Summer will soon be upon us, with for many people means that there are some travels coming up. If you’re going to be embarking on a holiday soon and are looking for some tips on how to travel more consciously, this is the post for you. I’m sharing some of my tips on how to travel in a more ethical and environmentally friendly manner. I promise you it is easy to do and you won’t have to sacrifice anything on your trip; only good things will come from these small changes!
Minimise Your Waste
Travelling tends to go hand in hand with more waste production. Eating and drinking on the go, buying souvenirs; you can quickly find yourself using plastic straws, cutlery and single-use bags. If you already minimise your waste at home, take these same tactics with you when you travel. When I travel, I always make sure I bring a Tupperware box with me, as well as some bamboo straws, reusable cutlery, a water bottle and some canvas bags. This allows me to cut down on my waste without having to sacrifice getting yummy food and drinks on the way or buying things on my trip.
Help the Local Community
I find that helping the local community of the place I am exploring is a great and rewarding way of travelling more consciously. This is how I see it: you are a guest in the country you are visiting, so the least you can do is help out a little bit with what is needed most. It is usually pretty easy to find opportunities to help out; check local bulletin boards and ask around. For example, I helped clean up plastic waste in the ocean in Gili Air through a voluntary diving trip that I learned about through the diving school I was attending at the time. You can find things similar to this in many countries, such a beach cleanups.
One thing to note here though: stay clear of negative volunteer opportunities, often called “volunteerism”. This usually comes in the form of helping out local children for a few days. Whilst this might seem like a worthwhile activity to take part in, make sure you think of the children you are interacting with. Often, they see countless volunteers each year without being able to truly bond with anyone, making the experience a negative one for them at times. At the end of the day, the goal is the help out the local community in ways that is most helpful and beneficial for them!
Support Local Business
Perhaps one of the most effective ways you can travel consciously is by supporting local business. You want to ensure that the money you are spending whilst travelling is going to the local people, who will benefit most from it. This is an easy thing to do, and usually you’ll have a much more authentic and enjoyable travel experience. Choose local cafés over international chains, stay in local hotels instead of big multinational ones and try shopping at the local market instead of in a big supermarket. These are all small things you can do in order to support local business that will make a big difference to those you encounter on your travels.
Research Your Activities
When you get to a new place, you can often find yourself overwhelmed with the activities on offer. Enjoying new experiences is one of the best parts of travelling, but I urge you to do a little bit of research into activities before you commit to them. Often times, popular activities turn out to have a very negative impact on the local environment and community. Take elephant riding in Thailand for example; for years, this was an extremely popular activity to take part in whilst visiting the country. People, admittedly including myself, rode these elephants without thinking too much about the impact this was having on the animals.
Luckily, there has been more awareness around this lately, and people are realising that it is not an ethical activity to take part in whilst travelling. Instead, support elephant sanctuaries, where you can still observe the elephants but without harming them, and support the local people working to rehabilitate them. The same goes for activities such as quad biking, which can often times ruin the local environment, and shark cage diving, which is extremely harmful both for the animals and local people living in the country. There are plenty of fun activities to take part in on your trip that are ethical and beneficial to the local environment and community; all you have to do is a little research beforehand!
This post was originally written by me for the Uncaptive Co blog, see here: https://www.uncaptive.co.uk/blog/2018/5/23/conscious-travel-embark-on-an-ethical-trip