Traveling with an eco-friendly mindset takes a little bit more planning than just booking a plane ticket. Spending just a little bit of time on how you plan on traveling can go a long way towards reducing your impact on the countries you’re visiting.
Here are a few tips for traveling sustainably anywhere in the world.
==> Research the Environmental & Moral Issues before Landing
What are some of the environmental issues of the areas you’re visiting? What are some of the moral issues you should be aware of?
For example, tourists often give money to kids begging or selling trinkets on the street. In many countries, however, those kids are part of a larger business that collects the actual profits.
Giving money to the kids actually perpetuates child labor. Though tourists feel good about giving the money, they haven’t done the research to see what’s really going on.
Make sure you know the issues of the area you’re going to before you land.
==> Buy from Local Vendors
In most countries you go to, you’ll have large convenient stores and smaller local stores. As a tourist, it can be very tempting to frequent the larger corporate stores.
These stores are better stocked, often have more consistent products throughout their chains and are often slightly cheaper than local merchants.
However, if you really want to support the local economy rather than shareholders of a global corporation, buy from the local merchants instead.
==> Have a Local Guide You
If you want to have some really interesting experiences while supporting the locals outside of the tourism industry, try having a local take you to some unique and authentic local experiences.
One easy way to meet locals is through CouchSurfing. Just about any country you go to will dozens or hundreds of locals who would be happy to show you around.
Having a local show you the local food, local culture, local festivals and local hidden gems is a great way to interact with the real culture of a country, rather than just the side they show tourists.
==> Choose Low Impact Activities
Make sure you consider the impact you make through the activities you choose.
Going elephant riding might sound like a lot of fun, but if the trainers are actually hurting the elephants, it might not be an activity you want to support.
Research the activities you want to partake in to make sure that they’re industries and people you want to support.
Traveling sustainability does require more thought and research beforehand. That said, the more people who travel in this manner, the better it would be both for the country you’re traveling in and the world at large. If you can get other travelers to adopt a similar mindset, this kind of environmental consciousness can spread.