A guide for your eco travels – how to become a more sustainable traveler
The number of international travelers is increasing each year.
While there were already 1,2 billion people traveling in 2015 this number is expected to grow to 1,8 billion travelers by 2030.
Those numbers show the importance of focusing on eco travels and how to live a more sustainable life overall.
But don’t worry!
Being a sustainable traveler does not mean you have to cut back on all the fun things. ;)
Eco travels and tourism is a lot about re-focusing and adapting.
Make simple choices and become more conscious.
At a glance:
Principles of Eco travels and sustainable tourism
Sustainable tourism has three main, easy to remember principles.
In addition, it is essential to protect natural & cultural heritage like rainforests and historic sites, as well as supporting local communities.
For example, buy locally developed products and stay in local accommodations.
So let us help you to improve the way you are traveling so we can all enjoy the beauty of travel for more decades to come. ;)
Our 7 most effective tips for starting your eco travels:
1. Save water
Water is an important source.
Even if it may not be possible to drink the tap water, it’s used for cooking, to water the crops and many other things.
In areas where water is scarce, tourists play a major role in the usage of fresh water and should always act responsibly.
So take shorter showers, turn off the water when you’re applying soap and think about your water usage when washing clothes.
This is actually a good tip you can also easily apply at home. ;)
2. Avoid plastic
Plastic is one of the most serious environmental problems today.
Especially the amount of plastic in our oceans.
See for example the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a tremendous amount of litter swimming between the West Coast of North America to Japan.
A huge part of this patch contains throwaway plastic bottles and bags.
It takes hundreds of years to break down those materials (if ever).
So opt for refilling your bottles and avoid plastic, whenever possible.
There are a lot of accommodations or cafes, which offer refills– you just have to look closely or ask. ;)
Do your research to find places offering refills before heading to a new destination or do it on site.
If you know you’re going to stay for a couple of days at one place (for example in an Airbnb) buy a large container of water to refill your bottles and minimize waste.
In the Philippines, we bought a gallon of water and used the local refill service.
We returned our empty gallons for a full one and the empty one was sent back to the refilling station.
Another big issue is the amount of throwaway plastic bags.
Try to avoid them whenever possible!
Bring a canvas tote bag from home to go to the market to shop for souvenirs or food.
When in a restaurant or café avoid plastic straws.
They are made in 10 minutes, used in 20 and remain on earth forever since they are not biodegradable.
Keep this in mind when ordering drinks.
Even if it may be hard to memorize for the first few times, stay with it and it will be the most normal thing after a while. ;)
3. Save energy
Saving energy while traveling is also simple to implement in your daily routine.
You can easily reduce your energy consumption by unplugging your charger and all other electronic devices when not using them.
Turn off lights and the air con when you are leaving your room.
If you are staying in a hotel use the ‘do not disturb’ sign.
It’s not necessary to get new towels every day, right?! ;)
4. Support the local community
Supporting the local community while traveling can be really easy and is very important to preserve destinations for future travelers.
By staying in locally owned guesthouses, buying local products and valuing the local culture you contribute to the local economy.
Especially when buying food avoid imports as much as possible.
Eat at local restaurants.
Apart from supporting the local owner, you will definitely get a better sense of the country and it’s customs as well. ;)
Another possibility to contribute to a local community is to support organizations like Pack for a Purpose.
Which offers lists of needed supplies from different countries around the world, created by community-based projects.
5. Slow travel
Take your time when traveling.
This is not only a great tip for being a more sustainable traveler, it also gives you more time to discover and explore a new destination.
Slow travel is not all about choosing slow transportation.
It’s about taking your time to fully explore a destinations culture and the local customs in a more eco-friendly way.
Instead of rushing from one sight to the other, let go and try the local lifestyle.
By becoming part of a local community you can empower the local economy and will create unique memories.
Slow travel will also leave you more relaxed.
Instead of rushing from one place to another, by taking endless flights, take it slow and try the public transportation.
You will be surprised how advanced it is in many countries.
Moreover, it is a great opportunity for seeing the scenery of a country.
6. Take public transportation
Obviously, it’s not possible to avoid airplanes at all while traveling.
Most of us have only a couple of days or weeks of vacation.
Anyhow, try to mix your means of transportation.
Walk whenever possible.
It’s a great possibility to get to know the nearby shops and markets.
If you are traveling through Thailand, for example, use the night trains.
They are super comfortable, good value for money and instead of ‘loosing’ a whole day for traveling you will have good nights sleep while on the rails.
It’s as easy with most of the busses, especially in Southeast Asia.
You will find bus connections to almost every place you can imagine.
Of course, taking public transport is not always the fastest way to get around but it’s also a great way to save money. ;)
7. Choose sustainable operators
Apart from supporting sustainable travel directly by your own actions, have in mind to choose tour operators and accommodations that support responsible tourism.
Consider their environmentally friendly practices, make sure they protect cultural heritage instead of exploiting local communities and ask if they employ locals.
Since sustainable tourism is becoming more and more popular it’s easy to find eco hotels and operators these days.
Tip: If you aren’t sure if an operator’s offer is sustainable, ask directly before booking with them.