Sustainable travel – behind this term hides more than to travel without plane and car. I have six simple tips how I personally plan to travel.
“Sustainable travel? This is just for hippies and ecos! “I always hear that when I talk about responsible travel. So, what’s behind it and why is it so important?
Sustainable tourism – what does that mean?
Sustainable tourism aims to meet the needs of tourists, locals and nature in the best possible way. From an ecological point of view, it is about minimizing the impact of tourism on nature and experiencing it in its original form. In cultural terms, the goal is to adapt as much as possible to cultural conditions.
Everyone can do their part – by choosing the destination, the means of transport, the travel/tour operator and their local behavior.
From an economic point of view sustainable tourism should promote the development of a region in order to increase its future prospects. Locals and tourists alike are in demand. Tourism revenues will be split up to promote and develop local, economic, social and environmental aspects and projects. For example, this could mean that an (international) hotel chain aims to source its furnishings from local manufacturers, that three-quarters of its employees must be local workers, and that some of the proceeds are donated to a local primary school or invested in an environmental project. This strengthens the skilled labor quota locally, lowers the number of unemployed, strengthens education and environmental protection, and the income flows back into the domestic economy.
What does sustainable traveling mean?
While sustainable tourism mainly comes from projects and initiatives of the private and public sector, sustainable travel is the behavior that the traveler exhibits – that is, you. And that’s the part to which each of us can contribute a little bit quickly and conveniently. You represent your country in the end. Would not it be nice if, for example, the German traveler is remembered as a respectful, communicative, considerate and responsible guest instead of a nagging sandal and tennis sock-wearing know-it-all from the West? So, what can you do?
Six tips for sustainable travel
1. Plan your trip with the right partners
Whether you are planning your vacation with a tour operator or traveling individually, find out in advance which accommodations, travel, tour or activity organizers rely on gentle nature tourism and support local communities, community projects or other types of charity organizations , Often you can find a label on their websites or read about how they protect the environment and get involved in the local economy in the “About us” section.
2. Inform yourself about your travel destination
Inform yourself about your target area, its political situation as well as cultural and religious particularities. These include clothing recommendations, behavior, habits, rituals, gestures, food, etc. Very important in this context are the so-called “Do’s & Don’ts”, which are often a key to intercultural understanding in addition to language and respect. Learn a few words or phrases in the local language and you will notice how friendly and positive the locals will react to you. Communication and contact with locals not only extends your horizons, but also often offers unexpected adventures and insider tips.
Whether jungle tour or multi-day trekking – with the right organizer, you support nature-related, sustainable tourism and the local population.
3. Make sure your equipment is environmentally friendly and fair
I buy outdoor equipment either from the (online) retailer of our confidence or in the shop that offers it the cheapest. Anyway, when it comes to branded goods, drop by the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA). The organization, which consists of outdoor brands and media, supports the maintenance and preservation of valuable conservation projects with annual contributions. The mission of EOCA is to give something back to the environment through collective cooperation. If you buy products of these brands, you also support the EOCA. Furthermore, sustainability labels help you to find brand manufacturers that focus on environmentally friendly production, fair working conditions, animal welfare and recycling.
4. Choose your transport consciously
Everyone knows that buses and trains are more environmentally friendly than planes or cars. But have you ever considered going on a cycling or hiking trip? And why not take a vacation in your country? A few summers ago I cycled through East Germany for four and a half months. Although I’m not an extreme athlete or hardcore adventurer, it was by far the best trip of my life and I highly recommend it to anyone. You can not be more sustainable, conscious and alive. If it is not possible without a plane, then at least the duration of your journey should be adapted to the distance. A short trip to the South Seas or a weekend in New York are then a no-go.
Those who travel slowly have many opportunities to meet locals. Volunteer projects also provide opportunities for intercultural encounters.
5. Find volunteer projects locally
Often you hear or find projects for sustainable tourism only on site, because they have either no own website or one that has not yet been translated. Keep your eyes and ears open, be open and just walk up to the people and ask if and how you can get involved. Mostly a completely new adventure awaits you, which can greatly expand your horizons. Some even find their long-awaited vocation in such a project and experience a complete change of direction in their lives.
6. Tell it on
Tell your friend, who also goes to India soon, what “Hello”, “Thank you very much” and “Goodbye” means in Indian and tell him about the nice family who spontaneously invited you to their home for dinner. Tell about the facility where you spent a few days helping to protect nesting sea turtles on the beach and tell him about the week when you just hiked through the back country with your backpack and found your inner-self once again. Be inspired and inspire others.
Sustainable travel: Everyone can make their personal contribution to way of traveling.
Conclusion: It’s so easy to make your contribution
Sustainable travel causes so much and at the same time requires so little. You just have to show respect and understanding, be open to the new and want to contribute to the well-being of our planet – on a very small level, your personal! It is knowledge, self-discovery and unforgettable memories that you bring back from your sustainable travels.
You have even more ideas or have already made experiences with the conscious and sustainable travel? Then let everyone participate and write a comment!