Let’s be honest. Making ethical travel choices isn’t always easy.
And it’s often the least sustainable means of travel which come in the cheapest, while companies who champion positive ethical values and responsible travel are slightly more expensive.
Responsible and ethical travel will require you to do your research before you visit a place. It will cost time, money and effort. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and you can often make an individual impact by being willing to make a couple of simple lifestyle changes.
We can’t all live in the mountains and eat only what we have grown in our vegetable patches, however part of our duty as travellers is being aware that our decisions (yes, even on holiday!) have a significant impact on our natural surroundings.
I genuinely believe that we can explore the world and discover new cultures and places, while honouring and respecting the planet. Here are a few of my suggestions for how to travel in a more ethically conscious way.
How to Travel in a More Ethically Conscious Way
Walk and Cycle (Where and When it is Possible)
Walking and cycling are the most environmentally sound travel options. Both will not only keep you healthy and fit, (allowing you to work off your evening meal from the night before) but will also help you to attune and connect to nature and your surroundings.
When you’re ambling through a city and absorbing its architecture and culture, you are more available for conversations and encounters with locals or to stop at a food market and try traditional dishes.
Have an up-to-date map on hand, and get to know the language enough that you can understand street signs or possibly ask for directions if you have to.
Responsible Walking Tips
➡ If you’re traveling with new shoes and know you’ll be doing a lot of walking, make sure you wear them in before the trip. Otherwise you’re likely to come out of it with blisters.
➡ Carry a drink bottle with you to refill throughout the day. You’ll need to stay hydrated if you’re doing a lot of walking, and a drink bottle cuts down on the amount of plastic waste from plastic bottles.
➡ When choosing your hotel, opt for a central location which means you can actually walk everywhere. Ask yourself if that attraction 50 miles away is really all that better than a similar spot that is right around the corner?
The same can be said for cycling. Cycling is SO easy these days!
Most major cities have services where you can rent bikes as you go, or for longer, and cycle lanes help keep you safe as you navigate around. In capital cities like London or Paris, I would even go as far as to say that cycling is quicker than public transport.
Cycling is also brilliant for giving you a sense of space, perspective and a better understanding of the geography of the city. Everything always seems closer than it does on a map!
Why not take a guided bike tour around the city to get your bearings and tick off some sites from your bucket list at the same time?
Photo credit: Roman Boed (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
Responsible Cycling Tips
➡ Familiarize yourself with the road rules of the country you’re visiting. For instance, are you legally required to wear a helmet like in Australia?, must you only ride on the pedestrian footpath?, which way should you look when crossing the road etc.
➡ Travel with a bike chain and lock just in case one is not provided with your rental. Don’t forget the combination; keep it somewhere you can easily find again, like sending yourself a text.
➡ Check with your hotel before you book a bike rental. Some hotels offer free loans for guests.
➡ If you’re interested in taking this one step further and actually cycling around the world, read this post.
Naturally, we can’t always get to our dream destination by foot or bike. If you are serious about reducing your carbon footprint but still want to go somewhere a bit more exotic, I would suggest giving sailing a go!
Of course, sailing is not a totally ‘green’ mode of transport, but it generates significantly less carbon than plane travel.
Just like walking, sailing also gives you the opportunity to be more flexible because you are not bound by restrictive bus or train times. You have the freedom to decide where and when you want to head.
However, I would still suggest that you sail with a purpose and make sensible decisions; that means planning your boat rental in an efficient way, so that you are using the least amount of energy and fuel possible.
For example, during a sailboat charter in Greece, you wouldn’t sail from Mykonos to Milos to Poros to IOS because these four islands are scattered throughout the archipelago, but you would instead choose a logical itinerary.
You can still island hop, while choosing direct routes that save both time and fuel.
Responsible Sailing Tips
➡ Book through reputable sailing companies (the same also goes for flying) which uphold ethical and sustainable values.
Do they treat their workers well? Are they relatively energy efficient? These are questions you should be asking when you’re booking a sailboat charter.
➡ Think about carbon offseting your travel time. This means calculating the amount of carbon your individual journey will create and donating money to remove the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
You could donate to an organisation which plants trees to fight deforestation, for example.
➡ Make sure your travel insurance covers you for sailing activities.
What are your thoughts on sustainable travel? Can travel ever have a positive impact on the local environment and culture? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
PRODUCTS TO REDUCE YOUR IMPACT OVERSEAS: CLICK PHOTO↓
SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓