Traveling has changed a lot over the years, with people deciding to visit places they can contribute to and not only for vacation. Tourism brings money to destinations, but it can also leave behind worrisome issues, like pollution and endangering of wildlife.
Since the world is much closer today thanks to the internet than it was a few decades ago, it’s easy to highlight the problems and work on fixing them. Now you can be part of that change as a conscious and mindful traveler, and here are ways to become one.
- Be a smart flier or take a slower journey
Did you know that flying is responsible for 2.5% of total carbon emissions in the world? If nothing changes, predictions say that this percentage will double in the next 15 years. Until the planes start using eco-friendly fuels, it’s up to travelers to make them less damaging to the environment. When you plan your travel arrangements, look for direct flights since layovers cause more carbon emissions.
You can also find low-carbon solutions by calculating the emissions of your potential flight and finding the best option. Some airlines offset their flights by giving money from the tickets to environmental protection all around the world. To make an immediate difference, opt to take a slower journey by train since this will spend around 50% less fuel than a plane would.
- Travel closer to home
You’d be amazed how many wonderful spots you can visit in your own country. Traveling locally will save you money and leave a less impactful carbon footprint behind, especially if you travel by bike. If you still want to travel abroad, choose a destination that is closer to home.
Such destinations are great to be frugal with your traveling arrangements and go by bus, train, or boat. If you do have to fly, however, the flight will be short and need less fuel. You can be a conscious and mindful traveler if you go by car and pick the shortest road to your destination.
- Find an eco-friendly accommodation
Before you book your stay, take a good look at what your accommodation offers. Eco-friendly accommodations are on the rise and you won’t have trouble finding the perfect one with a little research. Look for a LEED-certified hotel which means it is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint and works on improving the environment.
If your potential accommodation doesn’t’ LEED Certification, read as much as possible about it on message boards and in testimonials. Look for online reviews that explain why it’s sustainable and green. For example, some accommodations use solar panels for electricity and serve only locally produced products.
- Buy local products
Conscious and sustainable traveler contributes to the local community by spending their money on products made by small businesses and individuals. Eating at a local restaurant that is not a part of a global chain and buying products from local farms is the most common to do it. Stop by festivals and markets to buy souvenirs from local artists and craftspersons. You will also get items that carry local tradition and customs, as well as manufacture that has been around for generations.
- Travel off-season
There are many reasons to travel during the off-season, like cheaper flights, accommodation, and less crowd. But, those are not the only reasons! Some destinations depend on tourism, meaning that outside the peak season, a lot of locals may have trouble staying afloat. By traveling in the off-season you will support small businesses and local communities helping them to have consistent income.
- Stay in smaller communities
Big cities may attract you with their 24/7 activity, but you can still see a lot of it if you stay in a quiet neighborhood or nearby town. This way you will leave money in less popular tourist communities, as well, even if it’s just for accommodation. Smaller cities, neighborhoods, and provinces can offer interesting tourist attractions and bring you closer to authentic local customs.
Staying in smaller communities will ensure that your money is infused into the local economy and that you leave less pollution behind. For example, not only is a small-town hotel owned and run by locals but also uses fewer resources and produces less waste.
- Make an impact while traveling
If you want to be part of the change, you can sign-up to volunteer overseas and help less-fortunate communities around the world. Choose a destination that will allow you to make a difference by participating in better education, health system, and wildlife protection.
You can even help if you notice something is not right on your travels, like reporting animal abuse and children exploitation. You can join various organizations that send people to affected areas to build housing, work at schools, and work on local projects, like marine preservation.
- Hop on a bike to go sightseeing
The best way to explore a destination is by foot or placing your feet on the pedals. Cars and other means of transportation may seem easier, but you will also leave a carbon footprint behind. It’s far from being able to completely avoid these transportations, but at least you can take it down to a minimum.
A lot of it will depend on the way you plan your touring of destinations. So, try to create an itinerary that will cut down your fuel consumption and make you more physically active. Besides being good for the environment, cycling is also good for your body and mind.
- Don’t leave your rubbish behind
Leaving rubbish behind can endanger wildlife, nature, and residents of the local community. The most important thing is to pick after yourself and leave nothing behind. If you go hiking in nature, bring trash bags and don’t feed the animals. Instead of single-use bottles and dishes, bring those that you can wash and use again, as well as a water thermos with built-in filters.
- Consider camping
If you are traveling to spend more time in nature, then forget to stay in a hotel and opt for camping. This is an ideal way to practice mindfulness and improve your health far away from traffic, crowds, and pollution. Being in nature can do wonders for your blood pressure, creativity, and stress, giving you a nice reminder to love yourself. While it will be good for the environment, your body will also feel the benefits of surrounding yourself with greenery, open space, and peacefulness.
A conscious and mindful traveler goes to places they can change for the better. This will not only help local communities and the environment but also bring fulfillment and satisfaction to the traveler. After all, it’s a known fact that by helping others we also improve our mental health and ourselves.