10 ways to travel more sustainable (and thus more consciously)

When I go after a long surf session again to the line up paddle wring I got me through seaweed and plastic. A Balinese girl surfs gracefully (she’s really good!) on her long board with a plastic bag in her hand. When she paddled back I only understand why she has a plastic bag; She collects plastic from the sea and saves it in that plastic bag until she’s done surfing. Plastic is not just a problem in the sea. Everywhere we have been in the last half year has been used to find plastic where it does not belong. And yes, also in protected natural areas.

When it comes to sustainable travel, we can do something about it; The locals, but also we as travelers. and sustainable travel is going to say more than just no to plastic. When travelling, it is much more than just the environmental perspective. It is about the positive impact we make as travellers. That’s why I want to share some tips with you to travel more sustainable. Good intention for 2018 right?

What is sustainable travel

Sustainable or more conscious travel (also called sustainable travel) is not just reducing our carbon footprints, reducing waste, promoting recycling etc. -It is also about our impact on people. Where we spend our money on tourism-dependent places, how we treat nature and how we deal with locals to leave a destination like or even better than it was.

How can you make your own sustainable travel?

1. Bring as many things as possible-say no to plastic

In shops, laundry or at a street food tent. Everywhere you come into contact with plastic. Its not the plastic bags then it is the the smoothie in plastic cup including plastic lid and straw. or the plastic cutlery, packing to the food in the grocery store and bottled water. Of course it is difficult to go through life completely without plastic, but you can already reduce the plastic use by taking your own stuff along.

But what do you take with you?

  • No more thinking away from the Netherlands are the refillable bottles of the of the. But why not take it on a trip? He was born out of frustration about the fast growing plastic soup in our oceans. The Dopperfles is made so that you can keep it clean and reuse for years. In addition, the bottle is made of durable materials. And the cap of the bottle is reversed a cup, also useful when you go camping for example. When it is up to the detour and to us we live in a world where people are aware of the environment and use less single-use plastic waste.
  • As for bags: it is very simple to bring your own bag. For example, I have been the same water repellent and shoptas of Susan Bijl for 10 years
  • Bring your own stainless steel container for street food in Asia for example. Often your food comes in plastic bins that leak. With your own container you can even do the lid to keep your food when you’re full and it doesn’t leak in your bag. Handy right? Tip for a stainless steel container is the Elishamah lunch
  • Bring your own cutlery and say no to plastic cutlery. On tour it will be tricky to get stainless steel cutlery by customs, but you can also take wooden cutlery or even better: chopsticks.

2. Buy your goodies wisely

Buying a sarong during a trip through Bali or such elephant pants in Thailand is fun (and cheap), but are you going to really use it during your trip? And at home? It is not only extra baggage (unless you have no more pants, after half a year of travelling like I;-)), but it is probably in the closet for years until you decide to give it away or throw it. Sin. Did you know that clothing does not decompose? -Not even the “natural fibers?”.

The same thing actually applies to the souvenirs. It’s nice to bring handmade goodies (especially by locals), but don’t do it for the sake of bringing something back. Yet?

3. Choose the market and eat locally

Unlike supermarkets, markets are the perfect places for travellers. You can taste the local food and learn more about the habits in a country. Oh and the way to practice the local language! On the market you will find fresh, healthy food that is not packaged in plastic (bonus points!). Plus you support local farmers by eating in the season. Oh and don’t forget to bring your food container and bag with you!

Fruit on the market Cambodia
Local food

4. Make use of refill stations

In countries like Asia you often cannot get filtered water from the tap, but for a small amount (and sometimes even free) you can refill your bottle at a water point in hotels and at restaurants and coffee shops. Do you buy a water bottle? Buy as many large packs of mininaal a litre as possible. Do you want to know if you can drink the water at your destination? Take a look at the websites:

5. Support Small Businesses

Instead of the big chains, you can always choose to support a small local business. Think of a small restaurant or shop. So you know for sure that the money is going to the locals and not the CEOs who really don’t need an extra holiday home. Are you going to shop souvenirs? Shop from different shops instead of everything at one. Divide your money and make several people happy:)

6. Be well prepared

My personal shame is that I made an elephant ride in Thailand in 2007 and I do not know if they cared for these animals well. I just love ignorance. Although I am a spontaneous traveller and do not always read me about the destination, I try to do more and more. In California I was not aware that there was a number of years scarcity of water through the heat. If you know this you can have a little shower in this case (a good one anyway). We showered less while camping;-) Or do not do that elephant ride and visit for example no Luwakplantage (from the Luwakkoffie) because the animals are not treated well. In any case, please inform yourself whether the animal sanctuaries is really sanctuaries.

Forest fires California
Forest fires California

7. Move your green (er)

You can also travel sustainably in transport;  Fly less where necessary and look for options for the train. Explore the city? Go cycling or walking instead of by taxi (or share a taxi). Still flying. You can fly more sustainably if you take direct-instead of indirect flights. You can also delve into which airline is greener.

On road trip? Some rental companies are greener than others.

8. Immerse yourself in the accommodation

Sustainable travel in residence? Don’t just choose the fancy hotels with infinity pools. Try to sleep as much green and local as possible. Does the hotel have a Towel and Sheet Reuse program? Does the hotel have water-saving initiatives like low flush toilets and showerheads with a lower flow rate? It is also better to support a local hotel than to sleep in a Airbnb. Do you want to sleep in a Airbnb? Then choose a shared house.

9. Don’t Wander off

Is It worth a picture to enter protected areas? To disturb protected animals, destroy plants. All for that one insta gram picture? And perhaps from a cliff to fall? There is a reason to insist that you should stay on the trails. Don’t be that tourist.

10. Talk not only with fellow travelers

The simplest way to understand the culture is by talking to the local population, but also by listening. And do that not just to photograph that popular Insta gram of a local. Learn some words that they find great. In Indonesia they were totally happy when I thanked them in Indonesian. Also talk about your own life. Tell about yourself: Why do you travel, what you find beautiful to the country and show interest in the other.

Good luck! And I’m especially curious what you do to travel more sustainable?

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