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Here Are Some Ways on How to Become a Sustainable Traveler

Travelling holds a lot of potential for the traveler. It brings forth new experiences, education, and opportunities for personal growth. For the local communities, it gives them a means of economic gain and cultural exchange through tourism.

However, the development of tourism isn’t always beautiful and rosy. Throughout the years, a lot of rapacious tourism development from the thoughtless actions of individuals caused harm to local economies, cultures, and the environment as a whole. 

As overtourism dominates headlines worldwide, more environments and destinations feel the adverse effects and pressure of high visitor numbers. Although awareness of these issues is rising, what can you do personally to ensure your presence is less felt when you visit a new area? 

Well, below are some tips you could consider to offset your environmental impact and travel sustainably next time you visit a new place.

Select a Destination That Upholds Sustainability

According to the Environmental Performance Index of 2018, several European nations such as France, Denmark, and Switzerland have the top spot globally as the most sustainable nations despite their tourism spikes and rapid economic growth. 

Albania moved a couple of ranks up from 61st in 2016 to 40th in 2018. It made the protection of wild areas such as Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park a priority while being backed by the Global Environment Facility and United Nations Development Programme.

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Namibia was the first African country to include the protection of the environment in its constitution with the help of the World Wildlife Fund. According to Jim Sano, the vice president of travel, tourism, and conservation in WWF, traveling to destinations that value conservation is the most sustainable traveler can help push the cause.

Consider How You Get There

Air quality is among the greatest threats to public health and the environment. When traveling to your destination, consider a means that has the lowest carbon footprint. 

Plane travel is a viable way to reach some of the most incredible destinations and one of the easiest ways to offset your carbon footprint as a traveler. Ideally, you want to pick an eco-friendly airline or a carrier that uses sustainable biofuel for their aviation transport. Also, fly direct if possible.

Another transport method you could consider is the train. According to the International Transport Forum reports, trains generate ten times fewer carbon emissions than airplanes. That number goes up if you use high-speed trains such as the carbon-neutral Eurostar that is thrice more energy-efficient than regional trains.

While both means may not be accessible in all the places you visit, you have three more options — electric, hybrid, or fuel-powered cars with the least consumption needs when using vehicular transport. So avoid hiring that four-by-four SUV with a roof rack basket for extra storage as your primary get-around vehicle. 

You should opt for public transport if possible, that way you can enjoy interactions with the locals.

Support Environmentally Friendly Hotels and Establishments

Try to give preference to businesses that practice sustainability through recycling, sourcing raw materials locally, and promoting environmentally friendly growth. From the World Tourism Organization, for every $100 spent during a trip, only $5 benefits the destination. This means that travel barely supports local economies.

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Steps are being taken to ensure the tourism dollars go directly to the communities and not conglomerate businesses. Travel companies are now offering environmentally-conscious activities such as low-impact hiking and biking itineraries which provide the perfect balance of immersion and exploration of the area. 

Think about it, bikes allow you to reach the remote villages and countrysides of the local people, and best of all, they have zero environmental impact.

Minimize Food and Plastic Waste

According to a study by Science Advances done in 2017, only 9 % of plastic is recycled compared to the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic that have been produced in the last sixty years. If this trend continues, the number will reach 12 billion by 2050. 

In African countries such as Ethiopia and South Africa, there is a ban or a tack for plastic bags. At the same time, Kenya has made it illegal to manufacture, sell or use them in their entirety.

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Each year, more travelers mean the adverse environmental effects of traveler-related waste are going up, especially around fragile and remote environments. To reduce your plastic waste footprint, you should consider using responsible travel products, ranging from collapsible Tupperware to biodegradable shampoo bars that help lower your environmental footprint.

For instance, instead of buying water packaged in a plastic bottle, try and carry a refillable bottle, decide not to use straws with your cold beverages, and carry a fabric tote bag instead of a plastic bag. 

Limit Your Energy Use and Conserve Water

We all love those long and steamy showers. After all, they are the perfect way to relax and unwind after a long day of travel, but their harmful effects on the environment are oblivious to us. 

Close to two billion people globally don’t have access to clean running water. Simply, turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, reusing your towels, and taking shorter showers is more than just common sense; it’s a moral imperative you have as a traveler to ensure sustainability.

Don’t Disturb the Natural Environment

Appreciate the natural resources of the places you visit and the culture you find there, but don’t try to take it. Some governments have a stringent system regulating the cultural artifacts and bits of nature visitors can take out of the country. Respect these rules at all costs.


Hopefully, these pointers enlighten your travels as you go out and explore the world. Traveling sustainably isn’t a movement of respectable travelers whose travel experience consists of caring for the planet and its people as they make their way around it. 

It’s more about spreading awareness about environmental conservation and travel decisions that protect the local environment, economy, and culture. After all, environmental conservation is a full-time job tasked to each one of us.

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