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Touring and exploring

Sustainable Travel Tips

The Hayes and Jarvis Blog Team May 8, 2014

Have you ever wondered what you could do to be a little more sustainable on your next holiday?

 
With the world and travel industry becoming wiser to their impact on the environment and communities, we thought we’d share the wealth and offer you a few suggestions for your next trip. 
 
As a responsible tourist, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the destination you’re going to, be aware of the impact you could be having on the community and environment around you and attempt to minimise those effects.
 
Whether you’re going to a rural setting in a less developed part of the world or a highly developed urbanised centre, these suggestions are easy to do and can make that all important difference to the world.
 
- Learn about the current environmental issues already affecting the destination you are visiting. Each country will have different situations based on their own eco-systems; this could be the effects of mass tourism on beaches, wetlands, mountains and deserts. Seek your own ways to counteract these effects or at least try not to add to them.
- Learn about the destination you are travelling to, for example, its political situation, events, history, culture, geography, cuisine and transportation etc. Learn a few basic phrases like how people greet one another and say goodbye. Body language is also key so adapt yours if needs be. Respect local customs and taboos - it’s only polite, which includes the local dress code, especially around religious areas.
- Check how sustainable your destination is; environmental conservation, human rights record and commitment to peace. Failing that – pick up a travel guide and do a little research.
- Always stay in accommodation that is labelled as sustainable. This can mean using alternative forms of energy or practice recycling. Some will be owned by or employ locals or contribute to local causes. Always look for a certification system wherever you book that’ll inform you or inquire with the local tourist board. 
- Go where the locals go. Don’t just follow a travel guide rigidly but do use discretion when it comes to people’s property and spaces; this extends to hiring local guides too.
- If you’re visiting a community that faces water shortages, then use it sparingly. Perhaps take a quicker shower?
- Carry a re-useable water bottle, fill up where you know the water is safe and don’t keep buying new bottles. Or why not bring your own purification tablets? You can pick these up from most outdoor activity shops.
- Save electricity where you are staying. Turn off air conditioners, lights and heaters when they’re not needed.
- Use public transport where possible or walk. Take a bus, train, tram, bike or monorail and experience what the locals would use. 
- Don’t litter anywhere. Simple as that – you wouldn’t do it here so why do it abroad.
- Don’t disturb local wildlife. Stay at a proper distance at all times, don’t create noise that isn’t needed and respect the animal’s habitat.
- Buy and eat local. Don’t just head to a chain store because it’s what you know, stop by a street market and you may just find something that is a little tastier. You’ll find most local foods are actually more organic. 
- Don’t take natural resources from the surroundings like plants, animal bones and shells etc.
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Always try to use less, recycle if the country accommodates it and, if not, find new uses for old products or items.
- Make sure you have the necessary permits if you’re camping. Follow park rules and bring home what you take there. Stay on trails too if they are designated so you don’t do future harm to the surroundings.
- Don’t buy illegal products. These could be made from endangered species or valuable, cultural or historical artefacts. Enquire where the product came from and report incidences that you think are suspicious.
- Careful with your camera use. Take time to actually look at your surroundings; don’t just see them through a lens. Always ask the locals if they mind being in a picture or two. 
- Bring gifts or contribute if you know you are visiting a specific family or community that may appreciate them. Likewise if you are going somewhere where you could potentially volunteer.