Beachmeter
Homestay experience in Malaysia with tourists eating local Malaysian cuisine with their local homestay hosts. Homestay accommodation is one of many simple tips for sustainable travel.

Have you ever wondered what you can do to travel like a sustainability champion?

Some people mistakingly think that the very act of traveling is incompatible with sustainability because of the carbon footprint from transportation. But sustainability is not some kind of polarized either / or action. There are a great many things you can do (and not do) in order to make your travel more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. Most of them are rather simple, even common sense.

Here is an overview of things you can easily incorporate in your travels. By following these tips you will both limit the negative impacts of traveling and award yourself a more meaningful travel experience.

Practical Tips for Sustainable Travel

Photo of Routeburn Flats, on the Routeburn Track in New Zealand.
Image credits: unuk

These simple sustainability tips apply to all kinds of travels whether it be a city break, a 6-months backpacking trip, or a beach holiday.

Common sense should not be left at home

In various forms, travel can be a relief from all the worries and responsibilities at home. Sometimes, tourists take their traveling freedom a bit too far though. Just like at home, there are rules and cultural norms to respect, and there are natural environments to consider. Why would that be any different a thousand miles from home?

It is not uncommon for hotel guests to leave the air-condition on for hours while they are exploring the area. In this way they don’t have to endure the 2 minutes of slightly too warm or too cold a room. Would you do that at home? Hopefully not.

Would you point your camera in a strangers face and snap away without seeking acceptance first? This is as intrusive in other countries as our own. Instead ask politely, strike up a conversation, and you will find that most people will gladly award you with their picture. These are common sense behaviours, but still some travelers seem to leave their brain at home when they travel.

Eat, stay, and buy local

Why not eat locally? You treat yourself to new tastes, new ways of eating, and important cultural insights when you eat locally. Why not stay at a family-run hotel instead of an international chain hotel? Why not buy locally made art, food, and fashion instead of visiting the very same stores you can find in a hundred other countries?

You will minimize tourism leakage by supporting the local community directly. You will interact with your local host or seller, and you will do what traveling should first and foremost be about: Excitement, novelty, surprise, learning new ways, and exploring your own cultural background in comparison.

You might add that travel is mostly about relaxation, pampering, and re-juvenation in today’s world. Even so, it’s simple to inject some sustainability in there. Just follow these simple tips for sustainable travel as presented in the infographic.

Three central resources on sustainable tourism

For more tips on sustainable travel, we suggest you to explore the websites of The International Ecotourism Society (Ties), Sustainable Travel International (STI), and Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA’s) website on tourism sustainability and social responsibility, sustain.pata.org. Here you will find a lot of background information on sustainable tourism along with guides, case studies, and research.

Photo credits (cover photo): Tourism Malaysia

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