11 STEPS FOR A MORE SUSTAINABLE JOURNEY: Part 2 –Sustainability in the destination

If you already read part 1 of the steps for a more sustainable journey, you already know how you should prepare yourself for a journey and everything you need to take in your bag. Now that the destination and the dates are chosen and that we are already on the way to our next vacation, let’s discuss some tips on how we should behave once we’re there.

Let’s go?

Sustainable practices during the journey

Walk as much as you can

Is there any better way to explore a destination than on foot? Besides the automatic benefit of getting fitter, we can discover much more than what we planned or expected. This is the best way to find unique streets or hidden places that sometimes are inaccessible by car and are only known by locals. We can discover markets, rural areas, amazing people, and much more! Of course, it won’t be always possible to walk and not all countries have public transports to take you to the place you want, but, if it is possible, on your next journey, try to discover an area on foot. You won’t regret it!

Consume local

The true pleasure of traveling is all about experiencing a new culture. Listen to new sounds, taste new flavors, and much more. Traveling should be much more than simply ticking of countries out of your bucket list and take photos. When you travel don’t forget what makes your destination so special and unique: their local communities and their culture. Try to eat more in local restaurants, do your shopping in markets, sleep in local hotels, or find a local guide! You will have a more immersive experience as there is no one better than a local to show their country and the hidden and marvelous places and experiences! The journey will be more authentic and you will enjoy it much more. Besides all that, all these actions will help the local communities to have a better life and to keep the destination authentic.

Pay fair

In many countries around the world, a bargain is almost like a tradition. I am not against it, because sometimes we are asked for astronomical prices made just to trick tourists, but we should know to find a balance. There is nothing wrong with doing it as long as you do it consciously. If you think they are already giving you the fair price, don’t try to lower it more. Sometimes people try to decrease the price of 1€ or 2€ without thinking about the value of those 2€ in the local currency. Maybe for us, that value is almost nothing, but a local man can feed his family with that amount. Some worthless values for us can have a major difference for them. By paying the right price we can help the ones that need the most to keep a good life.

Avoid plastic

Remember I told you to place a fabric bag in your luggage? Well if you forgot it that’s okay. You can buy one at your destination as nowadays almost all countries have cute fabric bags that you can, later on, keep as a souvenir. If you go shopping take that bag with you and another tip you can try is, instead of going to a supermarket try to go to a local market. Normally the market products are fresher and tastier and you can easily buy them in bulk and avoid all the plastic packaging of the supermarkets. Another question related to plastic: do you really need to drink your soda with a straw? Well, if the answer is no, tell your waiter not to bring one or ask them if they have another type of straws (by making this question you will create in them the understanding that people are starting to demand more ecological products and they will more likely make the change later on). Please avoid plastic at all costs since many countries do not have a recycling policy or even if they do it works poorly.

The easiest tip of them all: place your garbage where it belongs

I’ve always thought to myself that this would be something people could easily do, but every time I travel I get shocked to see the amount of trash in certain places. Do not litter on the floor; there are specific places for that purpose. If you don’t have a garbage bin close to you, just take it a little bit longer or ask any establishment near you to use their bin, there’s always somewhere to do it, always! But, never the floor, never the water or any place that is not the right one. And if you are in the country that recycles, do it too. Don’t forget that the trash you leave on the floor today, in the town river tomorrow and in one month it can be in the ocean, affecting many species.

Follow the local authorities’ recommendations

If you visit a natural park and they ask you not to leave the marked way or if you’re in a conservation park and you’re asked not to feed the animals, don’t do it. There is a reason for those rules to exist and most of the time they are directly connected with the preservation of natural spaces and their wildlife. Sometimes they’re also related to your safety, so please follow the recommendations. They’re for your good and for helping to preserve the beautiful place you’re seeing now, so your future generations can also see it.

Forgot your sunscreen?

In the previous post, we spoke about the importance of choosing the right sunscreen regarding its chemicals and their impact on marine wildlife. If you forgot it at home try to find a sustainable and coral reef safe one where you are. And if you’re planning to dive, do not forget to not to touch the corals or any other animals, since we have oils in our hands that can be harmful to some species.

Our best friend: the bottle of water

Don’t forget to carry your bottle of water everywhere you go, so you can fill it out during the day. You will save money and plastic since you don’t have to buy more bottles.

Be thoughtful with your souvenirs

Corals, starfishes, seashells, among many others, are not souvenirs. Don’t take pieces of corals or dry healthy starfishes just to take them home. These are living beings that belong to a certain habitat and should not be taken to be decorative motifs. Do not forget: “Take only memories, leave only footprints”.

Respect the destination’s animal life

The animals you will see along your journey are on their natural habitat. When you see them or have any type of contact with them, please respect the indications you have and do not do anything that might disturb them; don’t forget we are only visitors in their home and not the other way around. Don’t feed them your food or try to do a closer contact, since many times this might cause erratic behavior in the animals and disturb the normal functioning of their ecosystem. Another very important tip: do not use the animals as your transport! Cars pulled by horses under huge temperatures, animals carrying heavy bags and people, riding on the top of elephants, among many other things, are not sustainable behavior. Try to create a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the animals and let them live their “normal” life.

Sustainable practices at your accommodation

How many times do you wash your shower towels at home?

Do you wash your shower towels every day? If you don’t do it is because you don’t feel that need. So, if we don’t do it at home, we should also not doing while traveling. Nowadays many lodging units already have rules, like where you should place your towels if you wish them to be washed, but not all of them have it. If that’s the case of where you’re staying, just ask them not to wash them when you don’t need it. The same applies to room cleaning. If you think your room doesn’t need to be clean on a certain day, just tell the reception. You will be saving a lot of resources, like water.

Save water and energy

Most of us treat water like a granted resource and have no problem accessing it, but is it also like that in the destination you’re visiting? We do know that a lot of countries have huge difficulties to have water and many times, just a few kilometers from a resort with huge pools, there is a village struggling to get drinkable water. To avoid the misuse of this precious resource try to take shorter showers and close the taps every time you’re soaping your brushing your teeth.

Whenever you leave your rooms always switch off the lights and don’t forget to do turn your AC off as well.

These are simple habits that you probably already have at home and they can have a big impact on the community you’re visiting. You might think that if you take a shorter shower nothing will change, but if all the guests of a hotel do shorter showers, at the end of the year a lot of water will be saved. Remember that the way to sustainability can be long and in some cases, the results are only seen in a long term perspective.

These are only some tips that we can follow to be more sustainable while traveling. I’m sure there are many more tips and each destination has different necessities and problems that should be faced with different measures. Get informed about your destination’s culture and how things work there. The basis for sustainability is respect. Respect for the local community, for the environment, and for us all. You will feel much better at the end of the journey and you will have a much more authentic experience if you connect more with your destination.

Let me know if you already follow any of these tips or if you have any others you follow.

Stay safe and keep traveling to the green!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *