Summer is officially here and while there is nothing wrong with taking a nice vacation someplace far away or close by, it is important to be conscious of the environmental and economic impacts of traveling. If you are wondering how you can do your part in protecting the planet and the places you visit this summer, here are five ways to make your travels more sustainable.
1. Visit Less-Traveled Destinations
Over-tourism is one of the biggest threats that popular travel destinations face. Tourism is a good thing for many cities because it supports the economy, but constant congestion of tourists can actually start to cause more harm than good.
Machu Picchu, Peru is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, however the Incan ruins are now at risk from littering and erosion. Other places, like Santorini, Greece do not have the systems to manage high amounts of waste.
Both of these cities, along with others, are having to take precautionary measures to avoid long-term damage to infrastructure and the natural environment. By exploring less sought-out destinations, you can reduce the strain that tourism puts on commonly-visited spots.
2. Stick to Environmentally-Friendly Activities
Green vacation adventures allow you to explore the destination you’re visiting while limiting your carbon footprint. Consider biking through the city instead of driving, going for a hike, kayaking, zip-lining or snorkeling. Be considerate of your natural surroundings by always staying on trails and using coral reef-friendly sunscreens during underwater adventures.
3. Give Back to the Community
Most of the revenue made by tourism in lower-income countries go to foreign-owned businesses and not the local community. To help support the economy and conservation efforts of the place you are visiting, seek out locally-owned restaurants, businesses and organizations that are making environmental differences in their area. For example, you can visit a wildlife rescue center instead of a tourist safari.
4. Be Plastic Conscious
It is becoming more common to see plastic waste in travel destination beaches, waterways and parks. Smaller countries and islands don’t have as effective waste management systems, so it is important to do our part in limiting the amount of plastic we use and get rid of when traveling.
Travel-size shampoo bottles and cosmetics that we buy at the store end up becoming waste in the places we are visiting. Try to use reusable, refillable containers and toiletry bottles so less plastic ends up in the environment.
5. Find Eco-Friendly Lodging
According to Pygmy Elephant, an eco-lodge focuses on minimizing the negative effect lodging has on the environment, while positively contributing to local communities and conservation efforts. Eco-lodges provide their services using reusable energy sources and water preservation, as well as organic materials, non-toxic supplies, and locally-produced foods.
Some of the most beautiful eco-friendly lodges in the world include: Svart Hotel in Norway, El Nido Resorts in the Philippines, Jetwing Surf in Sri Lanka, Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador, Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica, Ecocamp Patagonia in Chile and Daintree Wilderness Lodge in Australia.