Its 2019 and there’s never been a better time to travel than now! Technology and Travel infrastructure around the world has made destinations accessible and cheaper to everyone. The other side of this scenario is that tourism is putting an alarming pressure on earth’s ecosystem. Tourism is blamed for many of the economic and social problems affecting destinations. It is now up to the travel community to learn How to be a Responsible Traveler.
If you are reading this article, we know for sure that you want to make this earth a better place!
#1 How to be a Responsible Traveler: Say NO to packaged drinking water.
Single use plastic products such as straws, packaged drinking water bottles, disposable cutlery are choking the earth’s Ecosystem as most of them are non biodegradable. Which means that the plastic bottle you used today may be lying around long after you have died and gone.
Make a conscious decision today to avoid single use plastics when you travel. Carry your own refillable water bottle and refill it when ever you find a water dispenser.
In destinations where drinking water is not easily available or if you doubt the water quality, carry portable water purifiers.
A research conducted in 2018 states that 8.3 billion plastic straws are currently polluting earths surface!
Don’t add to this number when you travel. Carry your own cutlery and reusable straws when ever you travel. Politely refuse single use cutlery at restaurants, because if the demand is reduced the production will reduce too.
#2 How to be a Responsible Traveler: Use Public Transport
Hiring a taxi is definitely the most convenient mode of travel. It is also the most expensive and non environment friendly mode of transport. Carbon emissions from vehicles is not the only cause of the problem. Personal transport options such as taxis put a strain on the traffic at the destination and cause congestion.
By planning ahead and opting for public transport such as buses and trains, you contribute towards making the destination better. At the same time, your travel budget is also reduced due to the cheaper fares.
#Tip: Most international airports provide bus services to major city centers at affordable rates to passengers. Find out the time table online and plan your travel accordingly!
#3 How to be a Responsible Traveler: Stay at Eco Friendly hotels
Hotels pump out an alarming quantity of waste into the local environment everyday. The hotel industry is also the leading cause of depletion of ground water levels at many destinations. We recommend that you choose hotels that actively practice environment friendly practices to curb their impact.
Be cautious of hotels that promote them self as ‘Eco Hotel’ but do nothing in reality, as this has become a marketing gimmick with many establishments.
Look for these signs before you book the hotel room to determine if it is truly Eco friendly:
- The hotel has a person in charge of Sustainable practices and these policies are publicly displayed
- Type of building construction used must be sustainable
- Look at how the surrounding land is developed – An example: If the land surrounding the building is covered with green lawns, then it is a sure sign that millions of gallons of water is wasted to take care of it. Instead look for premises that are forested with local species of plants/trees.
- The hotel has a large proportion of locals as employees and actively gives back to local communities
- Energy and waste is properly managed – Look for the principles of ‘Reduce – Reuse – Recycle’ put into practice
- The hotel takes care of its employees and pays fair wages
- Look for environment friendly certification from trusted organisations given to the hotel
You can also directly support locals by staying at Home stays that are run by locals.
#4 How to be a Responsible Traveler: Say No to Animal Abuse
Travel to exotic destinations often brings forth images of animals used in tourism. Some examples include Elephant rides, photo opportunities with Tigers, animal circuses and feeding sessions with exotic animals.
No matter how much an establishment claims that the animals are well taken care of, it is advisable to avoid any attraction that involves animals. This is because the animals are often subjected to rigorous training, confinement and separation from natural habitat.
Most display tigers are sedated to make them calm enough to pose with tourists for photograph. This is a very inhuman practice and abuses the animals right to live a full life.
Visit wild life sanctuaries if you must see these animals and choose only those that are non invasive into the habitat of the wildlife.
#5 How to be a Responsible Traveler: Avoid destinations that are Vulnerable
Venice, Barcelona, Maldives are some of the destinations that we often dream to visit. Unfortunately, these destinations have started to degrade due to ‘Overtourism’.
Overtourism is a situation wherein the destination is unable to keep up with the inflow of tourists, leading to a deterioration of the destination or experience.
It is best to avoid popular destinations that are over crowded and visit off beat destinations instead. You will have to research well in advance about the destination, however, your experiences are bound to be more authentic than touristy places.
After all, who doesn’t like a peaceful stay and an unadulterated travel experience?
Author: Jovial Anthony Fernandes