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Travel is both valuable to those who wish to quench their wanderlust and those who depend on tourists to make their living. The current pandemic has been devastating for countries like Greece, Cyprus, Fiji and others who are dependent on the travel economy. Many parts of this beautiful world are sustained by travelers who visit during travel season and off-season.
So, if you want to use your adventures to help towns that rely on the tourism sector, consider how else you may help them. This is your chance to learn how to be a more conscientious traveler and adopt more environmentally friendly travel habits. After each trip, you will become a more mindful traveler and, as a result, a better person.
Travel During Off-Season
Traveling during the off-season is the first step toward adopting sustainable and conscious travel practices. For starters, you’ll contribute back to the community during the months when it’s not as busy with tourists. These folks need to support themselves at this time, so go during the off-season if you can.
Second, because you will not be overwhelmed by enormous crowds of tourists, your stay will be more enjoyable. In the end, you won’t put too much strain on the infrastructure during peak months and will instead help small businesses throughout the offseason.
Travel to Smaller Cities Instead Tourist Hot Spots
If you truly want to explore and discover something new, go to a smaller location. Smaller towns, less crowded tourist locations and locations that are off-the-beaten-path can truly satisfy your wanderlust. Besides, you’ll still get a chance to support a local community by visiting, even though it’s not packed with skyscrapers and busy resorts. You can easily find alternatives to popular tourist locations and book an AirBnB or a family-owned hotel for your stay.
If You Can, Choose an Eco-Friendly Travel Option
For a truly conscious travel experience, seek out alternative ways to travel. Whenever you can, take the train. This is a great option if you’re on your trip around Europe. You can also travel by bus as an eco-friendly travel option.
The ultimate goal is to stay as far away from flying as possible. But, if you can’t, use alternative travel options whenever you can. It still counts.
Avoid Animal-Related Activities
Sadly, there are many unethical animal-related activities at the most popular tourist locations. By now, you’ve probably heard that taking selfies with wild animals is considered an unethical animal-related activity. The action itself is harmful, but as long as there is demand for such an activity, the animals will be treated badly.
So, you can tip the scales toward the better treatment of animals by deciding not to ride elephants, take selfies with lion cubs or watch orca shows. Instead, research animal shelters nearby your tourist location and visit them. Show your support to only animal shelters that are run ethically and animals are well-fed and treated the right way.
Travel with a Bigger Purpose in Mind
Traveling isn’t just about taking beautiful pictures at picturesque locations. You can and should have a bigger purpose in mind. We’re talking about using travel to volunteer and give back to the community you plan on visiting. If you’re ready to see new parts of the world, while making it a conscious experience, seek volunteer abroad programs you can join.
You’d be amazed at the number of opportunities available to those who are willing to volunteer. From teaching at Fiji islands to helping community development in India, there’s an opportunity for every conscious traveler.
Explore Your Destination by Bike
You can easily find your way around a new city on a bike if you want to be a conscious tourist. You’ll reduce your footprint by pedaling around a new destination. You can rely on Google maps for directions to avoid getting lost.
If you need help in bridging the distance you need to cross, you can take your bike on a train. If there’s no way for you to get to your destination by bike, don’t feel bad about using other forms of transportation. Otherwise, try to bike as much as possible and walk as it is less harmful to the environment.
Buy From Small Businesses
Whenever you’re traveling, have in mind that shopping locally, or eating locally can support an entire family. This is especially true if you’re visiting a city or country that relies heavily on tourism for its economic survival. Even when you’re trying to be smart with your budget, avoid supermarkets.
Shop from a local small shop or a market instead. If you’re looking for souvenirs, give an advantage to unique handmade souvenirs. These people use their skills to make art and you’ll always distinguish this tiny piece of art from any other commercial object sold at commercial chains.
Engage with Locals
For the ultimate travel experience, engage with locals whenever you get a chance. Try to learn some common phrases in their language to show how friendly and curious you are about their culture. Learn how to greet people and say thank you to turn your stay into a truly immersive experience.
You’ll be more present and appreciate the opportunity to broaden your horizons and interact with people from different cultures. If you ask a local for a recommendation, you can quickly discover a local restaurant that you can patronize. They’ll also advise you which locals can arrange fantastic day trips to adjacent islands or major tourist attractions.
This way your stay will be more sustainable to the local community, while your stay will be filled with interesting encounters.
Be Mindful with Your Lodging Choice
If you can, avoid staying at popular hotel chains. Rather, go for local hotels, local accommodation and rentals from local people. By being conscious of your housing selections, you may ensure that your money supports the local community and economy rather than commercial chains.
If you choose to stay at a smaller hotel, the odds are that it is run by a family and that all members of the family work there. You might even form a bond with a local family and come back for a second visit. Even if it’s not a family business, it’s still operated by locals, so you’ll be helping a lot of people.
Supporting all things local is the ultimate goal of a sustainable and responsible travel experience. Also, try to reduce your trash by using a glass bottle, avoiding plastic straws, and following other environmentally friendly travel measures.
Nina is a lifestyle blogger, yoga aficionado and a travel enthusiast with a distinctive taste for home decor. She's passionate about learning new things and sharing meaningful ideas. In her free time, she loves to design clothes and furniture.