6 Sustainable Travel Tips Every Traveller Should Know

Last week’s article explored three convenient ways to easily and sustainably pursue new local adventures. Keeping with our theme of the path to zero waste we want to give you 6 sustainable travel tips that will keep your mind, and journey, clean, pure, and impact-free.

Last week’s article explored three convenient ways to easily and sustainably pursue new local adventures. Keeping with our theme of the path to zero waste we want to give you 6 sustainable travel tips that will keep your mind, and journey, clean, pure, and impact-free.

Unsurprisingly, bringing an impact-conscious mentality on your long-haul journeys is not too different, in practice, from what you might do back home — though the distance does come with its fair share of unique challenges.

Here are our 6 tips to help you overcome those difficulties and discover a whole new world of sustainable travel like never before:

1. Use The Three “R”sReduce, Reuse, Recycle, Even When Abroad

You may be tempted on vacation, for example, to choose easier options like packing single-use toiletries, drinking from disposable plastics, or racking up a large debt of plastic bags while shopping.

But approaching such decisions (and planning for them!) with the mindset of “reduce, reuse, recycle” will reveal choices that might have seemed invisible at first. And your adventure will only gain from it, we promise!

2. Avoid Single Use Plastic Water Bottles and Try Hydrating the Local Way

Being introduced to a foreign scorching hot climate from the sweet cool embrace of the train station’s air conditioning can send even the most well meaning of travellers running for a bottle of water.

As bad as it may feel in the moment, a single look at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch should be enough to put your plight into perspective. The damage to our environment is simply not worth the short term relief, especially when there are so many other amazing ways of staying hydrated.

Be a part of the solution by indulging in awesome local delicacies, while in the tropics green coconuts are a great source of water and are sure to take your trip to the next level.

Not in the tropics? Not a problem. Rather than using disposable water bottles, a great sustainable choice is to opt for a reusable bottle, and if that’s not an option then reaching for the closest canned water is an infinitely recyclable option that won’t harm the environment.

3. Consider The Impact Of Comfort On Your Adventure And The Environment

“Home is where the heart is” is a common saying, but we all know being away from your house definitely increases the temptation to take shortcuts and make wasteful decisions in the hopes of finding some level of comfort. It just seems so darn convenient! This includes every choice we make while travelling, straight from the start, including how we get there.

We could all use a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. After all, isn’t that why we travel in the first place? So why is it then that we choose to take the fastest, busiest, and most impactful method of travel — airplanes — when the scenic route is much more fun (and often cheaper)?

4. Take The Scenic Route, And No It’s Not Found In A Cramped Airplane

Slower and calmer than their sky-bound counterparts, trains offer the chance to ease into your travel adventure by placing you in the present and forcing you to enjoy the moment. National Geographic even recognizes train travel as part of “the emerging ‘slow travel’ trend by going to fewer places and spending more time in each.”

That means that you can really take the time to live in the present and afford each location the depth of time that our amazing world demands. It seems that trains are both good for living a balanced lifestyle and helping to reduce our carbon footprint by using less fuel relative to the amount of people they transport.

5. Be Ethical When Choosing Tours and Activities

Don’t forget to apply the Scenic Route principle to all aspects of your travels, including the tours you choose. Though most of your trips may be spent wandering and planning your own route through your country of choice, almost all trips come to the point where one decides to take a tour.

Guided tours through important established cultural icons like museums are one thing, but wildlife or scenic tours do not benefit from the same protections that museums have. This is why it is so important that we take a proactive mindset and research activities that we choose to endorse with our patronage.

Negligence is not an excuse and enabling unsustainable business practices is just as bad as participating in the guilty action yourself. As travellers we have a duty to question our tour guides to determine how they treat the environment around them and, beyond that, how they and their company ensure that their little piece of nature will be there for future generations to tour and experience.

It may seem like a lot, but in the end all it requires is a simple phone call to a business that is already designed and exists to answer your questions. Make the right choice, tour operators in today’s day and age are aware of the environment and our impact on it, companies who claim ignorance on their impact most likely aren’t practicing the most sustainable methods.

6. Buy Locally, And Don’t Touch The Wild Life

When you find yourself in foreign lands, one great way to enrich the communities you visit is to support local merchants, farmers, and craftspeople. Purchasing sustainably produced local goods, whether souvenir crafts like trinkets and accessories or functional items like clothes, is one way to ensure those communities can continue to thrive for years to come.

Even your daily meals can support the locals and promote sustainability as long you take a moment to learn about the ways they are produced and choose to avoid disposable packaging and cutlery. More often to not the local “mom and pop” restaurants will also offer you a rare window into authentic cultural practices and home cooked food that simply can’t be found in unsustainable tourist traps. A sure treat!

Another way to make a positive impact is to avoid supporting destructive tourist industries that rely on harmful wildlife products. Unless you can be sure that they are sustainably produced, you’re probably better off avoiding souvenirs made from animals (think shells, furs, etc.) or other wildlife materials.

While it may be cool to bring back a little piece of the local flora or fauna from your adventure, it isn’t worth the harm done to the natural order of the area. The more people who commit to avoiding doing that damage, the more likely it is that those industries will be forced to change to more impact-conscious methods. And that’s a win for all involved!

Find A Balance That Makes Sustainable Travel Easy

The path towards a sustainable lifestyle and a zero waste world is not about perfection. It’s about making small consistent choices. That means approaching decisions with an impact-conscious mindset both at home and abroad.

Every choice, big or small, has some sort of impact on our world. Each of us should aspire to find more ways to minimize our impact and we might just find that this doesn’t require us to sacrifice the small pleasures in life.

For us, sustainability and balance are two deeply connected ideas. On the one hand, sustainability is about making choices that we know will allow us to have a world for tomorrow. On the other, balance in the actions we take towards a sustainable lifestyle is essential to make sure the actual efforts we take are sustainable themselves and we won’t suffer from burnout.

What’s the use of being hyper sustainable for a few weeks if you burn out and give up completely after? Slow and steady wins the race.

And that’s all there really is to it! With the right mindset, any adventure abroad can be as unforgettable as it is sustainable. And with each impact-conscious choice each of us makes, we come one step closer on the path to zero waste, one step closer on this journey.

Cycle Water

July 17, 2019