There shouldn’t need to be an ecotourist label. All travelers should be striving to be a better force in the world they explore. I realize my footprint as a traveler can be larger than those who don’t spend as much jet fuel getting to destinations, so I must work to offset my impact as I continue to increase my knowledge of the global community whilst traveling. As I experience other cultures, I’m also aware of how my lifestyle affects the livelihoods of those in far corners of the world. Happily, there’s plenty I can do to help keep my environmental footprint as small as it can be. Here’s seven things I to do keep the habitat green, preserve local cultures, and promote sustainable travel. It’s my small part in being the change I want to see.
- Walking: Most of the fascinating places I’ve discovered have come through miles and miles of walking. Whenever possible I abandon trains, planes, and automobiles in favor of the strength of my two feet as I walk or bicycle to explore everything from cities to farmlands.
- Water Bottle: Visiting countries where water is a scarce and often unclean commodity, I’ve come to appreciate how easily I’m able to obtain it at home. Also, buying bottled water while on travel, though a “safer” option, has adverse affects when the plastic bottles are discarded. Plastics take forever to biodegrade which is why I make sure to carry my aluminum water bottle with me wherever I travel and fill up at the hotel or restaurants along the way. A SteriPEN for an extra means of water quality treatment never hurts too.
- Local, Local, Local: Supporting locally grown businesses goes a long way towards reducing my overall carbon footprint. I buy local handicrafts as souvenirs, hire local guides, and champion local stores. Besides I get all the best stories from the locals!
- Direct: There’s not too many ways I can cross large oceans in a short amount of time, so it’s necessary for me to travel by air. One of the ways I reduce my carbon footprint is to opt for direct flights when possible, since each landing requires a large amount of fuel.
- Reuse: I try to practice the same good habits on vacation that I practice in my house. So I make sure not to keep the hotel lights on, to reuse the towels they provide, and reduce the waste they have to manage once I’ve left.
- Pack light: Backpacking and hiking experiences have taught me that I need less than I think. The essentials can all fit into one bag I can carry, and now for every travel adventure I try to pack only what I will need.
- Consumption: Less is more when it comes to eating, buying, and general material consumption on travel. New styles, different advertising, and intriguing flavors go a long way towards attracting me to procure everything different, but I remind myself that a little goes a long way.
Have any eco-friendly travel techniques you’d like to share with me?