Ecotourism; How To Be A Better Traveler

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*AirBnb’s are a great option for traveling and can help to reduce your ecological impact. For a discount off your first stay click HERE for a referral code

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I started this mini-series with the intent to educate myself and others on how to be better travelers. My first two posts were about eco-friendly travel products and transportation. This post will focus on being a better ecotourist.

As a refresher, what exactly is ecotourism? As per ecotourism.org, it is responsible travel that includes protecting the environment, the local people’s socio-economic well-being, and a greater understanding and appreciation for a community and its environment. Ecotourism starts when you start planning a trip to the time you return home and start implementing the strategies in your local communities. Ecotourism is not for just when we are abroad, but when we are at home as well. If we feed into over-tourism, we will start to see the destruction of the environment and its peoples, making it nonexistent for future generations.

I am definitely not a perfect eco-friendly traveler, but I am learning and adjusting. Do not feel bad if you mess up once in a while. It is natural not to be perfect. If you are educating yourself and trying what you learn, you are on the right track!

Shop at local markets with local artists

One of the problems with popular tourist destinations is that there is often a vast amount of souvenir shops. These places will try to sell you cheap knickknacks that say, “Hey, look at where I have been, and this is what I have to show for it!”. Even though most of their product is made from third-world countries using low-quality materials and exploiting their workforce. When you source out local stores and markets, you get local artists that make quality products. The benefit of going this route is that you are positively supporting local economies. Some examples of this could be ethically made wool products from Scotland, coffee beans from a small-batch coffee roaster, a small statue from a roadside woodcarver, or really anything from the local area you are traveling to. When I think of souvenirs, I think of things with practical use. One of my favorite local markets I have ever been to was the Eumundi Market in Australia’s Sunshine Coast!

Pick up your trash

This one is easy; do not be a litterbug. One big problem with tourist destinations is the amount of litter left behind by tourists. This can be quite disastrous on the natural land formations. Once beautiful landmarks are being taken over by mounds of trash, choking out waterways, polluting beaches, creating dangerous hiking conditions, and interfering with natural ecological species. Many local populations are drowning in litter and are struggling with how to manage it. The best ways to support an area, especially with areas experiencing over-tourism, is to dispose of your trash appropriately, recycle when possible, use eco-friendly products like a reusable water bottle, skip straws, and choose eco-friendly travel companies.

Turn off your lights

Turning off your lights and lowering heating/cooling temperatures can help to reduce your carbon footprint. I do not think there is any further explanation needed for this. Just remember you do not need your television on all day.

Avoid animal entertainment attractions

Animal entertainment attractions are those attractions that exploit animals for the sole purpose of human entertainment. Things to avoid are riding on the backs of elephants, petting tiger cubs, and petting dolphins. Watch for companies who claim they are ‘sanctuaries’ because they can also have poor conditions for their animals and still exploit them. I am not saying that there aren’t reputable companies out there, but just be very wary and do your research. Try to support companies who are aiding animals and try to get experiences where you are not disrupting an animal. I have attached a couple of articles below on how to find ethical animal attractions

How To Choose Ethical Animal Attractions Abroad

Ethical Animal Tourism

Choose sustainable tour companies

I understand that not everyone likes organizing trips independently and would much prefer to have all of their trip organized for them. That is where tour companies come into play; they can make your whole trip a breeze. When booking with these companies, most people do not think of the impact that their tour company is making. Are they giving you authentic local experiences that are ethical? What are they doing to offset their carbon footprint? Are they trying to book you sustainable accommodations? Next tie you are booking through a tour company try to do some research on the type of company they are. I have attached five options for you to consider!

Responsible Travel

And Beyond

Intrepid Travel

Small World Journeys

Steppes Travel

Pre-download digital maps and tickets

Next time you are out traveling, try to have all your maps pre-downloaded and tickets on your mobile phones. Most often, people have their phones in their hands 24/7. Whether you are taking pictures, texting, or updating your social media. So why not keep all of your travel information on your phone as well? This helps to offset the amount of paper you need to carry and then dispose of at the end of your trip. Most companies have apps readily available for use. If you are worried about not being able to connect to the internet, try to prebook or preplan your trip and then take a screenshot of your ticket or map and have it in your photo gallery!

Buy eco-friendly travel products

My first post on this mini-series was about buying more eco-friendly travel products. If you want to learn more, check it out here

Reuse your towels and sheets

When you are staying at a hotel, try reusing sheets and towels for the duration of your stay. Hotels now have more initiatives to let housekeeping know if you do not want them to switch out your towels/sheets. They usually leave signs out that let you know what to do. If they do not have this option, you can always put the do not disturb sign out, and housekeeping will not come in. This helps to cut down on the amount of water that a hotel consumes from washing towels and sheets every single day

*AirBnb’s are a great option for traveling and can help to reduce your ecological impact. For a discount off your first stay click HERE for a referral code

Try local foods

Another way to support a local economy is to try local foods and restaurants. Those small mom and pop shops that use sources ingredients locally and employ local employees. You will often find some of the best food in places like this and try something that a local would eat. Do some research on what kind of produce grows in the area and try to buy from farmers. Farmer markets are an excellent option for this

Utilize public transportation

My latest blog post was on transportation so check that out here!

Volunteer

Volunteering can be a great option to help give back to a community, and you are often gifted with the gift of viewing a place like a local with local views and food. I think everyone should try to make a volunteer trip at least once in their lives. Some of the things I have gotten to help with is fixing up houses in the Dominican, bringing supplies to a rural orphanage in India, and worked with children by having fun and playing with them. It is truly a fantastic experience when you get accepted into a culture, make friends from all over the world, and get a new perspective on the world. I found this great article to help you decide which program would be best for you; find it here

I hope that you have enjoyed this series

Let me know how you plan on being a more sustainable and green ecotourist!

8 thoughts on “Ecotourism; How To Be A Better Traveler

  1. This was just my start on this series, and it’s already quite useful! Do you find yourself packing less on trips as well? It seems like nowadays I always try to pack as little as possible, and that bringing too much is a waste of fuel and space.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Until I started doing this series, that was one of the things I never really thought about. I have definitely over packed when I first started doing international trips but one of the things I started doing before without thinking about it was packing one suit case between two people. Especially for smaller trips. It saves a bunch of money and creates less weight. So I am definitely trying to get better now!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This is great information about ecotourism. It’s so important to be a conscious traveler and to leave a place better than how you found it. In addition to blogging about wine, I own a wine tour company. We’ve always strive to be environmentally responsible but this gave me some even better ideas. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so awesome to hear! Thank you for trying to make your business more environmentally responsible! What is the name of your company if you do not mind sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

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