Balancing beauty and sustainability in tourism (Photo Credit: Social Media)
Sustainable tourism refers to travel that preserves the environment, respects local culture, and promotes economic development in the local community. Though it may seem like you’re sacrificing fun when you travel sustainably, there are plenty of ways to have fun and be respectful and responsible at the same time. Whether you are visiting a black sand beach or simply going on an exciting Euro-trip, this guide will teach you how to balance beauty and sustainability while being a tourist.
Research what it means for each location you visit
The first step is research. For each location you plan on visiting, research what it means for that place. Find out how they want you to act and whether it’s okay to dump your garbage in local dumps, or whether it’s better for you to bring all your waste back home with you. Some locations are stricter than others, so figure out ahead of time what measures you need to take. And make sure that your trash ends up where it’s supposed to. It’s an easy way for tourists or visitors from far away places (often called wasters) who don't respect other countries' environmental norms can really harm their environment – like moving invasive species around accidentally.
Find What's in Your Budget
Before you travel, it's important to know how much money you're able to spend. While many people assume that once they get there, they'll have plenty of time to figure out where they'll stay or what they'll eat, few things actually work out so easily. Make sure you have money set aside for at least one night in a hotel if possible (if not, then make sure you save some money), as well as meals and transportation costs. This ensures that even if your accommodation options are limited or your plans change, you still won't be scrambling for cash. Being aware of your budget also ensures you don’t make rash decisions that are not very sustainable. If you have a bigger budget you can also choose an accommodation that is environmentally friendly.
If you’re travelling by plane, car, or train, you’re bound to create some carbon emissions. You can offset those emissions by making your trip more efficient. For example, flying is one of the most carbon-intensive ways to travel but if you keep your flight under 3 hours then you can earn credits for choosing an eco-friendly hotel later on in your trip. Or, look into carpooling with friends or purchasing carbon offsets after your trip to help counterbalance any high-emissions parts of your journey.
The most sustainable way to travel is to visit places that are close by, but there’s no sense in travelling cross-country if you only have a few days off. The best thing you can do is plan your trip weeks in advance, so you can take advantage of cheap flights or even drive with friends. If you’re planning on renting cars and flying internationally, make sure you shop around for deals; some credit cards offer substantial travel miles for new customers, which could save hundreds on plane tickets. Although travelling does generate emissions (how much will depend on how far away your destination is), it still might not be worse than staying home or driving somewhere nearby.
Don't Shop, Resell, Trade, or Freecycle Clothing
One of the biggest environmental issues affecting tourism centres on garbage and litter especially around clothing. If you visit a town, respect it enough to obey its rules. If there are no garbage cans near where you’re visiting, don’t just leave your trash in an open area. Respect your host country by packing out whatever you bring in — including water bottles, cans, food scraps, cigarette butts (please smoke responsibly), plastic bags, and more.
Respect Local Rules
One of the most important things any traveller can do is respect local rules. The country or area you’re visiting might have specific laws that are different from your home country, so it’s essential to research before you go. Laws that seem silly in your hometown could have a very real impact on you while travelling. And laws that seem strange may not apply at all if you’re visiting as a tourist, rather than an immigrant, or migrant worker (even though immigration status varies widely around the world). In many cases, respecting local customs can also make for a better trip.