Most travellers share the same interest and passion; exploring the world. So naturally we all want to take care of our planet and travel as sustainably as possible. For most, our minds immediately go to cutting out flights as our only sustainable option. But luckily for you, we have created a list of 7 easy hacks that will turn you into a sustainable traveller who’s ready to both explore and protect the planet.
One of the most popular ways to practise sustainability both at home and while travelling is to cut down on plastic waste. Did you know that up to 12 million metric tonnes of plastic leaks into the oceans each year? Crazy! But we can all do our bit to help reduce this. Here’s a few everyday changes that can also work well abroad: instead of buying bottled water everywhere you go, bring a reusable bottle that you can refill (bear in mind though that tap water in some countries isn’t suitable for drinking). Make sure to bring a reusable bag instead of buying plastic ones when you go to shops. Skip the straws! Avoid plastic straws at all costs, pop a reusable straw in your bag instead.
But why stop there? Taking along a small container for snacks can help reduce your plastic consumption, as can reusable cutlery. If you’re short on space, even taking one item, such as a foldable spork, can help reduce your footprint. You can also choose a bamboo or biodegradable toothbrush and bring soaps and shampoos in refillable bottles. All of this adds up and contributes to reducing plastic waste.
It is likely you will cross paths with exotic wildlife on your travels and, of course, you are going to want to get up close and take pictures. However, this needs to stop and it is up to us to respect the wildlife and leave without a trace.
So how can you appreciate the wildlife sustainably? Firstly, you should ensure you are observing from a distance keeping at least 100 yards between you and the animals. Secondly, it is important not to feed the wildlife - feeding animals can damage their health, alter their behaviour and expose them to natural predators. And lastly, it is also worth mentioning that you should completely avoid approaching wildlife during sensitive periods i.e., mating, nesting and winter periods.
Certain animal activities such as feeding tigers and riding elephants should be avoided. The animals are often kept in poor conditions and are likely to have been given a sedative in order to make it ‘safe’ for humans to approach. Having said that there are reputable sanctuaries and animal conservation centres in which you can safely interact with and help wild animals.
During your travels, particularly if you are backpacking, you may choose to settle and stay in a certain area for a longer period of time. It may even be beneficial to rent a car when exploring larger places. Most rental companies offer electric cars as an alternative to petrol cars which results in a much more sustainable way to travel around. Another increasingly popular way to get around is electric scooters which are much more eco-friendly than taxis or public transport.
What do we mean by support the locals we hear you ask... It is as simple as it sounds, when travelling to a new town or city it is important to support the local businesses. The vibrant and strong community that’s attracted you to the location was built by the locals so it is our duty to give back. This means eating at the local restaurants, booking locally owned accommodation, taking tours with the local guides all whilst spreading the word and leaving good reviews on how the local community made your stay a pleasant one.
We can also support local businesses through interacting with their social media. If you enjoyed your coffee at the local café or had a splendid meal at the local restaurant then why not give them a follow on Instagram? You can even take it one step further and tag them in any photos you took in their store because who doesn’t love a selfie in a café?
One of the most respectful things you can do to be a sustainable traveller is to not leave a trace when you leave. Leaving litter can do much more harm than you think. Researchers estimate that more than 40% of the world's litter is burned in the open air, which can release toxic emissions. These emissions can cause respiratory issues and other health problems. Litter also kills and stunts plant growth as well as trapping small animals causing them great harm and even death.
So, make sure you clear any litter or rubbish to help protect the environment and the wildlife. You can even go one step further and clean up other people’s rubbish ensuring nothing but footprints are left behind. Some companies actually organise ‘clean ups’ along local beaches or in nature reserves which you can book on to so this may be something to look into.
Now I know what you are thinking, we have already made a point that we can travel sustainably by renting out electric cars. However, there are alternative, sustainable, ways to get around. If you are in a big group, consider taking to a bus or a train to get to your destination instead of renting multiple cars.
Is the location you are trying to get to walkable? Maybe you can find yourself a beautiful route to walk down instead of driving, if it worked a million years ago it can work now!
Tourism heavily relies on energy for heating, lighting and electricity. This along with intensive water use can put a strain on local water supplies and energy infrastructure. Therefore, it is important to do what you can to help conserve the local water and energy. This can be helped by simple things such as turning off lights and other electronics when they are not in use, showering instead of using a bath and taking as little time as possible, turn off the tap when brushing your teeth and even hand-washing your own clothes to prevent unnecessary laundering. When travelling this is easier than ever with more and more eco-friendly accommodations opening up that uses less water and energy.
Alpha Travel Insurance is a trading name of Travel Insurance Facilities Plc, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN306537. tifgroup is trading name of Travel Insurance Facilities Plc registered in England No. 3220410. tifgroup; all rights reserved. Registered Office: 1 Tower View, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UY. All policies offered are on a non-advised basis