Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to travel freely. Those with limited financial means may be unable to spend the cash needed to jet off to far flung destinations and at a whim, while people of certain nationalities are not permitted to travel to some countries on their passports.
People in the Western world who have the money and the freedom to go wherever they want in the world should count their blessings that they are able to do so. In return, travel should come with a certain level of responsibility. It’s important that holidaymakers are aware of the impact their actions are having on the environment and on other cultures. Commercial flights cause a great deal of pollution, while increased tourism in small rural communities can lead to the destruction of natural areas and decreased quality of life for the local residents.
This is not to say that you should not see the world. After all, travel is one of the most valuable experiences life has to offer. It teaches you about other countries and cultures, and opens up your eyes to new ways of living. But you do need to be careful about the way in which you travel, in order to protect the planet for future generations. To help you accomplish this, here are four ways to be a more ethical traveler.
Support local communities
Although tourism can be an economic boost for many economies, there can be too much of a good thing. Overtourism generally leads to increased development and an eradication of traditional culture. The local residents and businesses inevitably suffer as a result. Make an effort to support local communities in your destination. Shop from local, independent stores rather than big chain supermarkets, and spend some money in the local markets and boutiques.
Use cleaner modes of transport
The biggest environmental impact of the tourism industry is planes. Aviation is one of the major contributors to carbon dioxide emissions, and by choosing flight as your preferred mode of travel, you are hindering the fight against global warming. Although they may be slower and less convenient, try to choose cleaner modes of transport such as trains and buses to get to your destination. This may mean you have to travel closer to home, but there are just as many wonders on your doorstep as halfway around the planet.
Choose ethical travel companies
If using a travel company to book your trip, do some research into their environmental practices. Some companies make an effort to offset their carbon emissions, donate to charitable causes, or support local communities. You could even book a trip with a company that specializes in humanitarian travel, helping out people in need as part of your adventure.
Avoid single use plastic
If traveling to a hot country, you are probably going to end up drinking a lot of water. But buying plastic bottles from the supermarket everytime you feel thirsty is going to have a detrimental impact on the environment. Make an effort to avoid single use plastic by bringing your own water bottle and refilling it when you need to. In countries where the tap water is not potable, use sterilization tablets or a bottle with a purifying system.