Although we are forever changed by our travels, it’s easy to overlook the enduring effects we have on the places we visit and the people who call them home. Take the example of Venice in Italy. Overtourism is draining the city’s resources and making life there too difficult for locals, so they’re leaving in droves and the city is sinking. That’s just one example of a rising issue, highlighting the need for sustainable vacations.
What is Sustainable Travel?
Maximizing the positive effects of tourism while minimizing the negative ones is the essence of sustainable travel.
Why is sustainable travel important?
Repeated studies have shown that tourism may have both beneficial and bad effects on locals, as well as on communities and the environment.
Environmental Impact of tourism
We have witnessed the harm that visitors, both innocent and malicious, have caused to coral reefs, national parks, and other cultural sites. A good motto to live by is “Take only memories, leave only footprints.” Don’t take anything from the beach with you, especially the sand or shells, and please don’t litter. Bringing products like water bottles that can be reused reduces waste and saves money.
Influence on the economy
When tourists favor independently owned inns and eateries over chain establishments, local economies are bolstered. Rather than purchasing mass-produced trinkets made in China (which will then need to be delivered to the area), consider investing in a unique piece created by a regional artisan. It’s beneficial for the community as a whole if as much money as possible can circulate among local residents.
Effects on Society
What we mean when we talk about the destination’s “social effect” is how it changes the lives of the locals there. It has the potential to either strengthen the community and foster a sense of pride or undermine cultural identity by making people feel bad about themselves and their traditions. It goes without saying that tourists should respect local traditions and view locals as equals while visiting a new destination. The best part of traveling is getting to meet people from all walks of life and learning that despite our differences, we are all the same deep down. These days, it’s easy to find a tour that lets you do some good while you travel. Whether it’s spending time with elephants in Thailand or hiking with Himalayan shepherds, there are plenty of tour operators that will let you make a difference as you see the world.
Change to a greener means of transportation
Even if walking, cycling, and transit are the most sustainable options, they aren’t necessarily the most convenient. Emissions from fossil fuel-powered transportation, particularly airplanes and automobiles, are major causes of climate change. Traveling with a carpool in a fuel-efficient vehicle can lessen the environmental impact of a lengthy trip, but trains are still the more sustainable alternative.
To reduce their impact on the environment, several airlines are “offsetting” their emissions by funding carbon-neutral initiatives like reforestation or the installation of solar panels and wind turbines. If you’re concerned about the environment, it’s better not to fly at all.
Sustainably improving your holiday meal plan
Since roughly half of the plastic that ends up in the seas originates from take-out containers, it’s better to eat in if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen. Visit your neighborhood farmer’s market for the freshest seafood, fruits, and veggies, and to show your support for the area’s independent food producers. You may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by shopping locally and eating less food transported long distances. Remember to bring your reusable shopping bags! Meet the merchants and build relationships while you shop. They may be great for learning the ins and outs of a location and getting recommendations from locals.
You should seek out farm-to-table experiences and eat at locally owned establishments whenever feasible when dining out. Many hotels either grow their own food or buy it from farms in the area.
Sustainable packing practices
Less is more when it comes to sustainable packaging. Less weight means less energy required by the aircraft, trains, or vehicles moving the luggage, which helps cut carbon emissions. Take into account the following:
It’s a good idea to bring things that can be used again. Traveling with reusable items like water bottles, coffee cups, and straws may help you save money and reduce waste on the road. You should also bring along some reusable zip-top bags and sustainable tote bags. They’re compact enough to fit in any suitcase and come in useful for picking up snacks and mementos from the local market.
Use solid, biodegradable shampoo, conditioner, and shaving bars to eliminate leaks, or carry refillable travel-size containers of your favorite shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion.
Instead of printing off your tickets, itinerary, and boarding permits, download them and save them on your phone to avoid using too much paper.
Consider purchasing eco-friendly, long-lasting baggage. For environmental reasons, you want that the parts remain in use for as long as possible.