It’s time to try a new approach to travel: the slower, more sustainable style. Here are 11 ways you can be a more conscious traveller on your next trip.
Follow the ‘leave no trace’ policies
If you’re the adventuring type, you’ll already be appreciative of the beauty and fragility of nature. Knowing this, there are some important principles you can adopt that can alter the environment around you. The seven ‘leave no trace’ guidelines act as a handbook on how to enjoy nature without spoiling it. Rules such as taking your rubbish with you, sticking to well-trodden paths so as not to disturb wildlife and leaving the area as you found it will help to minimise your effect on the environment.
Consider the ethical nature of your destination
What do you want out of your next holiday – a place of natural beauty? Or a worldly, humming city full of culture? Regardless of the type of trip you’re planning, you can take into account the ethical nature of potential destinations. Each year, non-profit organisation Ethical Traveler releases a list of the top 10 ethical travel destinations, based on a survey of developing nations and their commitment to improving the conditions of local governments, the environment and their people. How does Chile or Costa Rica strike you for your next trip? Both nations have secured a place in the top 10 two years running.
Purchase carbon offsets
Travel inevitably requires transport but there is a way you can traverse the planet sustainably and consciously: by purchasing carbon offsets for your next Qantas flight.. Carbon offsetting a flight from Sydney to Melbourne, for example, costs as little as $2.
Commit to creating less rubbish
Remember the principle of leaving a place as you found it? Plastic water bottle usage is said to top almost 584 billion by 2021. Keep plastic out of the eco-system by taking your own reusable, collapsible water bottle and a resuable coffee cup on your travels.
SEE ALSO: Have You Heard of Closed Loop Dining?
Pack a solar charger
Not only is a solar charger a great piece of hardware to have in a bind (forgotten that worldwide adapter again?), it’s a great way to use a little less energy when travelling abroad.
Take a bag within your bag
Don’t let your holiday state contribute to landfill by leaving good habits at home. Take a canvas bag or small, foldable duffle on your travels to eschew any need for plastic bags. That way, you’ll be prepared for packing in places where the plastic bag is already frowned upon or banned – such as San Francisco, Kenya, Rwanda, Byron Bay or the UK.
Start a conversation
Ask a store owner about their business, chat with a fellow commuter about their family – these are the encounters that truly make travel worthwhile. Taking the time to understand the country you’re travelling in and the people that live there is a great step to creating bridges between us. After all, who knows where a long, leisurely cup of tea with a local might lead?
Do your research
Some voluntourism opportunities aren’t always what they seem. Ensure you read widely and choose carefully when it comes to any opportunities of overseas voluntourism, especially those involving children or animals. Transparency in terms of what the project involves, how much money is going to the project or charity and how you’re expected to have an impact are key considerations
Carefully consider your packing list
More than 80 per cent of all wastewater flows back into nature without being properly treated, polluting the aquatic environment and putting 1.8 billion people at risk of serious diseases, according to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Packing clothing made from natural, breathable and anti-bacterial fibres such as cotton and bamboo reduces the need for washing while on the road, helping to reduce wastewater (not to mention making your life that little bit easier). You can also reduce wastewater by following reusing your hotel towels more than once – simply follow the little instruction card you'll find in most hotel bathrooms.
Invest in local communities
Buying local ensures that your tourist dollars stay with the community you’re travelling in, buoying the opportunity for local investment, employment opportunities and development. Use local guides, purchase goods harvested or made in the immediate area and eat meals at restaurants that aren’t part of global chains.
Travel in the offseason
There are several benefits to visiting a destination in its seasonal tourism ebb. Visiting in a less popular season often means less crowds, cheaper accomodation and it helps the region maintain a steady income when the flow of tourist investment usually dissipates.