Whether you are coach surfing across South America, flashpacking through Europe, honeymooning in the Maldives or camping underneath the beautiful skies of Tanzania, there are many ways for travellers to seek our adventures in a sustainable manner.
Over the past few years, there continues to be an increasing interest by travellers of all styles to give back to the countries they are travelling to. Adventures to foreign and unknown lands are exhilarating experiences but our gift in return is to ensure that we do our part to minimize the negative environmental impact and continue to respect the cultures and well-being of the local populations that inhabit the areas we visit.
8. Invest in a filtered water bottle
The beauty of technology is that it continues to advance at rates that we can’t even seem to adapt to. As travellers, we have the ability to experience beautiful cities, countries and cultures while assisting with its sustainability.
A simple step? Invest into a water bottle instead of purchasing plastic water bottles while you’re on the road.
Honestly, I’ve only discovered the LifeStraw water filtration systems this past year and found it fascinating. You can take any water source (yes, even contaminated) and turn it into viable drinking water. Bottle is a tad heavy, but it’s a small price to pay for your contribution to reducing waste in the areas you are travelling through.
It’s a double win, reduce environmental impact and save money!
7. Bring a reusable bag
No matter what you are purchasing, plastic bags seem to be given out without a care in the world. Whether you’re buying a single banana or a bag full of local handcrafts, it is more likely than not to be bagged wastefully.
An easy and quick step we can take as travellers to mitigate the growing epidemic of plastic bags in landfills, streets and yes, the ocean; bring a re-usable bag. I bring my easily washable bag wherever I travel because it takes up very little room and can used as a shopping bag or beach bag.
6. Buy from local vendors and markets
No matter where in the world you are, there are a number of great markets selling local goods from coffee beans, coconuts and cozy alpaca blankets. A direct capital investment into the local economy is more likely to be positive, as it can be a meaningful contribution to the vendors’ daily lives.
Skip the big chain stores and go to the local markets to pick up your groceries and souvenirs.
5. Respect fair trade
In all countries, we have the power to negotiate especially if it does seem unreasonably high versus other vendors. However, there is a distinct difference between haggling and abusing the power of one’s currency.
Whether you are purchasing a single item or multiple, there is always room for bargaining as it is naturally priced in for vendors. However, price negotiation is reasonable to an extent but please don’t be that traveller asking for a $20 item to be sold for $2. Even if you are paying $12 for the item, realize that you are already getting the item at a significant discount relative to what you would have paid at home.
4. Walk, cycle and share a ride
In this case, more is less! There are many parts of the world that still run on diesel for their transportation, and sure we all need to get from one area to another. Take the scenic route by grabbing a bike or taking a stroll, it’s great exercise and you’re able to soak in your surrounding environment. On the flip side, there are always other travellers that are open to sharing a taxi to the airport, town or beach!
3. Bring down a suitcase of donated items
Sure, room can be an issue but how many times do we really use that extra checked in luggage allowance?
Our personal networks tend to have extras under their bathroom sinks, so why not make it a mini project of your own to bring down those extra tubes of toothpastes, travel sized hygiene products, make-up samples and even, gently used clothing?
It’s a great way to provide resources to those who need it vs. throwing them out when we clean our homes.
2. Avoid the “poor tours”
Travellers are up in arms about elephant rides, sedated tigers and of course, the infamous selfies that kill animals. With that in mind, it is quite obvious when I say that there is absolutely no reason for anyone to attend a tour to snap photos of individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
You wouldn’t appreciate if a stranger knocked on your door and snapped a selfie with you because of the colour of your skin, religion or sexual orientation. So, why would it be ok for a person to do this with members in impoverished communities?
Want to make a difference? Volunteer, bring resources and actually give back. Don’t kill time to see how “the poor live” because at the end of the day, we’re all human beings and ALL lives matter.
1. Let your love of travel overcome your fears
Terrible things can happen anywhere at any time and it doesn’t matter if you are at home or abroad. Let the love of travel, adventure and experiences overcome the fears (even if they do seem rational) because tourism really does help; especially those who have been plagued by stories of terrorism and aftermaths of natural disasters.
Each passport stamp we receive is a symbol the steps we have taken to support the countries we visit. We as travellers have the power to help fight the negative stigmas of the areas we travel to through our powerful stories, captivating pictures and personal experiences.