These days, it’s no secret that while most travelers may have the best of intentions, tourism can have a huge impact on both the environment and the lives of locals. Traveling ethically doesn’t mean that you can no longer visit bucket-list destinations. It simply means considering the negative impacts on each destination and choosing accordingly.
It’s also important to consider other things like the purchases you make while on holiday. For example, many souvenirs can have a really bad impact on the local environment and natural habitats. That’s why it’s important to ask questions about the products you’re purchasing and find out who is making those products and whether those people are getting paid fairly for their work.
For anyone who has traveled abroad, it’s likely that you’ve seen animals being exploited overseas. We’ve all seen those photos of tourists posing with drugged tigers or sitting on the backs of elephants in Southeast Asia. Whether it’s getting too close to dolphins during dolphin encounters or seeing circuses in Eastern Europe, these are just a few examples of the types of exploitation that tourists contribute to when overseas. It’s important to remember that there are plenty of ways that you can enjoy animals without causing them harm.
Thankfully, many tourists are making this clear with their wallets, and sustainable tourism initiatives are popping up around the world, allowing tourists to make the right choice.
Another thing to consider? The impact that your flights have on the environment. Instead of taking multiple small choices, take more time off work and combine a couple of trips and use overland travel. A longer trip will allow you to unwind, see more, and return to work feeling more refreshed. It’ll also reduce your carbon footprint, which is great karma.
Whenever possible, choose public transport. Many of the biggest tourist cities also have an extensive metro and/or bus network, allowing you to easily get around, avoid traffic, do your bit for the environment, and hang out with locals.
When you first start thinking about ethical travel, this can feel overwhelming- after all, where do you start? One of the best ways to begin is to make a list of your travel ethics. What types of behaviors reflect who you are as a person and the impact you want to have on the world? When you’re booking your next trip, look at your ethics and incorporate them as much as you can.