There are many simple ways to travel with a low environmental impact, so long as we remember that our holiday spot is someone else’s home
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Thomas Young
?? March 2020
What does it actually mean to travel sustainably? Does it end with limiting your carbon footprint or does it start far back while you are still planning your next trip? To keep this short there is a simple mind set to follow whenever you travel in sustainable manner. Just remember to stay mindful.
Respecting the fact that your holiday destination is actually someone’s home is key to a vacation with a positive environmental impact. There are a few hacks to help you explore better and eco-friendlier. Perhaps the best advice any traveller has ever received is to keep it local. You might simply be passing through these remote snow-covered mountain villages or exotic tropical islands, but the dominant population in any location is likely to be of local citizens.
There are more than one ways to contribute to the local economy and the livelihood of residents when you are on vacation. The simplest way is to shop locally. Be conscious of where you spend your money and try to avoid big chains. Not only would this benefit the local residents, but it will also give you a way more authentic experience of the way people in the destination you visit dine, how they like to cook and overall how they live.
Another important aspect to sustainable travelling is getting to know the local economy. If you are going to a place where water is in short supply, for an example, make sure to waste as little of the resource as possible. Attempt to consume less energy and electricity in general. Turn the lights off when you leave the room like you would do at home and be aware of the footprint you would be leaving on the area once you are gone.
Another helpful tip is to consider bringing as many reusable items as possible. Bring your own beach towels for example. If you go hiking, take along your own plates and so on, making sure that you leave as little trash behind as possible. A reusable water bottle is a great step towards limiting your environmental footprint on any holiday and during your everyday life as well.
Seek sustainable accommodation. Depending on your choice of destination, research accommodations with a sustainable approach. More and more people seem to have noticed that good for the environment also means better profit as travellers become more aware of the effect their holidays create on nature. There are plenty hotels that use renewable energy sources and strive for limiting their plastic consumption. Some guest houses power up by solar panels, while chains make the promise of planting more trees and so on. Choose the most sustainable option if possible and know that every little effort helps as long as you remain mindful.
Try to avoid peak times and tourist seasons. This might sound impractical since the peak seasons are usually the best time to visit destination but we advise you to consider the matter from a different perspective. Off-peak hours and in general non-popular tourist times of the year will ensure that you will see the same monuments, museums or natural wonders without the hassle of crowds and selfie sticks. You will be able to enjoy the same dream destinations in more private and calm surroundings than most travellers do.
While avoiding plain travels might not always be possible, you can always remain mindful of the airlines with lowest emissions per passenger mile. Always fly economy since first class often has double the emissions and fly direct were possible. Instead of changing flights, consider converting part of your travelling by rail or road. Not only would you have a less harmful impact on nature, but you will also get the chance to explore more destinations and get to know the culture of more nations along the way.
Finally, be respectful of the local means of entertainment. While in some regions posing next to exotic animals such as elephants, can be a popular practise, it is often accompanied by unimaginable cruelty. Research before you visit. If the tourist temptations put profit above sustainability, avoid participating. Modern-day travellers have sparked a wave of tourist attractions that harm nature in the process, but the power to reverse the trend lays in the hands of everyone, who continues to travel.
Our choices create the demand that locals have to meet in order to secure their livelihood, so it is important to remain mindful. As long as travellers are respectful of the local culture and economy, sustainable travelling becomes just as easy and enjoyable as any other spontaneous or luxury vacation. Just remember, you are vacating in somebody else’s homeland – respect that and you will be one step closer to becoming a sustainable traveller.
NOMADSofORIGIN is an independent annual publication with a focus on sustainable travelling and global cultural values. Each issue features interviews, engaging articles and photo guides, which take our nomadic readers through different destinations and introduce them to local people's perspectives.
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