“Sustainability” has been a buzzword in the travel industry the past few years, and folks are often coming up with new ways to be the most conscious traveler. We believe that to succeed as a sustainable traveler you must be consistent. Instead of trying to tackle everything for your upcoming trip, try sticking to these five principles for every trip in the future.
#1: Don’t Spend Your Money in One Spot
This should be fairly easy—just don’t spend all of your money in one spot! Try a few different restaurants for breakfast. Buy a gift for your mom from one local artist and a gift for your nephew from another local artist. Spreading the wealth helps create a balanced economy, especially in smaller communities.
#2: Shop Local (But Like Actually Local)
Directly support and impact a local economy by shopping locally when visiting. If there is a Walgreens and a locally-owned mercantile, get your supplies at the mercantile. If there is a local artist selling their work and a gift shop selling T-shirts made in China, buy from the local artist. Be a smart consumer and try to help small, local businesses as much as possible.
Step 3: Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Say it louder for the people in the back! This is the easiest way to be a more conscious traveler. Avoiding single-use plastics creates less waste in the community you are visiting. Not all communities are set up to handle such large amounts of trash from visitors, which is why it often ends up in the oceans and washes up on beaches. Below are a few substitutes you can make:
Check out our video on Leave No Trace principles.
#4: Use Transportation Wisely
Sometimes avoiding a plane is impossible, but traveling via train or bus should always be considered if it’s an option. In Europe trains go almost everywhere and they’re a much greener option than a plane—plus it’s more adventurous! If you’re visiting a town that can be navigated by bicycle or public transit, always choose that over renting a car. Public transportation generally releases less greenhouse gases and doesn’t contribute to as much congestion in cities.
#5: Leave It a Better Place Than You Found It
This is one is obvious, but still worth mentioning as not everyone abides by this guideline. Leave a place better and cleaner than you found it. In cities, clean up after yourselves and even pick up litter if you see it. The same rules apply when in the backcountry—follow the Leave No Trace principles to keep the outdoors as beautiful as they were when you experienced them.