Traveling is an incredible way to expand your mindset, experience new cultures, step out of your comfort zone and meet new people. For me, traveling has opened up so many new doors. I have learned more about myself and had some of the most memorable experiences abroad.
But there are many ways when traveling can be a burden – to the local people and the environment. Tourism today hinders the developing countries mainly by mass tourism where “prepaid tours, cruises, and all-inclusive resorts” means that “most money generated by tourism flows out of the host country, or never enters it.” Additionally, “as tourism continues to grow in a region, it makes increasing demands on the scarce resources of that area” (Global Tourism, Theobald).
Here is a general list of ways to travel sustainably and ethically: Research the companies you’re going to support. Before giving money to large tourism industries, research the excursion, hotel, restaurants and anything else you are going to do on your trip. See what companies are giving back to the community and how they integrate the locals and their culture or financial stability into their industry.
Ecotourism is the best way to see a new place and protect the environment while doing so. The activities in ecotourism will support the surrounding ecosystem and the company is likely to support the local community as well. Again, do your research first!
2. Wear coral reef-friendly sunscreen if you are going in the ocean.
Many forms of sunscreen contain chemicals responsible for coral bleaching and harming marine life. Make sure your sunscreen does not have oxybenzone or octinoxate or high levels of titanium dioxide.
3. Leave every place as you came – and maybe even better.
Don’t leave trash behind, try to use less plastics while you’re there and clean something up if it was left by another tourist.
4. Be patient.
When traveling the local people often won’t see things the same way. Some countries are generally slower-paced or some locals may come off as aggressive to you in other countries. Take everything with a grain of salt – you’re experiencing a new culture!
5. No cruise ships.
Sorry to all the dads who love cruise ships out there like mine. Cruise ships emit tons of harmful gases into the atmosphere and have terrible records of illegal trash dumping straight into the ocean.
6. Watch your miles.
Planes are no friend to our atmosphere either. But you can always help by buying offsets either through organizations or looking into offsets through your chosen airline.
7. Engage with the locals!
Not all of the best experiences abroad are booked with big traveling companies. Be safe but open to exploring on your own. Ask passerby locals about any upcoming events or their favorite hidden spots or activities.
8. Keep the environment and local community in mind.
That’s the bigger picture, here. Don’t you want your kids to be able to come back to the same location and it be just as beautiful? And for the locals to be thriving from the tourism industry – not being pushed out? Spread love and thoughtfulness in your ventures and all will be well!