Travelling in a responsible way is very important; it can be done by reducing our environmental impact, and it is called sustainable travel. Tourism has boomed in the recent years as it became easier to move from one country to the other, but mass tourism has caused problems for countries, cultures, nature, and wildlife.
1. Pack Light
Packing light for a trip is the best thing to do for helping with sustainable travel, and it is easier to carry lighter luggage. I travel with either a backpack or a carry on, I only pack what is important and avoid over-packing or bringing things that I will end up not using. Also, when it comes to flights, trains, or buses, they use more fuel the more we pack, so packing light help with using less fuel. This is one of the easiest thing to do when traveling, you can pack a reusable water bottle as well, you can also go plastic free when it comes to your toiletries or buy eco-friendly products, and you can bring your own food on the flight instead of having their meals which usually comes with a lot of single use plastic. You can also bring your own cutleries, I have bamboo ones which are very light, especially a reusable straw to avoid single use straws. When it comes to clothes, pack light clothes or clothes that have a thin material then roll your clothes up to use less space.
2. Avoid Producing Unnecessary Trash
I'm sure we all have seen photos of animals and sea life entangled in plastic, but what we don't see as well is them ingesting them or the micro-plastic ending up in our food. It is so simple and easy to throw your trash or garbage in their designated locations, and it is also easy to find alternatives to single use plastic. As mentioned before things like a reusable water bottle, eco-friendly or plastic-free toiletries, reusable cutleries, and many more. There are a lot of other positive action that you can take such as picking up litter, participating in a beach clean up, and much more.
3. Choose a Sustainable Travel Destination Instead of a Popular One
I know that there are a lot of popular travel destinations that we all want to visit, but with these popular; over-tourism have caused a lot of environmental issues. An example is Dubrovnik, Croatia, this places became very popular after The Game of Thrones, so a lot of people started visiting, but the city was not prepared for such amount of people that a lot of issues occurred such as increased traffic, increasing prices that affected locals, deterioration of historical sites, and much more. Another example is Venice, the over-tourism have caused issues for this beautiful city in addition to the pollution from the cruises as well as the rise in sea levels. So, as much as possible try to avoid these popular places especially in high seasons.
You can look for other destinations that are not as popular or are eco-friendly, such as Bhutan. Bhutan are working towards becoming carbon neutral and many other countries as well, so maybe try visiting these countries. You will still enjoy your trip even if the place is not popular as you will be able to find a lot of hidden gems. In my case, I visited a small village in the south of Spain called Setenil de Las Bodegas that not many people have heard of, but it was beautiful and magical. So don't be discouraged if the city or country is not as popular as others, there is still a lot to discover in the world.
4. Change the Way You Travel
Planes have made it easy for us to travel from one place to the other, but their need for fuel have extremely high carbon emissions, so avoiding flights when possible is a great way to reduce your carbon-footprint. For example, you can find a lot of overnight trains or buses to be taken instead of flights, which is why you should research the transportation you can take when traveling beforehand. Sadly, flying will never be a form of a sustainable travel, but there are flight companies that donate part of their profit to environmental causes.
5. Research Accommodations & Tours Beforehand
Researching before booking is a great idea, you can easily find a lot of places that support sustainable travel and you can find all these information on their website. A lot of hotels are either working towards becoming eco-friendly or are donating a percentage of their profit towards environmental friendly actions or causes. If you are staying in a hotel, then bring your own toiletries instead of using the hotel's single use products. Also, when booking a tour make sure that it doesn't affect the eco-system, and again you find all these information on their website.
6. Shop Locally
It is beneficial for the destination you visit to shop from locally owned businesses, for example when buying food, avoid big supermarkets where things are imported by planes which contributes to carbon emissions. When it comes to clothes, avoid fast-fashion as it badly affects the planet, look for sustainable stores such as a thrift store, you can also try to adopt a minimalist approach. Don't forget to bring your own reusable bags when buying anything, these bags are light and don't weight much and a great way to avoid single use plastic bags.
7. Save Water & Energy
Most of us make an effort to save water and energy at home, so this should continue when traveling. When it comes to energy, thing like unplugging, and turning off the heater of the AC when leaving the room or your accommodation. When it comes to water, leave the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on your door so that housekeeping won't wash you towels or sheets everyday, you can also wear your clothes more than once or if needed then hand-wash them, reduce the time you take in the shower - a 2 minutes shower daily is enough to avoid using too much water-. There are a lot of other things that can be done to reduce water and energy but these are the main things.
8. Avoid Animal Entertainment
It is important to preserve the wildlife while traveling, as the majority of wildlife traveling have a negative impact on the animals. Animal entertainment include things such as watching dolphins performing tricks, riding an elephant, or going to the circus. Even acts that seems innocent such as feeding animals, or holding a monkey or a snake, these things are still harmful. A good alternative is to visit a national park where the animals are in their natural habitat and are able to roam freely. An alternative to feeding animals, is to volunteer at a certified animal rescue centre.
9. Respect the Environment
It is important to be respectful of the environment whenever traveling, and as mentioned mass tourism have affected natural areas, so avoid touching ancient temples and make sure to read the signs to not negatively affect something. Also don't touch corals as coral bleaching is another environmental problem that we are facing, and also make sure that you are wearing a reef-safe sunscreen.
10. Eat Less Meat
The biggest cause of climate change has been proven to be animal agriculture, so by eating less meat, you are reducing your environmental-footprint. The meat production causes mass deforestation as forests are cut down to have space for crops and animal farming. Also, high levels of methane are caused from cows as well as the pollution cause from their waste. So, reducing the amount of animal products you consume is beneficial for the environment, and plus you will be able to find vegetarian or vegan restaurants nearly everywhere when traveling.
Having all the right websites and apps will make your travel experience so much better, I have used many but I always tend to have a favourite, and I always like to utilise all the technology that is available. So, here are all the websites and apps that I love using whenever I am planning a trip or travelling.
iVisa - Travel Documents
WayAway - Cheap Flights
Omio - Planes, Trains & Buses in Europe, US, & Canada
12Go - Trains, Buses, & Ferries in Southeast Asia & Oceania
Kiwi.com - Planes, Trains & Buses
Trainline - Trains & Buses
FlixBus - Buses
BusBud - Buses
AirHelp - Air Passenger Rights Experts
Ekta - Travel Insurance
Booking.com - Hotels & Accommodation
HostelWorld - Hostels
YouTravel - Group & Package Tours
Radical Storage - Luggage Storage
Drimsim - Universal SIM Card
Welcome Pickups - Airport Taxi & Transport
GetTransfer - Transfers & Airport Services
Economybookings.com - Rental Cars
Rentalcars.com - Rental Cars
QEEQ - Rental Cars
BikesBooking.com - Motorcycles, Scooters, Quads, and Bicycles
GetYourGuide - Guided Tours & Activities
Tiqets - Tours & Activities
Viator - Tours & Activities
Tripadvisor - Tours & Activities + Food & Drink
Klook - In-Destination Services
Big Bus Tours - Open-Top Bus Sightseeing Tours
Mapo Tapo - Outdoor Activities
EatWith - Unique Culinary Experiences