How to travel in a more
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When I was a student, saving was a big part of my life: the more I saved, the more countries I could visit, and the more places I could see. Over time, I realized that cheaper does not mean better. I studied conservation and animal science and willy-nilly began to think about the impact that my travels have on nature.
I realized that you do not always need to choose the cheapest hotels, buy disposable things for the trip and grab made-in-China souvenirs without looking, just because they are cheap and make a perfect gift. Money for a tourist is not just a way to pay for goods, but also a way of approving a particular service and supporting locals. With your money, you are able to support either a single mother, who sells handmade crafts to feed her family or a huge factory in Thailand, where they exploit children and pay them one dollar a day. You can either support a chain hotel, the owner of which already has several Ferraris, or a local guesthouse, where the owner himself grows vegetables, recycles garbage and filters water. We face similar choices every day during our travels and it is important to encourage and support right services and companies.
I love watching Discovery Channel, documentaries always cover the problems of global warming, the greenhouse effect and the extinction of animals. I am sure they scare everyone, but sometimes it is hard to understand what we should do to improve our lifestyle. I always question myself: "What should I, an ordinary tourist, do to somehow change the situation so my travels no longer harm the world?"
I tried to collect some tips that will help to travel more eco-friendly, but will not affect your comfort in any way, and often will help to save even more.
More Travels Less Planes
It is not a secret for anyone that the rapid development of air transport and the increase of its role in human life adversely affect the environment.
Acoustic and air pollution, the release of gases into the atmosphere and climate change- all this is the real price of a cheap trip to the sunny island or traveling with your favorite low-cost airline.
What to do?
Flying is not always the most convenient mode of transportation. Much more often I prefer to travel by train and public transport. Sometimes a five-hour train ride is more cost-effective, environmentally friendly and faster than a 30-minute flight. After all, you need to arrive two hours earlier to the airport for your flight, also most airports are located outside of the city, so you will also need time to get there. On the other hand, buses and trains will always bring you to the city center, and you can do a little sight-seeing with public transport as well.
If you travel far, then take a direct flight, as they cause less harm. And also try to use airlines that use biofuel, invest in its development and recycle garbage.
Here are examples of airlines that are eco-friendly: Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Qantas, United, British Airways, KLM, Air France, Finnair, Virgin, American Airlines. Low-cost airline: EasyJet, Norwegian.
Rent bicycles, use the services of shared-taxi like bla-bla car, rent a hybrid or electro car.
I, honestly, do not remember anymore when was the last time I saw a clean public beach. You can complain every time you see a plastic bottle on the beach or you can do something about it, for example, collect it and throw it away. Reducing the use of plastic is not easy (it is literally in every product we buy now), but let's try to figure out how to do it while traveling.
What to do?
To begin with, buy less plastic for the trip and use all products several times. For example, take reusable travel containers. Before the trip, they can be filled with shampoos and gels from large bottles.
Always take a tote bag with you: it does not take a lot of space and it will be useful during a trip to the market or to the beach.
The reusable water bottle is another great idea. If you travel through Europe, tap water can be drunk pretty much everywhere. Also, do not hesitate to ask for free water at the airport - I've never been denied refilling a bottle. Outside Europe, everything is more complicated, but still, you can get drinkable water at the hotel. I have a bottle with a filter by https://www.watertogo.eu/ and I'm not afraid to drink water even from the tap in Africa.
The good news is that eco-hotels are becoming more popular and more accessible.
Where to stay?
Eco-hotels recycle garbage and waste, grow their own food, filter water, use renewable energy, hire locals and pay them accordingly, they do not waste plastic, support local farmers, fishermen, and artists.
Stay in such a hotel will always be aimed at unity with nature. Perhaps your room will not have a 40-inch TV, but you wake up with a sound of singing birds that are not afraid to fly to the territory of such hotels.
How to find such hotels?
If you google "ecohotel" and country or city where you are going to- you will get enough options. Such hotels are always proud of their policies, so on the website, you will find a lot of information about what they are doing and how your visit will help.
Also, there are sites exclusively for eco-hotels:
Bits and pieces
It was hard for me to prove to my mom that she could travel to me only with her phone, that we are living in the 21st century and it is not necessary to print boarding passes, bus tickets, hotel reservation confirmation- you just need to have all of that on your phone. Now my mother is teaching her friends that for your reassurance and comfort you need to have a portable charger, not a printout.
A plastic straw is a useless thing that kills sea animals and is one of the biggest polluters in the world. Do not take cocktails with a straw or use biodegradable straws.
When boarding a plane make sure you have your headphones, earplugs and a blindfold with you, so you can avoid using bags of cheap plastic provided by the airline.
While trekking and hiking through the national parks do not leave marked paths as you can cause potential damage to fragile ecosystems and step on rare plans.
Do not throw towels in hotels on the floor before they are too dirty- this is a sign that they need to be replaced, use towels several times.
When you leave the hotel room, turn off the lights and air conditioning.
Return tourist maps and brochures - they can be used again.
Do not buy souvenirs made from animal materials and ivory and never pay for photos with animals as well as visit reputable animal attraction while abroad. You can learn how to distinguish appropriate animal attraction by following steps here:
Do not be afraid to explore and travel to places where there are fewer tourists. Very often overly popular places from the postcards are not worth visiting because they are too crowded. The most exciting adventures come from spontaneous decisions.
Many people think that those small changes will not help on the global scale and firstly, big companies need to stop polluting and change their policies. But not too many people understand that we, tourists and travelers have a lot of power. If all travelers will start to demand more environmentally friendly practices and avoid companies with poor eco records, companies will have no other option but to change. We directly influence trends, raise demand for certain products so it is in our power to pick what will be popular.
We all visit these places for a reason why contribute to their ruin? Travel does not have to be environmentally destructive. We have the power to make travel more eco-friendly and we should demand more of the places we stay and visit. Lets starting caring about our planet today, so we do not regret tomorrow!