There are few travellers that haven’t been impacted by the current climate crisis. Many want to have a positive journey while simultaneously having as little an impact on the environment as possible. If you are thinking about making more sustainable choices when it comes to their travel, here are a few tips to help. Also included are a few general recommendations about cultural ‘niceties’ to keep in mind.
How to Travel Responsibly
There are so many interesting discoveries to be made when we travel. There is much to learn about the environment, nature, culture and other people. But it is also more important than ever to be sensitive to what is happening around you.
Did you know that cairns in Iceland have been there for centuries, built so that travellers didn’t get lost?
Here is a list of travel hacks for 2020 to make sustainable and responsible travel an easier choice.
1. Carbon offset your flights.
The harm created by carbon emissions when flying is significant so try to make sensible choices where you can. There isn’t a lot in the pipeline yet to alter the damage of jet engine fuels so offsetting flights is one of the few options to choose. There are plenty of carbon emission offset schemes worth looking at. Many airlines will have a click through that includes making a contribution to programmes meant to help with the environment.
2. Be attuned to nature
We all want to visit places that are natural, pristine and beautiful. But we need to ensure that we don’t impact these vulnerable places. For instance, in the Arctic’s Svalbard Archipelago, historic man-made items are not allowed to be moved or touched. This includes, for instance, the skeletal remains of Beluga whale hunting that took place in the 19th century. Generally speaking, off road driving can permanently damage areas that might look hardy but are actually vulnerable. Always stay on marked roads and, when hiking, on designated trails. Use common sense to help make decisions about the environment around you.
3. Choose sustainable products to take with you
There are a great many options and products out there to keep your travel kit as sustainable as possible. I switched to using reusable cotton swabs when discovering that there are literally billions of swabs being chucked into landfill. Other choices are solid toiletries to limit soaps and chemicals getting into water. Eco-friendly travel towels also reduce the amount of chemicals going into waste water. Antibacterial and odourless clothing is another option. Shop for those here
4. Filter your water
It makes sense to take a water bottle with filtration so you can safely use the local water and not promote the sale of single use plastic bottles. There are dozens of options available at outdoor travel stockists and on-line.
5. Use a sun creme that doesn’t harm the environment
There are ingredients in many sun screen products that are now known to harm delicate marine environments, particularly coral reefs. Choose sun screen without oxybenzone which is known to be toxic. Choose, instead, products with zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Be sure to check the ingredient list to ensure your reef friendly choice does not contain oxybenzone.
6. Don’t remove or collect pine cones, sea shells or other momentos from natural places
We have heard for years that we mustn’t take anything from nature other than photographs. Now is the time to heed this advice. If you take one item, you may think it isn’t having an impact. The problem is that if every visitor takes this same view, a natural place may end up being stripped of important and irreplaceable assets.
7. Try the local food and drink
It probably goes without saying that it is important to engage in the culture you are visiting. As long as the environment is clean and sanitary, trying new foods and local beverages is a fantastic way to learn about a new place. Just remember there are important cultural factors to keep in mind such as eating with your right hand when in India, Africa and Middle Eastern countries. For instance in Ethiopia, inhabitants eat with their hands using injera (a type of sour bread). Diners scoop up the food with a torn off piece of bread. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before and after eating.
Tej – Ethiopian Honey Liquour
8. Taking local’s photographs
In rural Cambodia, many of the inhabitants are very shy and have an aversion to having their picture taken. It is important to politely ask whenever taking someone’s picture and to be sensitive to individual’s proclivities. If you have taken a candid shot, be sure to show your subjects the finished product.
9. Pick up after yourself
Particularly when camping in the wild it is incredibly important to carry out all and any trash, put out fires and leave everything as you found it. This is also true when spending a day on the beach, having a walk in town or after having a picnic. Again, use common sense.
10. Be friendly but alert
Everyone knows that it is important to keep cash and phones stashed away when travelling. Perhaps another way not be targeted is to be alert but also relaxed. Fit in as much as possible and be attuned to your environment. Attire wise, fit in as much as reasonable with the locals. Don’t wear expensive jewellery or carry expensive designer hand bags. Generally, try not to be a beacon that screams ‘I’m a tourist!’