If you’re reading this, chances are you love travel and discovery every bit as much as we do. After all, is there anything better than exploring and seeking new corners of the world, learning about new cultures, experiencing different ways of life and ultimately being a bad ass world wanderer? Probably not.
But hey, let’s not forget that travel is a privilege, and with that privilege comes a certain level of responsibility. We want to protect the places we visit and the memories we treasure for decades and centuries to come so our kids and grandkids can experience the world the way we do right now. Sounds daunting, but trust us, it’s not. In fact, chances are (because we’re betting you’re an all round awesome citizen) you’re already killing it for mother nature, but just to be sure, check out these 8 quick things you can do to become a more responsible traveler:
1. Ditch the Plastic: It’s all too easy to buy and ditch plastic water bottles and bags on the go, meaning these un-recyclable nasties end up in a landfill or the ocean. Incredibly, one plastic bottle can take 700 years to decompose, so if you think about how many plastic bottles are sold every day, that’s some crazy numbers. Plastics are also wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems. A staggering 250 million metric tons of plastic could make its way to the ocean in the next 10 years. Be prepared on your travels – carry a reusable bottle and reusable bag with you. The earth will thank you, and so will your bank balance.
2. Turn the Tap Off: A super simple one that involves little more than the flick of a wrist. Your dentist has probably drilled into you that you should clean your teeth for at least 2.5 minutes to maintain your pearly whites. Now consider that if you leave the tap running for 2.5 minutes, that’s over 12.5 litres of clean water going straight down the drain! Do your bit for the water gods, turn that tap off!
3. Eat Local, Shop Local: Because really, who wants to travel to the other side of the world to eat McDonalds? Get in touch with the country you’re exploring by eating and drinking local brands and actively hunting out locally owned restaurants and bars. Not only will the food blow your mind, you’ll also get to rub shoulders with the locals and find out their top tips on where to head next! When it comes to shopping, everyone dreams of a house filled with treasures they’ve collected from their travels. After all interesting ornaments, ornate wall hangings and questionable fertility vases are the conversation starters for any great dinner party! Keep traditions alive when you travel by buying from local artisans who use traditional methods for their craft. You’ll be rewarded with some absolute one of a kind pieces AND you’ll be supporting the local economy. But remember to stay away from products that exploit threatened ocean wildlife, such as coral jewelry and nautilus shells.
4. Educate Yo’self: Hate being branded a tourist and don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb? Get your head in a book before you leave! Wise up on the countries your visiting by learning a little about their language, religion, culture, history and any local rules that you’ll need to be aware of. It also doesn’t hurt to brush up on a few key phrases of the local language – showing you’ve made the effort goes a long way with the local crowd. Guide books like Lonely Planet or Rough Guides are packed full of this kind of info.
5. Reduce That Carbon Footprint: Until super intelligent scientists figure out how to make humans fly, we’re pretty much stuck with plane travel. So what can we do to minimise the effects? Much of a plane’s carbon emissions occur during take off and landing, so where possible try to book direct flights to the country you’re visiting. On the ground, try wherever possible to car pool, take public transport or better yet, travel by coach. One full coach means 16 fewer cars on the road which can only mean one thing – less of those nasty carbon emissions.
6. Tread Lightly: Whilst touching a centuries old structure might seem like the ultimate Instagram opportunity, try to resist the urge. Sticking to designated trails and leaving nature, marine life and structures untouched is imperative to preserving the natural beauty of a place. Tread lightly in every sense of the word and remember, take only pictures and leave only footprints. That tiny bit of coral doesn’t belong in your bathroom, it belongs to the reef!