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Be a Responsible Traveler: 6 Eco-Travel Mistakes to Avoid

a hand holding a green leaf

Had it not been for the recent pandemic, more and more people would still be out and on their way to their dream destination.

 

Until recently, it is evident that more and more people are having the capacity to explore the world. However, travel and tourism pose the greatest environmental threats.

 

This explains why environmentalists and eco-warriors encourage people to practice responsible travel.

Why Responsible Travel Matters?

Also known as sustainable tourism or eco-friendly travel, responsible travel is basically minimizing your negative impact on the environment while traveling.

 

This may seem like a marketing trend nowadays, but such practice allows us (and the next generation) to continuously enjoy the beauty of nature.

 

So, if you are a frequent traveler and you would like to do your part in helping save Mother Earth, here are five things that you should avoid:

1. Improper trash disposal

Whether you are traveling or just walking to the nearest store, littering is not (and will never be) cool. In fact, this is one of the common pieces of advice you will hear in relation to saving the environment.

 

Mind you, trash made of plastic has the greatest negative impact on the environment.

 

For one, single-use plastics take hundreds of years to decompose. Second, it can harm the world’s wildlife. How many videos of marine animals trapped in plastic soda separators have you seen lately?

 

That said, refuse to use single-use plastics wherever you are as much as possible. But in case you forgot your eco bag, do your best to dispose of your trash properly.

 

Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean that your earth-friendly habits should go on vacation, too.

2. Taking multiple flights

How you arrive and get around at your destination can have a huge impact on the environment. And in case you don’t know, commercial aviation accounts for 2% of the global carbon emissions.

 

This tantamount to 12% CO2 emissions within the transportation sector ‒ and it’s expected to triple by 2050.

 

That said, if you want to be a responsible traveler, you can decrease your carbon footprint by taking direct flights. If doing so is impossible or expensive on your part, opt for as less connected flights as possible.

 

Abby Synan of Speck on the Globe also advises that you consider not flying again once you’ve arrived at your destination.

3. Booking the wrong accommodation

Just like with your mode of transportation, your accommodation can also have an impact on the environment.

 

Sure, you can choose to book a hotel if you can afford it. Moreso if you prioritize security and comfort. However, resorts and hotels are not always eco-friendly.

 

On the other hand, choosing Airbnb as your accommodation can contribute to the displacement of local residents and the rising rent cost in the city. After all, many overseas workers would opt to buy a condo unit and have it rented via Airbnb.

 

Regardless of what accommodation you choose, make sure that you are helping the local economy and that it will allow you to practice environment-friendly habits.

4. Not packing properly

Aside from your mode of transportation and type of accommodation, the way you pack your items can also have an environmental impact.

 

Here’s the thing: Vehicle weight and horsepower can contribute to the vehicle’s carbon emissions. Meaning, the heavier the vehicle, the more CO2 it emits. And we all know how CO2 damages our ozone layers.

 

Hence, if you want to be a responsible traveler, do your best to travel light and fit all of your belongings in a carry-on.

5. Patronizing wildlife tourism

Sure, we travel the world to enjoy its beauty, which includes wildlife.

 

As far as the travel industry is concerned, wildlife tourism allows sanctuaries to raise funds that are meant to protect these species. However, patronizing such tourism practices can also do harm to the animals.

 

They tend to be taken away from their natural habitat, commoditized, and revoked of natural breeding and evolution.

 

If you really love animals and it’s one of the reasons you travel, wildlife biologist Schuttler Stephanie shares these best practices:

 

  1. Research about the sanctuary you’re visiting
  2. Read and learn the rules of the sanctuary
  3. Avoid places where people are allowed to touch and feed the animals
  4. Be wary of places that have a steady supply of baby animals
  5. Enjoy watching wildlife in their natural habitat

Final Thoughts

It takes work to become a responsible traveler. However, doing so allows us to preserve our favorite destinations.

 

For one, it allows us to uplift the lives of the local community. When we travel and patronize local products, it is our way of helping people keep their jobs and feed their families. You have no idea how buying at least one local delicacy can bring a child to school.

 

In addition, responsible traveling allows us to behold the culture of local people. Doing so can be as simple as taking public transportation instead of flagging a taxi. Not to mention that it also allows you to lessen your carbon footprint while traveling.

 

Simply put, being aware of what you bring out to the world makes travel more enjoyable.

Writer: Geraldine Mills [email protected]