Sustainable travel: how to explore and protect our planet
If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you go? If you’re like most people, you’ll probably struggle to choose just one location from your list of must-visit regions. In fact, when you look at the global data, it seems like all people share a passion for traveling.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, tourism makes up 10% of the global economy, with 1.2 billion travelers heading out on new adventures every year. This widespread love of travel supports millions of jobs in a variety of industries, but it can also cause a myriad of negative consequences.
The problem with overtourism
Just a few decades ago, climbing Mt. Everest was seen as an outstanding achievement of human strength and endurance. Now, the previously intimidating mountain is a victim of overtourism. Thousands of people are willing to pay top dollar for guided expeditions to the summit, leaving Everst littered with trash and multiple frozen corpses.
Other highly popular destinations have suffered similar fates due to overtourism. The Louvre shut down in late May when employees went on strike, stating that the high number of visitors has made the museum dangerous and unmanageable. Beaches in Thailand and Mexico have been closed off to the public to allow the destroyed environments to recover. Reykjavik, Venice, Barcelona, and several other globally recognized cities have started to limit travelers after seeing the damage overtourism can cause.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should cancel your next vacation and stay home. If you want to travel, you can still enjoy an amazing trip abroad by making sustainable choices.
What is sustainable travel?
Sustainable travel is a way for adventurers to see the world while minimizing the harmful effects that tourism can have on local communities and the environment. Travelers make efforts to support eco-friendly and ethical organizations while practicing a number of responsible habits, such as:
Taking direct flights whenever possible.
Booking a non-stop flight is one way to avoid further pollution since takeoffs and landings contribute high levels of carbon emissions. Of course, if you’re taking a shorter flight, consider doing a road trip instead. Most travel experts agree that you should avoid flying unless it’s the only possible way to reach your destination.
Utilizing public transportation during your stay.
Get to know the local area, save money, and reduce your carbon footprint by taking busses or trains when you arrive at your destination.
Reducing your plastic use.
Most people don’t think twice about buying travel-size shampoo bottles or using plastic cutlery when they’re vacationing, but these small decisions can really add up. Bringing a reusable water bottle, politely declining to use plastic straws, and using reusable shopping bags are a few simple steps you can take to cut down on plastic waste.
Finding eco-friendly lodging.
Look for places that have their sustainability initiatives clearly stated on their websites. They should clearly describe the steps they have taken to reduce their use of natural resources; if it seems too vague, it might not be true. If you want to make sure the company is legit, you can check their certification on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council website.
Purchasing items from local sellers and artists.
If you’re looking for the perfect souvenir, visit local sellers to get something that’s truly unique. While you’re there, you can also get to know some of the people there and get the inside scoop about the best places to check out. You’ll be supporting and empowering the community rather than some massive corporation, and you can experience what it would really be like to live in the region.
Supporting organizations that benefit the local region.
Before your trip, do a quick Google search to look up what tourism agencies or shops give back to the locals. If you’d like to do more to help out, Pack for a Purpose will inform you of the best supplies to donate in different regions around the world.
Refusing to engage with wild animals.
Sustainable tourism companies should never encourage interacting with wild animals, including popular activities like riding elephants and swimming with dolphins. Even safaris should give the animals a wide berth to avoid frightening them or interfering with their natural inclinations.
If you’re tired of paying expensive roaming fees when traveling abroad, an international data SIM card is a sustainable solution that will go easy on your wallet. With reliable coverage in over 170 countries, BNESIM makes sure that you can stay connected to your loved ones no matter where your next adventure takes you. Simply create your own personalized plan to match your budget, install the SIM card, and then enjoy high-speed internet, texting, and calling on your next trip.
Cover photo credits: ssia_moon