Taking a trip somewhere you’ve never been can be really good for you. Travel allows you to experience new cultures, different ways of life and, maybe best of all, an escape from the stress that work and day-to-day life sometimes creates.
Sustainable travel can do all of these things while keeping your carbon footprint low. This ensures that the fragile ecosystems you’re visiting continue to thrive for future travelers. Want to see the world without leaving a trace? Here are a few sustainable travel tips that’ll help you ghost through your vacation:
Pass on Fast Food: Sure, you need to eat while you’re on the road, but fast food is not only bad for the waistline, but it also generates a ton of trash, according to the National Resource Defense Council. Pack a cooler full of healthy options like protein-rich granola bars, veggies and plenty of water. Choose accommodations with a built-in kitchen area so you can cook your own healthy meals, and avoid eating out as much as possible.
Visit the Mechanic Before You Leave: Your car’s gas mileage is lower when your car is in peak working condition because it takes less effort to keep the thing moving. If you’ll be traveling by automobile, visit the mechanic and have a full inspection to ensure your emissions are as low as possible during your long-distance drive. Maybe he can even fix that occasional squealing sound while you’re there! Check out the EPA’s website for tips on maintaining your car properly to improve its impact on the environment.
Skip Daily Maid Service: Staying at a hotel is a nice treat — just be aware of the many green options hotels offer. Daily towel changes really aren’t necessary and use an awful lot of water. Look for sustainable hotels whenever possible and help save the fish!
Stay in a Hostel: A more economical choice for accommodations on your trip is to stay in a hostel. Hostels are a type of community-based housing where you share rooms and bathrooms with other guests. Many hostels run on alternative energy, offer extensive recycling and find many other ways to keep their carbon footprint low.
For the greenest of hostels, venture off to Iceland, one of the most eco-conscious countries in the world. According to Gadling, not only is Reykjavík City Hostel eco-friendly itself, it is also located next to a big geothermal swimming pool, beautiful waterfalls, explosive geysers and other natural wonders for an even greener experience.
Ecotourism is a relatively new travel concept, likely due in no small part to our better understanding of just how fragile some of Earth’s most beautiful ecosystems are. Below are just a few destinations worth seeing in your lifetime:
Amazon River: The Amazon rain forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. As humans clear-cut rain forests to build palm oil plantations and coffee farms, a beautiful resource is quickly disappearing. With the appropriate gear and a knowledgeable travel guide, you can gaze into the beauty of the Amazon rain forests and get inspired to help keep them alive.
Galapagos Islands: The Galapagos Islands have a rich history and diverse collection of plants and animals. From giant tortoises to penguins and iguanas, a trip to the Galapagos Islands will give you the pleasure of seeing creatures in their home that most people only see at the zoo.
African Safari: Many of the animals that live on the plains of Africa are becoming endangered. Big cats, rhinoceroses and giraffes are all majestic animals that can be appreciated from afar during an African safari.
Sustainable travel can be as simple as bringing along a reusable water bottle on your next trip to the family reunion, or it can be as conscious as choosing the right travel agent for a monthlong exploration of India. Choose a travel organization like the World Wildlife Federation or International Expeditions to ensure your ecotourism adventures will have you treading lightly on these beautiful yet fragile environments.
In the end, do your research regarding the ecotourism package you’re purchasing. Make sure the health of the environment and protection of the native plants, animals and people are the most important missions that the group focuses on. Then, go into the world and enjoy its beauty while helping to preserve what you see for generations to come.