The first thing we must do is define sustainable tourism.
“What is sustainable tourism?” And why should it matter?
The truth is that as a traveler, we have a direct impact on the environment wherever we travel. Sustainable tourism is an act of conserving the environment that also effects and improves the well being of the local people. For example, ecotourism in Costa Rica owes its conservation to the efforts of tourists and conservationists. Today, more than 30% of its land is marked for conservation, as well as over 8000 square kilometers of marine protection. That’s how powerful we are! All we have to do is be more vocal about what matters and make conscious travel choices.
Sustainable tourism is also called Responsible Travel and the tips below are just a small sampling of how we can do better as travelers and also improve our overall travel experience.
Do not litter.
This may sound brutally obvious (especially looking at the photo below). However, we have to say it to make a point that litter is not only inconsiderate and unsightly, but it can be devastating to the environment including beautiful animals such as the sea turtle.
Bring your own shopping bag.
I think we already know the dangers of plastic to the environment, so this one is really easy and there are such wonderful choices out there that are super practical like these ones.
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Bring your own water bottle.
For those wondering, “what about if I’m travelling to a third world country and their water is not as pure as our North American water?” Well, first of all, that is not always the case. Secondly, you can prepare yourself for this by purchasing a water bottle with a built in filter. You can also get a light pen which will give you 100% protection of any tapwater including water you may take from a lake or a stream. Making this conscious travel change can truly be a gift for future generations.
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When you are travelling, you can take shorter showers. I know, sounds simple right? Did you know that in some luxury hotels, the average use is approximately 1800 liters?!!! Wow, we can definitely do better. As a consumer and conscious travel advocate, you can also suggest to the hotel that they put signs up for their customers to conserve water.
What does that mean? Well, let’s start with understanding and respecting cultural differences. What makes the world so interesting is its vast differences in culture. Learn it and respect it. Also, if you are traveling in a religious place, dress appropriately, notice the dress codes.
Buy locally made products and support the local economy.
Purchase local made souvenirs and eat at local restaurants. Don’t look for the nearest Subway or McDonalds (you’ve had enough of those already haven’t you?) Keep an open mind to learning about the local economies.
Don’t purchase anything from endangered animals, plants, hardwoods or ancient artifacts.
This may be obvious as travelling through customs may be tricky, not to mention that it is a very bad idea and entirely ILLEGAL. As an advocate for enjoying wildlife adventure tours, this totally defeats the purpose. We can do so much better!
Do not give to beggars.
This may be hard to do for some, however, by choosing not to support this, you reduce the idea of a “begging economy”. Also, in some parts of the world, the beggars are children who work for a crime ring that use and abuse children for this sort of work. Instead, if you want to help, give to a local charity or organization that helps those on the street.
Ok, how is this possible if there is no recycling? It can start at your hotel. Ask them if they have a recycling program! If not, encourage them to start one! You are the consumer and your voice matters! The more we speak out, the more likely they are to implement these changes.
Bring a solar charger for your electronic devices.
Yes, the technology is out there. Turn the sun into your regular charger. And it is very convenient to have power where there might not be any, like in the middle of the rainforest.
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Use alternative transportation.
Granted, in a foreign country this can be challenging. However, do your best to walk, bike or use public transportation, it cuts down on gas usage and saves money.
Avoid souvenir photos of exploiting wildlife.
This just hurts everyone in the end and you potentially support groups that illegally capture, transport and abuse animals. Not good. Research ahead of time any activity that has to do with animals. A great example of this I learned recently about a famous so called sanctuary in Costa Rica for sloths. I was considering it as one of my go-to places in the near future. That was, until I learned that most of the sloths are crammed in tiny little cages, as witnessed by veterinarians who worked there temporarily. Keep in mind that not all sanctuaries are the same.
Learn a little bit of the language.
Ok, so you don’t need to learn the entire dictionary. Just learning a few words like “please”, “thank you” and “My name is…” can do absolute wonders for you. People feel appreciated by those who take the time to learn their culture and are more likely to want to help you. You can download language apps directly to your phone!
Conscious and sustainable tourism development is available to us. That’s why at TaoWander we like to promote the best wildlife tours available. If you are considering health and wellness and natural healing retreat options, please consider all the above as well. We can make a difference by every small step we make towards a healthier environment.