How to Be an Eco-Friendly Traveler
As of December 2014, I’ve traveled to 82 cities in 18 countries and have few regrets… besides not being a more eco-friendly traveler. This earth is a gift to us and as travelers we should always hold it in high esteem. That means being more conscious of the impact we make not only on nature, but on animals and people too. Here’s to practicing what I preach going forward…
Pack Reusable Water Bottles
I know, I know — buying more stuff to use less? Yes, sometimes that’s the solution! I get sick when I push a koala-sized amount of food trash into a bin, especially when it’s from a single meal. It’s ridiculous to carry around your own utensils, or is it? Not when it’s a collapsible water bottle. I just bought one of these and it will definitely be a travel essential wherever I go, even at home!
Pick Up After Yourself
It goes without saying that littering anywhere is a sin, but even moreso when you travel. It doesn’t matter how dirty the place is, being a tourist who litters is the worst kind of tourist. If you’re a really good person, you’ll even seek out a recycling bin!
Avoid Questionable Tour Companies
When doing research for a trip to Thailand, I discovered that some elephant tour companies treat their animals harshly, even abusively. Animals are a vital part of any eco-system so it’s just as important to respect wildlife as it is to avoid damaging the environment. Do your homework before you book tours and activities anyway, but especially in places with fragile ecosystems, corrupt governments, or endangered animals.
Take Public Transportation
If you can avoid renting a car, do so. Public transportation in most countries is cheaper than car rental and can be a wild ride. Ever ridden in the back of a Jeepney in the Philippines? How about Tokyo trains at rush hour? Using public transportation is another way to avoid traveling like a tourist.
Smoking is Air Pollution — Don’t Do It
Even third-hand smoke — smoke left over in the room — has now been linked to health problems. Be a darling and just don’t light up! People like me will be very glad you didn’t, especially in crowded places like tourist sites, train stations, outdoor cafes, etc. And definitely do not smoke at nature preserves!
Respect Protected Environments
Some nature preserves are off-limits and for good reason. Even if we don’t know why a certain park or sight is forbidden, respect the signage and stay out. Some ecosystems are so fragile, even footprints are destructive.