How to Travel more Sustainably
It can be challenging trying to be an eco-traveler when you carry everything you own in one single bag that lives on your back. But traveling sustainably doesn’t have to be heavy, complicated or time consuming.
Simple everyday things can make a difference to the local environment, the country you’re visiting and ultimately your budget.
I personally know it can be difficult in certain countries. Often in Mexico the taqueria's serve your food on a plate wrapped in a plastic bag to save them dishes. And there isn’t always safe drinking water or re-fill stations in Asia, meaning you are sometimes cornered into buying plastic water bottles.
This post isn’t to point the guilt-finger, but more so to encourage you to take on a more sustainable and conscious approach while your gallivanting around the globe.
Here’s a few things we do to help reduce our environmental impact when traveling:
TRAVEL WITH A REUSABLE DRINK BOTTLE
Even in countries where you can’t drink water from the tap, you can (mostly) always find a refill station somewhere between your hostel, a restaurant or cafe. My stainless steel Frida Kahlo bottle hasn't left my side for the past 1.5 years. Frida has been an trusty travel companion especially in Mexico with her incredible popularity! I’ve since got a thermo-bottle which keeps my water cold for up to 12 hours.
Learn how to say “NO PLASTIC BAG & STRAW” in the local language:
2 things that can be super harmful to our environment but are so easily avoided. There are lots of countries that are yet to comprehend the damage of the plastic bag and use them like they are going out of fashion.
CARRY A HANDBAG that is big enough to fit all your necessary daily items and any new purchases in. Plus you can also keep a fold-up re-useable bag inside for extra purchases!
SHOP LOCAL for fresh fruit and veg rather than at the large supermarkets. This also goes with souvenirs, buy from the local artisans and craftsmen. You'll most-often get a better deal too. Always support local businesses where ever in the world you are!
TAKE ECO-FRIENDLY TRANSPORTATION.
Walking and biking gives you a good feel for a place and it's culture. Also not to be forgotten, it helps keep you fit on the road after a few too many tacos and nights out on the beer! If you need to travel further, take public transportation like a bus, train or boat as all of these often are far more eco-friendly than flying (and kinder on the budget too!).
SAVE ENERGY & WATER by simply turning off lights, A/C, heaters and unplug chargers when you’re not there. Save water by having short showers or showering together! All the habits that you have at home to save on your energy bill should continue while your traveling overseas as well.
DON’T SUPPORT THE WILDLIFE TRADE
It’s never okay to buy souvenirs carved from elephant tusks, dried sea stars or fur. This also goes for getting photos with animals on the streets. That cute little monkey wearing a diaper and smoking a cigarette doesn’t belong on the street getting photos with tourists. Unfortunately, this is all too common in many third world countries. By giving your money, it's giving your stamp of approval. Don’t encourage the horrible mis-treatment of animals.
DON'T EVER VISIT A DOLPHIN PARK
Swimming with captive dolphins is a form of animal torture. Dolphins are intelligent creatures who have a sense of self and hold strong family bonds. They can not afford to be kept in a concrete jail. Picture your life spent going from one bath to another bath, away from your family, only occasionally seeing friends and being starved of food. Well this is how they live out their lives after they are brutally separated from their family in the wild and flown across the world to be used purely for human entertainment. Don’t fall for the “education” label!
BOOK WITH ECO-FRIENDLY TOUR COMPANIES
Don't go on tours that promote hands on animal encounters such as riding elephants in Bali or petting tigers in Thailand. By choosing a tour company that supports eco-friendly practices and doesn’t encourage animal cruelty, you are voting with your dollar. If we change the way we spend our money while traveling, the tour companies will change the way they run their tours to keep up with the ever-changing tourism demand.
Super simple stuff that you can do every day while traveling with little effort.. But makes all the difference!
** This post was written and photographed with my best friend and travel companion Alyssa from ODYSEA.
Backpacking together in Mexico and Caribbean islands, we realised how many simple changes we could make to our day-to-day ways that had really positive outcomes.