So much more than a trend or a buzzword, ecotourism is gaining more traction every day due to the overwhelming damage we’ve caused our planet, the climate crisis we’re in, and the unhindered pollution all around us. Now, we all say we love to travel, admire Mother Nature, and give back to local communities by growing their economy, but understanding how detrimental traditional travel options can be may be the key to inspiring more people to opt for ecotourism instead.
Are you planning your next family vacation, perhaps? Here are a few ways you can alter your travel habits, make some more significant changes and, one trip at a time, help spread awareness and protect our lovely blue dot from further damage.
Location, location, location
Although the purpose of travel is often something along the lines of “relaxation” or “exploration”, the best decision you can make is to go somewhere where your presence would matter. There are plenty of stunning, exotic destinations where you can make a difference through volunteering, taking local ecotours and helping with their local issues.
Head to South Africa, Ecuador, or Thailand, among many other places to give back, help the environment, and see some of the most extraordinarily beautiful reserves the world has to offer.
We’ve come a long way since the first time we spread our wings and started flying all over the globe. Since United’s most eco-friendly flight, we now understand there’s so much more we can do to change our carbon footprint. Whenever possible, avoid flying, but when you need to, choose such trailblazers among airlines offering more sustainable options.
Alternatively, choose the destination based on how you can get there, by taking a train, going on an EV road trip, or taking a bus, for example.
Pack light and with nature in mind
What and how you pack can also make a huge difference when it comes to your own environmental impact. First of all, most of us are in the habit of packing too many unnecessary items – nip this habit in the bud and start packing only your essentials. Also make sure those essentials are made of natural fibers that are good for your skin and the planet.
Items such as breathable women’s socks, organically produced and made of bamboo, can last longer and protect your feet while you explore by reducing the risk of bacterial infections. Pack your essentials with the same principle in mind, and keep your luggage as light and mindful as possible.
Roam on your feet or pedal away
When you reach your destination, find ways to make your itinerary as sustainable as possible by changing the way you move around. It might seem convenient to hop on a bus every time you get the chance, but why not choose to cycle? You’ll get a more intimate glimpse of your destination, meet the locals, and spot some hidden treasures on your way to the museum.
Another option includes hiking as far as your feet can take you, which is a great way to stay active, take many photos (selfies included), and perhaps stop for a smoothie made of local groceries. If you do need to take the car, consider sharing the ride with more people so you can reduce your carbon footprint!
Green up your stay
One major part of your travels will revolve around the accommodation. Fortunately, we can now choose from an abundance of sustainable hotels that are implementing some innovative solutions to ensure their offers are as green as they can get. Look for eco-friendly hotels providing reusable energy sources such as solar energy, ones with smart water systems that prevent water waste, and ones using recycling as much as possible.
Another factor to consider is their menu – a green hotel will invest in purchasing from local farmers instead of choosing imported goods. That means no use of plastic packaging, no fuel wasted on importing the groceries, and a greater focus on building the local community. Look for accommodations offering local delicacies for that final touch of sustainability!
Support the community
Wherever you go, no matter how brief your stay may be, there are certain choices you make every day to impact lives in meaningful ways. For example, when you dine out, opt for restaurants and eateries that, just like your hotel, choose local farmers as their suppliers and make seasonal dishes.
When you’re looking for souvenirs, find local artisans making unique, locally-sourced items. Not only will you steer clear of any plastic, but you’ll also help their local economy and spread the word of their unique culture when you hand those souvenirs as gifts back home.
As the entire world is slowly starting to embrace the consequences of our actions, you can change some of your own habits for the better, one of them being how you travel. Use these tips to add an element of sustainability to your globetrotting, and enjoy the many adventures you’ll have!
Sophia Smith is a beauty blogger, an eco-lifestyle lover, graphic designer, and a food enthusiast. She is very passionate about traveling, yoga and living in balance with nature. Sophia writes mostly about lifestyle-related topics in her articles. She has also contributed to a number of publications including Cause Artist, Bad Yogi, Eco Warrior Princess, Life Goals Mag, How to Simplify, and Carousel. You can find out more about her writing by following her on Facebook or Twitter.