This is a guest post from Harper Reid. She is a freelance writer from New Zealand who is a huge supporter of sustainable living and travel. She believes that everybody can do something to save the environment, one simple step at a time. Visit Harper’s Tumblr page to see more of her published work.
The decisions you make on your travels – including accommodation, food, transport, and more – have a direct impact on the destination that you visit. How you choose to spend your money, the tours you choose to travel with and the destinations you choose to visit all hold more weight than you might think.
The most enriching travel experiences are those that make a positive difference to the natural environment, the economy and local communities. When you use travel as an opportunity to learn and do good, you will come back with a new perspective and a greater appreciation for the world around you. When planning your next vacation, consider these travel tips to make your trip more meaningful.
Get involved with good causes
If you’re heading on a longer trip abroad, volunteering is a great way to connect with the community you’re visiting and to make a real positive impact on your travels. Before you leave, research the local wildlife organizations in your country of destination.
Even if you aren’t able to become a volunteer, you may still be able to arrange a meeting or site visit to share knowledge and discuss issues. This is a great opportunity to learn about the different ways how other countries are approaching threats to the environment.
Be environmentally conscious
Tourists often contribute to a heavy amount of waste and pollution. But that doesn’t mean your travel experience has to be this way. There are many little things you can do on your travels to minimize your environmental impact. It’s your responsibility to be conscious of the type of products you pack, use and throw away.
Avoiding the use of plastic is obviously essential. During your trip, try to use reusable items as much as you can, such as reusable water bottles, shopping bags, and reusable coffee mugs. When looking for a place to stay, make sure the hotels have a sustainable program.
The creation and success of eco-friendly accommodation has played an important role in protecting the environment. You can play your part by supporting local businesses with proven environmentally-friendly values whenever you can.
Support the local economy
As a tourist, you can make a positive impact on the communities you visit by supporting the local economy. Supporting locally owned businesses helps to create employment opportunities for the people that live there and improve the well-being of the local communities. When choosing a tour, look for a local company that has good values and follows responsible initiatives.
By supporting local tours, you are helping to fund these businesses and are contributing to the greater good of the community. The same rule applies when choosing accommodation – instead of opting for the flashiest hotel chains, make it a point to stay at smaller, locally-owned hotels.
See wildlife responsibly
If you are interested in seeing local wildlife on your holiday, it’s essential that you go with responsible tour operators that protect wildlife as well as enjoying it. Responsible wildlife holidays will have rules and regulations in place for viewing animals, using expert guides to educate tourists about animal behavior and the issues surrounding their conservation.
Many of these companies also donate a portion of the price they charge towards supporting local research efforts local wildlife charities. After attending a responsible wildlife trip, you will likely leave with a deeper respect for the local wildlife and a greater appreciation for the natural environment.
Visit national parks
National parks play an important role in the protection of endangered species, indigenous plants and the natural environment. By visiting national parks, you will help fund preservation projects, boost the economic value of the local community, and receive a great all-around learning experience. Most national parks offer tours with expert guides who will teach you all about the park’s conservation efforts, history and natural beauty.
Can you think of any other ways to help the world through travel?