“Take only pictures, leave only footprints” is the motto of any sustainable traveller. I believe travellers can have a wonderfully positive impact on the world, and much like anything, tourism also has a dark side. Here are five simple ways you can tread more lightly on the earth and communities you visit throughout your travels.
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1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
This can be more difficult when you’re away from home, but with some thoughtful packing and a few clever products, you can greatly reduce your rubbish on the road. Here are my favourites:
- Humangear GoToob, 3-Pack – buy your favourite toiletries in bulk and fill reusable travel sized containers to take with you. GoToobs have kept me almost leak free for the last 10yrs and are acceptable carry-on size.
- Reusable water bottle – there are so many places that the water is unfit to drink. Take a reusable water bottle to refill at your accommodation, and reduce plastic refuse along the way. The “bladder” style Platypus SoftBottle is great for saving space in your bag.
- Reusable coffee mug – if you can’t live without your morning latte or cup of tea, use a reusable mug like the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Travel Mug to limit the number of disposable cups you churn through over the course of your journey.
Reconsider your mode of transportation, accommodation and restaurant choices– is there another option?
A local business over a multinational chain?
An eco-hotel over an OTT resort?
A bicycle over a taxi?
Locally produced, artisan made mementos over imported souvenirs?
Every choice is an opportunity to make a difference!
Do your pre-departure reading and find out about local customs and etiquette. It’s much easier to plan appropriate clothing before you start packing. Also, some prior knowledge can take the edge of culture shock and help you communicate non-verbally in places you don’t speak the language, without offending anyone.
Refuse begging children–I know it’s hard turning down the cute, pleading faces. While these kids are probably an important income source for their family, the cycle of poverty can never be broken if they don’t get an education. If they aren’t earning money, their parents are more likely to send them to school.
Always politely request to take someone’s photo. A simple smile, as you hold up your camera will usually get a nod. In some places now heavily frequented by tourists, don’t be surprised if a tip is expected in return.
What steps can you add to becoming a more sustainable traveler? I’d love to read them in the comments below… For help buying more sustainable or what I call Soulful Souvenirs – download my guide for FREE over here!
Peace, love & inspiring travel,