Environmental awareness is on the rise with help from advocates like Greta Thunberg and Leonardo DiCaprio. People are beginning to realize that the time to take charge is now. Even while traveling, it’s important to have a sustainable mindset so to make a positive impact on the places we visit. Here’s how to be a more sustainable traveller in 2020.
What is sustainable travel?
Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting somewhere with the intent of being conscious to make a positive impact on the environment, economy, and society. It’s a combination of businesses, politicians, tourists, and locals altogether striving for sustainability in the tourism industry.
As the World Tourism Organization states, sustainable tourism is “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities.”
How to travel sustainably:
Read up on your destination.
Do your research. Familiarize yourself with the local customs, lifestyle, and religion of the place or places you plan to visit. This doesn’t need to be extensive. However, if you want to be the best possible responsible and sustainable tourist, a little research will go a long way.
There’s Facebook communities like Girls LOVE Travel and Girls Travel Europe (if you’re a girl) as well as hundreds of forums on Nomadic Matt and many more where you can chat with people who have spent extensive time in the destination, or better yet, locals themselves.
Book everything carefully.
Here’s another way that research comes in handy. To fully be a sustainable traveler, booking through responsible and eco-friendly companies is the way to go. Whether you’re booking an entire tour through a company or just accommodation, try to choose the most responsible ones possible.
How can you know if you’re booking with a responsible company? Many have specific pages on their websites dedicated to their dedication to positive impact, cutting down waste, and making travel sustainable. Search your travel company + responsible travel or sustainable travel and see what you can find.
Here are some excellent companies:
Kynder combines the most eco-conscious cafes, bars, restaurants, and hotels in Europe and the US into one hub so you can quickly find the kindest spots in your destination.
Ecobnb is basically like Airbnb but strictly eco-friendly. You can find private rooms, houses, eco lodges, and more.
Spend your money locally.
Get your groceries from local, organic shops, buy your souvenirs from local vendors, and avoid chains at all costs when eating out. Explore beautiful local cafes with freshly roasted coffee, feed yourself with goodies from farmers’ markets, and let the locals cook your dinner. Plus, local cuisine is always going to be fresher and plus you’re traveling so trying new dishes is all part of the excitement.
When you do this, less CO2 emissions are being released because international companies will restock less, and you’ll be putting money back into the hands of local businesses rather than multimillion-dollar companies.
Be careful when it comes to attractions with animals.
This one might be hard to resist because c’mon petting a tiger or elephant would be amazing! However, many countries don’t have the same care for animal rights as countries such as the United States. Animals are often times mistreated, abused, malnourished, and drugged for the take of tourism.
If you do want to see animals while you’re traveling, do thorough research to make sure you’re going to be most ethical animal sanctuaries. Not finding anything? Volunteer and get up close and personal with animals that way!
Walk or take public transportation.
Finally, get to exploring your destination on foot. You’ll not only get a better feel for the place but you’re always lowering your impact completely. You can also cycle for a more exciting adventure around the city or town. For longer journeys, check out subways, trains, and trams and only fly if you really have to.
Take on your 2020 travels while being the most sustainable version of yourself! Safe travels!
Christa Adams is a writer, photographer, and sustainable traveler based in Barcelona. She’s been traveling solo since 2014 has a passion for the outdoors, coffee culture, and exploring quaint European towns. Follow her adventures at www.thespiritedexplorer.com.