Awareness is the key. Many are still uninformed of some practices while traveling which could hurt not only the travels but also the environment. To avoid the common mistakes, create change, and be a responsible traveler, here are ways on how to travel more responsibly:
Turn off/Unplug your appliances
Depending on how long you’ll be away, it’s practical and safe to turn-off and unplug everything. Save energy and money because no one wants the power running in an empty house. Turn off the lights, air-conditioning, water supply, and heater. If you’re worried about your home looking empty while you’re away, it’s wise to use solar-powered or timed lights outdoors. To avoid problems like possible leaks, it’s best to switch off your water supply. Unplug appliances and electronics that continuously draw electricity, like those with “standby” and “sleep” modes: TVs; computers; DVD players; radios; also include your automatic garage door opener.
Every day millions of plastics are used; help reduce the amount of plastics that usually end up in the streets, landfills, and seas. Anything disposable is a big problem for the environment. Limit your consumption while away from home and bring with reusable bottles, utensil sets, drinking straws (these are a big hit nowadays), and reusable bags.
Use environment-friendly, cruelty-free toiletries
While it is wise to keep your skin healthy and protected while on the go, it is also equally important to purchase products with no harsh chemicals. Consider toiletries like natural deodorants, solid shampoos, lotions, and toothpastes that aren’t being tested on animals, are organic and packed in recycled materials.
Fly direct or consider offset flights
Without a doubt, flying nonstop can be expensive. But with seat sales and promo deals popping in once in a while, you’ll be convinced that direct flights are worth it not only for the convenience, but also for the environment. Certain airlines let passengers compensate for the carbon footprint created by flying by buying carbon offsets. Several offset options, like donations to conservation programs and the popular tree planting, let you take out the carbon dioxide from the greenhouse gas you have produced. But if you can, lessen your flying trips.
There’s a reason the latest smartphones were made to fit in the palm of your hand, so why not best utilize it? Limit paper production, forget print out boarding passes, tickets, maps, and guidebooks. Just go digital — carry less and travel seamlessly.
Certified green hotels are those that have passed standards in promoting sustainable tourism through design, construction, and practices: solar power heated pools; structure made of recycled materials; harvesting rainwater; turning off air-conditioning or heaters in empty rooms; utilizing energy efficient lighting and other sustainable initiatives. Though it can be a bit tricky to look for green hotel and resorts, nothing feels as rewarding and fulfilling than vacationing at a place that you know is helping Mother Earth.
Bike and walk, rent hybrids or fuel efficient vehicles
Going on walking tours or, one of the newest trends in travel, cycling tours, and taking public transportations help reduce carbon footprints and lessen road congestion. Walking lets you get some leg-stretching or simply a good exercise after long hours of flying or driving. If you need to rent, opt for hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicles and don’t choose anything that’s bigger than what you need.
Support local lifestyles
Since you traveled to your destination to explore and experience new things, why not support the local lifestyle. Buying locally grown products have more advantages than you think. Apart from helping the community and economy, it helps cut emissions from having other products flown or shipped. Bring home souvenirs, but avoid those that are made from endangered plants and/or animals. Choose a local guide to take you around on tours. Look for those who offer homestays instead of internationally-run hotels; this offers a better immersion experience not only for you but for your hosts as well. It is wise to always do research prior to your trip as homestays aren’t always everyone’s thing.
Protect and preserve
“Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos, bring nothing but memories.” Nothing describes a “responsible traveler” more than this, especially when touring. To travel is to see, explore, and experience; but often people are unaware of the responsibilities that come along when going to places, like minimizing waste production, prioritizing animal rights, obeying rules and regulations to preserve wildlife, supporting protected areas, and more. More than being a traveler, humans are the caretakers of the earth.
Volunteer, donate, and support nonprofit organizations. These are some contributions that when done by individuals, create a huge difference. Make a positive impact on your chosen destination, environmentally and economically. Small acts of kindness go a long way: supporting a local business or buying a local product; sharing your skills with the locals you meet, and being an ambassador of their country.
Being a responsible traveler will always require extra effort and time. What matters is being able to do one’s part than doing nothing at all to preserve and protect.