As someone who loves to travel and see different countries,
I have learned a lot about the importance of sustainable tourism over the years.
If we want to be able to visit beautiful destinations in the future and have them around for future generations, it is our responsibility to take part in more sustainable travel practices.
Check out the list below to read more about why sustainable tourism matters and simple ways you can travel more sustainably!
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What is Sustainable Tourism?
To travel sustainably means to focus on experiencing the local culture and community without disrupting it. This means living like a local; eating where locals eat, using the same mode of transportation, and avoiding experiences run by large corporations.
Prior to traveling, plan ahead and research sustainable tourism events and experiences for your destination. Many will be part of the Leave No Trace initiative, or talk about what their protocols are that make them a sustainable business.
Examples of Sustainable Tourism
Staying at a sustainable rental.
ECOBNB find sustainable rentals that meet their strict criteria
Touring with a sustainable company.
For example, Wavelength is an Australian Great Barrier Reef tour company that enforces reef-safe policies like no touching wildlife, smaller group sizes and sunscreen approved for delicate coral.
Leave No Trace
Something everyone should practice no matter where you are but, especially while traveling. Do not litter, minimize plastic waste, and do not harm the natural environment.
What are the Benefits of Sustainable Tourism?
Mass tourism is straining on the local communities, environment and resources. By choosing locally run attractions and experiences, it keeps the local workers employed and provides economic stimulation to their local community. The money you spend directly supports them instead of an internationally run company, which is more invested in profit margin than contributing to the local economy.
It also means that the businesses you’re supporting are in-tune to what is best for the natural resources and wildlife in that area. There is less land destruction, more animal conservation, and local employment growth.
Offsetting Your Carbon Emissions
One of the easiest and most immediate ways to travel sustainably is to find ways to offset your carbon emissions.
What does it mean? When you buy a carbon offset, the money goes to pay for a reduction in greenhouse gases that have already occurred. You’re essentially funding new projects that will reduce carbon emissions and supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation programs.
This can be done by opting in to pay an additional fee with your airline, or by donating to one of many different organizations who support offsetting carbon emissions with specific projects. Cool Effect is an organization that has excellent information on how to do this with their program! You can also calculate carbon emissions for your travel right on their site!
Sustainable Travel Products
An easy way to make travel more sustainable is to bring key re-usable items with you.
Here are some of my favorites!
Bamboo Cutlery Set
I always have this set with me when I travel to avoid using plastic cutlery in airports and restaurants, which we frequently visit while traveling. Plastic cutlery is toxic to manufacture and never breaks down in landfills. This bamboo cutlery set makes it easy to have takeout or your own utensils wherever you are!
It’s 2020 y’all, we don’t use plastic straws anymore.
You’ve probably seen plastic straws phased out in a lot restaurants or only available upon request. But we aren’t fully there yet. So kindly refuse that plastic straw, and whip out your reusable one!
This one even attaches like a keychain to make remembering it super convenient!
Makeup Remover Cloth
No more makeup towelette waste! With just water, this wash cloth removes all makeup and is zero waste! Plus, over time you end up saving money by not having to constantly buy and throw away disposable wipes. A win for the planet and your wallet!
Collapsable Water Bottle
An obvious one, but needs to be mentioned! Don’t buy multiple single-use plastic water bottles on your travels. Bring a reusable water bottle with you instead and fill up at water fountains for free.
A reusable water bottle can be cumbersome if you’re doing a lot of walking and need to pack light. This collapsable water bottle is perfect because it folds up when you’re not using it, saving space and weight!
Switching to a bamboo toothbrush is one of the easiest and affordable eco swaps you can make in general.
Regular plastic toothbrushes take a thousand years to decompose. Yep. They will be on this planet for a thousand years.
A bamboo toothbrush decomposes in anywhere from a few months to a couple years.
Just make the switch!
Reef Safe Sunscreen
This is a huge one that not a lot of people know about. Sunscreen usually contains harmful chemicals, which destroys underwater ecosystems and endangered corals.
Sunscreen that is proven to be reef-safe shouldn’t be just when you travel, but it is especially important to remember if you’re going somewhere tropical!
Make sure you’re doing your part and making sure your sunscreen is reef-safe. Yes, it’s a few bucks more than the cheap stuff. But we all need to do our part. You can live without that Starbucks drink today to make up the difference.
Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
Using bath products like shampoo and conditioner in a bar instead of plastic packaging is lighter for your load, guarantees no spills, and is zero-waste!
Most bars last dozens of showers and save you money in the long run.
Solar Powered Charger
Never worry about running out of charge! There’s less strain on resources and no need to be reliable on finding an outlet. If you’re headed somewhere more remote, this allows more freedom not having to worry about when you’ll be able to charge up your devices.
I just got back from a a trip to Tulum where outlets were surprisingly scarce. Even our hotel room only had a single outlet! I was so glad I had this with me to keep everything charged on my trip.
Have you thought about how travel impacts your favorite places to visit?
Let me know what type of sustainable tourism options are at your favorite destination in a comment below!
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Meet the Writer
Hi, I'm Teresa!
Thank you for taking the time to read my little space on the internet. I’m a digital creator, blogger & environmental advocate.