Since the pandemic forced us to press pause in early 2020, the travel and tourism industry has been in unpredictable suspense. As of now, 41% of the U.S. population has completed their full dose of vaccines. So while the pandemic is still far from over, it sure feels like we’re almost at the other end of the tunnel. Yes, it means travel will soon be possible again!
But what will travel look like once people are jumping on flights and crossing borders again? For the last year and a half, we have had more time to reflect. Perhaps, it is time to talk about sustainable tourism and how you can be a sustainable traveler.
In short, sustainable tourism involves more than just minimizing your environmental footprint when traveling. It is also about considering how your activities as a tourist impact the local economy, culture, and society. Let’s look at some of our top sustainable travel tips.
Pick Lesser-Known Destinations
Tourists can bring in plenty of benefits for locals, but too many of them can be harmful. Hordes of visitors are swarming picturesque beaches, ancient temples, and historic cities. So when you plan your next adventure, be sure to avoid places suffering from over-tourism and choose lesser-known destinations instead.
When you go off the beaten path, you are not only preventing over-tourism from worsening, and it’s a great way to avoid the crowds! In addition, you may find hidden gems in an otherwise overrated country and connect with the local culture more.
Choose Sustainable Transportation
Sustainable air travel is impossible, but you can make smart airline and flight choices to minimize your impact. We recommend taking the train or bus where possible, such as when city-hopping or traveling around landlocked countries.
When a flight is unavoidable, choose newer airlines or planes that are usually more fuel-efficient. It’s also better to take direct flights than stopovers, as take-offs and landings use more fuel.
Slow Down and Stay Longer
You may feel the need to pack as much as possible into a trip. After all, you should make the most of any travel opportunity, right? However, the fact is that a rushed vacation can cause you more stress than enjoyment. It also means you’ll spend more time on vehicles than exploring the destination.
Why not try slow traveling and take your time with each place you visit? Instead of multiple short getaways, it might be better to plan one long trip. Besides, this will give you the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture and learn more.
Save Water and Energy
When you stay in a hotel, you use up lots of water and energy for heating and electricity. It may strain the local supplies, so try to be conscious every time you turn on the tap or the lights.
Do what you can to save water and energy, even when you’re not at home. For example, turn off the lights and AC before heading out, shut down the TV when you’re not watching, don’t take two baths a day, and avoid unnecessary laundry.
Respect the Locals
Most people travel to meet new people and explore other cultures, so part of the magic of traveling lies in the locals. It means we have to respect the locals wherever we are! Before visiting a place, it can be worth it to research the local traditions and etiquette. How do you have to dress? What is considered rude? You might also want to learn a few phrases in the local language.
Say No to Plastic
Our last tip is something you should do anyway, traveling or not, but people tend to use more single-use plastic during vacation. Perhaps it’s because of the mindset that you are on holiday, so it must be okay to indulge. Well, remember that the area you’re visiting only for three days is home to some people.
Try to avoid using plastic straws and buying plastic bottles or food containers as much as you can. Instead, bring your reusables when purchasing for a street food vendor. When in a restaurant, it’s often better to dine in.
We have, by no means, listed all the sustainable travel practices you can adopt. However, it is good to keep them in mind before you plan your next trip. If you can think of any other tips, be sure to share that with us and encourage your friends to be sustainable travelers too!