Traveling taking care of the environment it’s easy if you commit with yourself to impact it as less as possible. If in your everyday life you use fabric bags to go shopping, or you separate waste, or you use transports that generate few or null greenhouse gas emissions, in short, if you are an environmental friendly person, then you are ready to be part of a revolution. Which revolution? Traveling in a sustainable way. Why? To create demand in order to green entrepreneurs to launch new businesses related to sustainable tourism that will encourage governments to develop politics in this way. How? Let me explain through my experience as an eco-traveler how you can do the same.
First of all I would like to talk about accommodations. I like this type of little hotels managed by a friendly family that put all their effort to run a business, integrating it, as much as they can, into the environment. Sometimes, they don’t have any certification to show how good they are, but they have more commitment to the environment than a big hotel with lots of certifications. In addition, they can tell curious stories about the land. I remember when I travelled to Chile one time: I visited a little village in Patagonia and I spent a whole raining afternoon chatting with the children of the eco-lodge and it was amazing because I learnt a lot about their little lives.
Food is my favorite part of a travel. I’m a foodie and I really like to taste the typical food of every country I visit. Sometimes it’s good to leave the guide book inside the bag and investigate by yourself. I’ll give you some good advice: ask for the type of restaurant that you want to eat to the local people, they will recommend you the most authentic. Last year I travelled to Bhutan and I was in love with their cuisine. The guide recommended me restaurants that use local products and do traditional dishes. I also did a cooking workshop and I bought a recipe book to do at home, but of course, they don’t taste as good as the dishes I had there.
I’m more of an independent traveler, but sometimes I enjoy doing guided tours, especially in protected areas. When I traveled to Costa Rica, I did some tours in natural parks, and it was incredible to discover the rich biodiversity through the eyes of the guide. I remember a quote that one guide said to us: “When humans walk, nature stops; and when humans stop, nature starts to walk”. And it was awesome: when he said that, we stopped for about five minutes, and with every passing second, we were able to distinguish more and more of the different sounds of the wild nature.
When I visit a country, I like to go around walking or by bicycle, and for long distances I try to use public transport or carpooling, which it’s my favorite because it’s a good way to meet people. When I travel with my friends or my boyfriend, we sometimes rent a car because it gives us more independence; in this case, a good option is to rent one that generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions. I recognize that transports are the most difficult part of a travel to make sustainable, but it isn’t impossible.
An issue that I would like to highlight is that water, energy, and raw materials in general, are very necessary for the developing of a country. Especially water, because it is crucial for life, and in some countries it’s a limited resource. When I traveled to Nepal, a local guide told me that Nepalese don’t have unlimited tap water all day and they can’t even drink it because it’s contaminated. Normally in hotels, they have a tank that helps to provide water to guests, so in this case we have to do a very rational use of it.
Another issue that I care about when I travel is waste. Some countries don’t have a good waste management and it affects the local population and the environment, causing water and soil contamination. In my everyday life I don’t use plastic bags, so when I travel I do the same and I put in my baggage some fabric bags. Another tip is to use the appropriate containers to throw away garbage, and if there’s no trash can, bring it with you and throw it away when you can.
I think traveling is a way to open minds to eliminate prejudices, and the solution to the negative impacts of tourism isn’t to forbid it, for me is to travel in a more responsible way, and as ecotourists we have the key to make it possible. Do you want to be part of the sustainable tourism revolution?
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