I studied tourism and I spent a lot of time reading about negative impacts that every single person can have on the environment when traveling. So here are few tips that everyone can easily follow to be sustainable even when traveling.
1. Buy Food From Local Markets
I've always wondered why people who traveled to another country keep eating in familiar fast food chains. Isn't the whole point of traveling abroad to catch a break from the well-known and try something new? Well anyhow, you should make the most out of your travels and that also includes tasting local food. The best way to do so is to visit local markets, shop or bakeries and buy your food there. Not only it is cheaper, more fresh and you really get the taste of the local food, but you also support small producers and contribute to the local economy by keeping your money in a country you're visiting.
2. Walking or Biking? Both!
I know, you can't always walk or bike and no one expects it from you. But think about it – what's the best transportation anywhere you go?It's your bare feet which will get you everywhere. Riding a bike is a bit faster alternative and I also think that getting to know your destination on a bike makes it more enjoyable. Most of all, it's ecological! You should really consider walking and biking every time you have a chance because you are not only keeping the negative impacts on the environment down to the minimum, but you also have fun and do something for your health. Everything at the same time! It's a real bargain!
3. Find a Locally Owned Place To Stay
Forget the big hotel chains and stay at small cosy family B&Bs or guest houses owned and operated by locals. The atmosphere is totally different than in big hotels. I remember my first stay in a tiny guest house in Siem Reap, Cambodia where one night the owner cooked the dinner for all of us staying there and we had a really nice time together with him and his family. Isn't it great to know that your money goes to and support the people who you met in person and who made sure that you had a great time while traveling? Another tip is that you can also check out if the place where you want to stay is environmentally friendly.
4. Re-use and Recycle
I know, it's not always easy to find a bin for recycling, especially when you travel in less developed countries. It requires a bit of an extra effort on your side but it's doable – you just need to ask. Speaking from my own experience, even if you haven't seen a recycling bin for a while, it doesn't mean that there is no recycling going on. While staying in Thailand, my friend who is really into recycling just couldn't make her peace with throwing away a plastic bottle together with other rubbish. So she asked at the reception and they told her to leave all the plastic bottles next to bin in our room because they actually recycle. Who would have thought?
5. Half an hour for a shower? Try again!
Be aware of local resources when traveling. Water is a good example as many countries has shortage of drinking water. And here you are, a traveler in this country taking shower for half an hour. Every day. Next time when you decide to spend so much time showering, think twice and cut your shower time to a minimum. And remember, the same applies for the electricity!
If you want to know more about sustainable travel and what you can do to minimize the negative impacts of traveling on the environment, check out this link. Travel sustainably!