Exploring what’s possible, through human kindness and an elevated sense of understanding of the world around us, we can all travel sustainably and leave a lasting but positive footprint on the places we visit.
Firstly, for many, ourselves included, who find the saturated, vacuous and moronic language some use to justify their less-conscious travels, (whether that be littering, respecting local culture or feeding out of the local economy) very confusing, we may not be truly sure what “Sustainable Tourism” actually means. Everyone is posting images on social media of beautiful beaches holding plastic cups of beer or taking selfies with WILD animals, but can we take a step back to think how we can change the way we travel, embody the idea of a true nomad and begin to travel sustainably and consciously.
According to the ever knowledgeable internet, Wikipedia to be exact, here is the definition, “Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy. Tourism can involve primary transportation to the general location, local transportation, accommodations, entertainment, recreation, nourishment and shopping”.
So let us break it down into a few short but sweet summaries of how you can apply a higher understanding of the way you explore!
Top 3 Tips To Get Started With Traveling Consciously.
- Public Transport- Its simple and easy but you would be surprised at how much this helps with “leaving a positive impact”. Taking public transport over say, car hire or a taxi lowers your carbon footprint but most importantly it pays into the local economy in a meaningful way. Taking the bus, for example, is cheap, convenient and opens up the opportunity to see the landscape in a different way. The world over, there are fantastic public transport options, from Japan to Jakarta, to Malawi and Milan.
- Take all your rubbish with you- Again, another basic tip but if you keep it in mind, you will be more aware of just how much litter and rubbish one person can produce in one day. Food packaging primarily; If you buy zip lock divider bags via Amazon (click here to shop) you can collect your rubbish throughout the day then where possible either google or speak to your hostel/hotel reception to find where the nearest recycling facilities are, to dispose of your rubbish correctly.
- Pack light and live minimally- This is a good rule to implement into your everyday life but particularly when travelling. Start small, do you need a separate product for washing your hair and body?- Or can you buy one clean and biodegradable product? Can you buy a recyclable toothbrush and toothpaste too? Can you pack only a few items of clothing that are made from high quality, environmentally friendly and high tech fabrics to make the necessity to wash them- redundant? Small changes like this help take the need for the “superfluous” out of your life and making your travelling experience more pure and organic. The surroundings are more important than the possessions, no?
Why is it legitimately important to travel sustainably?
Above all else, the primary answer is THE ENVIRONMENT. The is no credible argument to dispute that the problems with global deprivation and climate change are not pressing and utterly and immediately detrimental. Anything we can do on an individual base is not devalued by the fact “I am just one person, what difference can I make”. You have the power to create a massive difference through encouragement, inspiration and education. If you decide to go vegan or veggie, perhaps to decide to live as minimally as possible or choose to spend time in nature, nurturing nature through outdoor pursuits and using public transport, this is a viable and promising step in the right direction.
Secondly, there is the subject of morality and respect for local culture. The whole concept of sustainable tourism continues with supporting and respecting local culture and customs; for example when visiting temples, churches and holy places, whether you are religious or not, be respectful of covering certain body parts, observing the silence etc. Simply visiting these wonderful places of interest, paying for tickets, guides and so on, help feed into the local economy and continuing the restoration and preservation of national relics.
This could arguably also mean learning a few words in the local language if only to show your appreciation and love for the country- smiles are universal but universally, locals LOVE when tourists learn a word or two in the local lingo.
Spend time in nature.
This is one of our favourite things to do, at home or abroad. Just like the point above that refers to visiting holy places and monuments of national significance, equally as important is spending time in the local nature. Visiting reserves, national parks and protected areas. Paying for guides and entrance fees again feeds into the national economy but it helps emphasise the importance of the countries national heritage and encourages governments and councils to keep the areas protected. Ensure you are mindful when visiting, taking your rubbish with you, cleaning up after yourself and observing with awe, how the landscape looks is a wonderful thing.
To finalise; we want to go on the record and say, we are not demonising social media and this culture of documenting your travels, on the contrary, we want to encourage you, as we ourselves will do, to post about the country, encourage and inspire your friends and family to visit and travel ethically and consciously when visiting. Show your friends and family how wonderful it is to explore and discover these exotic and interesting lands with mindfulness and respect. Together, we can make the planet a better place through love, understanding and a little knowledge.