Eco-Tourism Is A Fit For Every Kind Of Traveler
Many travelers are keen to explore the great outdoors when they travel. And many more are eager to help protect the destinations responsible for their special memories. But traditional eco-tourism (traveling green) doesn’t carry broad appeal for every traveler. Many envision barebones accommodations and strenuous mountain hikes. But the truth is that any traveler can incorporate eco-tourism principles into their next trip and, in fact, may find their experience is all the richer for it.
Planning Your Green Trip: Protecting the Earth With Little StepsWhenever possible, buy your gear and guidebooks second hand. Not only will you save a lot of money, you will also keep unwanted travel supplies from being discarded into a landfill. And there’s a very good chance you’ll get a higher standard of gear “pre-loved” than what you could afford buying new. Expensive specialist items like backpacking tents and ultralight parkas often resell for pennies on the dollar. Pack biodegradable toiletries. Chemical free, organic, biodegradable toiletries are kind to the environment and gentle on travel-worn, sensitive skin. “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap” enjoys a cult status among environmentalists and fans of light packing. Bring along a lightweight, reusable shopping bag and keep it with your day bag. When you come across a lovely cheese shop, bakery, or farm stand, you won’t need a plastic bag to bring your treats home.
When You Arrive At Your Destination: Eco-Tourism in ActionWhile on the road, support sustainable travel by spending your money responsibly. Choose hotels, restaurants, and stores that have a local base of ownership so more of your money stays within the community. Even if you think you’re past the days of crashing in a dorm room, consider staying in a hostel run by Hosteling International. Most locations have private rooms. Some even come with ensuite bathrooms. And all have an outstanding environmental record and are actively engaged in ways to reduce their carbon footprint. And travel insurance will protect your gear in a hostel just as it would in a hotel. Don’t forget that some of the most old-fashioned environmental tips are still the best when it comes to hotels. Hang up your towels after you use them so housekeeping staff knows they don’t need to be refreshed. Take advantage of programs that offer bonus rewards points if you forgo housekeeping. And turn off the lights and television when you leave the room. Mom would be proud!
Environmentally Friendly Practices While Eating Around The WorldIf water safety and cleanliness is a concern at your destination, research your options before you go. Bottled water is an environmental disaster, as well as an expensive choice. To make matters worse, it’s not always as safe as it looks. And relying on it is troublesome in the event of store closures. As an alternative, there are many extremely efficient water treatment devices that are built into water bottles for the ultimate convenience. Meanwhile, the time-honored method of heating water to a roaring boil and letting it cool in the fridge overnight is an easy, economical option for apartment guests. Decline unnecessary, single-use plastic at restaurants. Be proactive about refusing straws. Tell cafe staff that you want to eat on real dishes. If nothing else, it’s a good chance to practice your language skills! Other plastic offenders to look out for? The bag that your (likely plastic) container of leftovers is put in, takeaway plastic cutlery (wrapped in its own plastic pouch) and all the little plastic containers for condiments. Keep your reusable market bag on hand, invest in a “spork”, and speak up before staff begins decanting every imaginable sauce into its own tiny plastic dish.
Leave Nothing But Footprints: Sustainable Exploring and Green TravelThe most environmentally friendly choice – to walk – is also the most travel-friendly. It costs nothing at all, it keeps you in shape and helps to beat jet lag. And it’s the perfect way to discover the world. As a backup plan, make note of public transit options in your area. Buses and subways are an inexpensive, easy way to explore further afield. For long-distance trips, consider alternatives to flying, including buses, trains, and carpooling. They all offer a lower carbon footprint, arguably a more enjoyable experience, and they may even be just as time efficient. Only take what you need. A handy map and helpful coupon booklet are fine. But you don’t need a museum guide or promotional tourism magazine for every member of your family. When hiking and exploring nature, stay on the main trail to avoid damaging delicate plants or disturbing animal habitat. And consider organizing all your hikes to take place in a national park, where there are excellent resources on hand and you’re supporting a committed team of environmentalists. It’s an easy step to ensure your travel memories are all the more wonderful.