As a traveler, you would have already learned to appreciate some of the beauty and magnificence that Mother Nature has to offer.
From the glaciers of New Zealand to the forests of South America, the list is not only breathtaking but endless. However, as the population of the world increases, these places, and the animals we love are in danger of being gone forever. It is our duty to make responsible choices in our everyday life to ensure this doesn’t happen. While it might be easier to adopt a greener lifestyle at home, you can still do the same while backpacking/traveling!
Here are 8 simple rules for eco-friendly traveling:
1. Pick up your Litter.
This one might seem obvious, but it is also the easiest environmentally-friendly thing to do. Put all your rubbish in the bin, or wait until you get back to your accommodation and dispose of it there. This is particularly important in beach destinations, where plastic bags and wrappers can easily get swept away to sea and become a choking hazard for our sea turtle friends and other sea life!
2. Bring a Reusable Drink Bottle.
This one’s a little bit tricky. Last year in Bali, the hotel we stayed at didn’t provide us with any free water, so we had to buy huge bottles of it from the local store. Most hotels, however, will happily provide this for you, so fill your reusable bottle up in the morning before you start your day of exploring. Check if the country you are visiting also has tap water that is safe to drink (most Western countries will), you will minimize the amount of trash you make and best of all – it’s free!
3. Don’t Buy Travel-sized Bath Products
Not only are they a rip-off, but they are also very wasteful! If you are traveling for more than a week or so, you are better off going for the full-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner. You can always use the rest up when you get home.
There’s nothing better than sampling the local fare with your friends anyway, so ditch the McDonald’s and the plastic cutlery. Enjoy real, healthy food without the guilt.
5. Use Public Transport
This is not only a great way to see the city through a local’s eyes but is also a very environmentally-friendly way to travel! For longer distance traveling, make sure you do your research on reputable bus companies and plan for tickets. Sign up to newsletters and keep an eye out for discounts and promotions. There are lots of bus companies available for overland travel in places like Southeast Asia and South America, while some areas are more easily accessible by train. Keep your options open, and you might just save a few bucks, make a few friends, and have the trip of a lifetime!
Why not give something back during your travels? The internet is an excellent resource for finding companies that organize eco volunteerism tours, from tracking dolphins in Croatia, to helping conserve sea turtles and sloths in Costa Rica. Prices per night vary greatly, so find a program that suits your budget and time requirements. Always do some research and read up on other volunteers’ reviews before booking anything.
7. Don’t Buy Souvenirs Made of Animal Products
This one also seems obvious. Watch out for products made of animal bones, shells, teeth, skin, and fur as they may have come from a species close to being endangered or extinct. Corals and seashells, too- buying these contribute to the loss of important ecosystems in our oceans. Always ask if you are unsure. Search for alternative souvenirs that are cruelty-free, or take lots of photographs instead and make everyone on social media jealous that way!
There are no doubt many more ways we can reduce waste and be conscious travelers- can you think of any? There are so many amazing places in this world that I’m sure you’d like to show your children one day… so let’s all do our part in preserving them!
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