While we keep hearing about ‘sustainable travel’, we often wonder what it actually entails. Around the world, many people are now more conscious about their burden on the environment and the places they visit, ensuring they take a more greener approach when exploring a new place.
It has become especially important in the pandemic, when many people — who have taken recent trips — have opted for lesser-known, lesser-explored destinations to reduce crowding.
If you are wondering what you can do to become a responsible traveller, digital travel company Booking.com shares seven handy tips for when it is safe to travel again.
1. Choose a sustainable accommodation option
Picking a sustainable place to stay is a great place to start — and it doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money. There are plenty of sustainable options for every budget and taste. In fact, 98 per cent of Indian travellers from their recent research say they want to stay in sustainable accommodation in the upcoming year. One of the easiest ways is to check and see if it has an established eco-label or third-party sustainability certification.
2. Get off the beaten track
The pandemic has influenced 72 per cent of Indian travelers to avoid popular destinations and attractions to ensure they aren’t contributing to overcrowding. Being mindful when choosing your next trip can help reduce overtourism, which can be a major issue for fragile environments, ecosystems and local communities. Consider travelling to lesser-known destinations. Alternatively, travel during the off-season, when there are fewer visitors.
3. Say no to plastic
Limit single-use plastic. With an estimated 91 per cent of plastics not being recycled, most end either in oceans or landfills. Many properties have taken numerous steps to either reduce or eliminate single-use plastics, but travellers can also take simple steps like using reusable water bottles instead of buying plastic bottles or packing their own reusable toiletry bottles from home. An alternative to single-use plastics are steel water bottles which are more durable.
4. Give back to the community
When planning activities for your trip, look for tour companies that empower the local community, and also engage in ethical tourism practices. According to their recent report, respect for the local community is high on the list of Indian travellers with 74 per cent wishing to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture.
5. Pick up one item of rubbish when you leave
Try and leave the places you visit better than when you found them. A simple way to do this is to pick up a discarded item that isn’t yours when you leave. And every action counts — just picking up one piece of plastic on a beach means one less piece ending up in the sea.
6. Buy local
When you travel, one of the best ways to support the local economy and limit your carbon footprint is to shop locally and eat food from street vendors or restaurants that use sustainably sourced produce. Avoid eating at popular fast-food chains that usually import produce from all across the globe. And if you’re cooking for yourself, try to purchase from local markets, too. This is also in line with the Indian traveller sentiment where 74 per cent want to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture.
7. Bring good habits on vacation
Many are already conscious at home about turning the lights off when not in use, or being careful about when and how high we use the air-conditioning. Some 59 per cent of Indian travellers believe it’s harder to make sustainable choices on vacation. A first step could be as simple as remembering to carry mindful habits from home. Travellers can ensure they switch off the lights when they step out of their room, reuse their towels or forego daily linen changes and be more mindful of the length of the showers they take.