Let’s talk about Sustainable Travel. Do you consider what ingredients are in your sunscreen before taking a dip in the ocean? When swimming harmful chemicals can seep from your cream and damage marine ecosystems. Even if you don’t swim after applying sunscreen, it can still wash down the drain when you take a shower. Coral reefs worldwide are threatened by pollution as they absorb these toxic chemical. Each year, around 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in our oceans. As humans we may be responsible for this contamination, but we’re also capable of helping heal these fragile worlds beneath the waves. So, before taking your next vacation please research biodegradable products that will protect both you and our beautiful oceans!
Unfortunately many travellers and industry operators (myself included) are in denial about the huge negative impact that international travel and mass tourism has on local cultures and communities. It is for this very reason why we all need to play our part in finding a way where global exploration can be maintained with minimal impact on the environment.
Sustainable travel aims to protect and value host regions and wildlife. It also considers how tourism affects local business, communities and native cultures in your chosen holiday destination.
When abroad I insist on eating like a local. Spending your hard earned cash on street vendors and in cafes and restaurants run by locals, where food is locally grown and sourced is not only healthier but also the tastiest way to travel! You get to meet people who are passionate about their menu and keen to share trusty local knowledge on the area you are visiting. It’s nothing but a win win situation! These small dining moments have often helped create some of my most memorable travel experiences. I love food, my appetite is huge and knowing that I’m eating in a place that is run by, employs and supports the local economy rather than a flashy all inclusive resort or international establishment makes the food taste even better. Side note: I’ve had my fair share of dodgy dining experiences, which have resulted in severe Deli Belly so be sure to avoid anywhere that is suspiciously quiet or looks unsanitary.
The same goes for taking local transport, shopping in local supermarkets (buying gifts made by local artisans, unique to the country you are visiting, rather than mass produced goods) and staying in locally owned accommodation. Airbnb is perfect for finding the dream eco friendly escape!
Do you use a clean towel at your chosen hotel every single day whilst you are away? Washing bath towels and bed linen daily is common in large resorts and wastes a terrifying amount of energy and water. You wouldn’t dream of washing your bed sheets on a daily basis at home and the same should apply when you are on holiday.
Reducing packaging and plastic waste when on the road is incredibly important. Often the tropical countries we visit on vacation do not have the means to recycle and waste is dumped in landfills and the ocean. If you don’t already, carry your own reusable items, such as a water bottle. Return maps and brochures once you have finished with them so they can be used again. Tiny little steps play a huge part in tourism and it’s vital we all stand up and ensure we are doing our very best to reduce our impact when abroad.
Avoid wildlife tours that offer close encounters with animals, as these companies are often unethical. If you are allowed to touch, cuddle or ride the animals, this is a bad sign! Choose a tour where you can view wildlife in their natural habitat, from a safe distance.
Travel closer to home - Explore the Motherland. Just because we can and often do travel to far away places, doesn’t necessarily mean we have too! On our very doorstep we have a world of opportunity and adventure to explore.
I am a master of light packing which plays a key role in responsible tourism; a plane’s fuel consumption is greater if the weight it carries is heavier. I can reduce my luggage to the size of a carry on for a 2 week trip, no problem! Basically half what you initially plan to take, you will never wear it all - I can guarantee it. I’ll share some tips for travelling light during the next few days, you will be amazed at how little you really need!
Sustainable travel should be the only way we travel. There is no magical solution to solving the problems I have briefly touched on, however if we each individually make simple and informed choices, together we really will make the world of difference to the environment, native communities and future generations to come.