they are doing to decrease carbon emissions. The more customers who are asking and demanding those things the better chance airlines will shift the way they do things. There is also this awesome website that will help called SmarterTravel. They give a host of ways to help offset your footprint and organizations you can donate to.
Carry A Reusable Water Bottle And SteriPen (or some way to clean your own water)
This is one of the most effective ways you can help reduce plastic waste and make sure you have clean drinking water! When we travel we always have a reusable water bottle and a SteriPen to clean our water. This not only gives us the security of having clean water, we are also helping to reduce our plastic waste and clean up the planet. Here is a statistic about our use of plastic water bottles. “Americans using an average of 50 billion plastic water bottles a year; and while recycling is more accessible than ever, 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled after use, meaning that billions of plastic bottles are entering our landfills, and even our oceans, every year. In fact, so much plastic waste makes it into our oceans that it is estimated that over a million marine animals are killed by plastic waste each year, often due to accidental plastic ingestion.” This is really ridiculous if you think about it, there is no excuse not to buy a reusable water bottle, and a way to clean your water. Even if we are not traveling, we should stop buying plastic water bottles.
We all love the idea of luxury hotels with larger chains and all the comforts that come with that. But the reality is most of them are not practicing sustainability and the money is not going back to the local communities that they are impacting. One way to support the local economy is making sure we book local lodging. For us that means we usually stay with a family or families when we are traveling. You can also stay in locally owned and run lodgings, like Riads in Morocco. We also always try to inquire about eco friendly practices before booking to make sure our lodging is keeping the land clean. At Travel Life Adventures all of our trips implement these practices so if your looking for ways to stay local contact us.
One of the best things about traveling is the food. A great way to support the local economy and lessen your carbon footprint is to seek out the local shops and foods that come from the place you are visiting. Ask the local people where they love to eat and do there shopping. Visit the markets, and take a local cooking class. This is one of the best ways to support and learn about a place. It also gives you a better chance at supporting the natural supply chain and encouraging good stewardship of the local land to produce food.
Explore on foot
This is one of our favorite things to do no matter where we go. I don’t usually spend a ton of time in a city when I travel, but usually take a day or two to explore around. I always tend to do this on foot. Not only is it better for the environment by reducing the need for fossil fuel consumption, but you will get to see things you would most likely miss if you were driving past it. If you don’t want to walk, you can also look into renting a bike or catching the local bus. There are lots of options that put you closer to the land and in the perspective of a local, and that also lower your impact on the place as well.
There are myriad simple acts that can add up to something amazing when we travel. For example, when leaving your room make sure the air conditioner is off. Don’t waste towels in the bathroom by using them once and discarding them. Do you really need your bed linens changed everyday? Most of us don’t wash out beds at home every day so why would we do it in a hotel room. Keep your showers short, buy from the local markets and prepare your own meals. These small actions make a big difference and give you a new outlook when traveling.
Have Respect and Empathy
There is a misconception that because you travel you are somehow automatically empathetic or don’t hold biases or are more open minded than others. That is far from the truth. Just because you travel does not mean you can’t be an asshole. Learning, being open to others, having empathy and compassion are things that take work and practice and are not automatic just because you have been to a bunch of places. Wherever you go, lean into the culture with respect and empathy and with an open mind and heart. Learn as much of the local language as possible. If something confuses you ask questions in a respectful matter. Go with the flow and have patience when things take longer than you are used to. Having respect and empathy will go a long way and will also make your trip that much more enjoyable.