Travelling has always been an enviable hobby of many. In recent years, as more people are working independently from remote regions, many drop-dead gorgeous destinations circulate the Internet in mere hours. However, as beautiful travel images are shared online, more tourists then visit these, once private, hidden gems around the globe.
Some places, like Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, are considering limiting tourists as the number of visitors went from a few thousand annually to 100,000 in 2010 – the year Instagram was launched – to 750,000 in 2015. Other places, like the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in Iceland, temporarily closed their ‘doors’ after Justin Bieber shot a music video there and tourists rushed to the spot, damaging vegetation and leaving behind litter.
As our world becomes increasingly more digital, it’s easier to share and receive gorgeous photographs of black sand beaches, underwater caves and ancient cities. Online awareness and travel inspo is great, but it’s also important to help protect what we see so that others will be able to visit and appreciate it as well. Through small, simple changes to your travel plans and daily habits, you can help preserve our earth to the best of your ability.
Here are three ways to help make you a more sustainable traveller next time you decide to go on an adventure:
1. Support Local Businesses
One of our favourite parts of travelling is interacting with the locals, learning about their culture and supporting their businesses. There are so many countries, families and communities that rely heavily on tourism to make ends meet and being mindful of the people and businesses you support on your travels helps keep their culture and traditions alive and thriving.
Whether it’s dining at family-owned restaurants and markets, shopping for hand-made souvenirs, choosing local guides, joining volunteer projects or participating in authentic local excursions and experiences, your trip is destined to be more meaningful, and have a bigger effect on the communities you visit when you go local. It’s also always important to be respectful of local laws and traditions, tip when appropriate and compensate locals fairly for their services.
2. Water, Water, Water
We are so used to clean drinking water in Canada, it is often shocking to see garbage cans in faraway destinations overflowing with water bottles used by travellers. Instead of buying bottled water the entire time you’re away, try some of these ways to stay healthy and hydrated while also reducing your single-use plastic waste.
- Always bring a reusable water bottle. These can take up a bit of space but they’re worth it for both your health and the environment.
- If necessary, opt for bottles that come with built-in water filters such as the new Contiki Water Bottle. Other options include using water purifying tablets, a portable water purifier like the SteriPEN, or a filter system like the Lifestraw. These all allow you to drink water safely when you travel and will keep you and your stomach happy all trip long.
- Ask for a filtered water refill at your restaurant or hotel. These places are used to tourists and usually will be able to provide clean water for you to drink.
3. Travel Light
People always say ‘travel light’, but what does that really mean? Important items to you may be insignificant to another. Write a list of all the things you think you need and the function they’ll serve while you’re away. Try to bring items that are specifically made for travelling – they tend to be compact and lighter in weight, so they’re easy to pack and are reusable.
- When possible, bring things that have multiple functions rather than one tool for every function.
- Bring along a metal or silicone straw so that you can say ‘no thanks’ to vendors when you’re buying your next street iced coffee or cold G+T on the beach.
- Pack a set of reusable utensils to keep in your travel bag or purse at all times. This helps reduce waste and ensures that you know they are clean and washed after each use.
- Bring an e-reader rather than a book to entertain yourself. Not only will you reduce weight in your bag, but you will have access to several books instead of just one.
Whether you’ve got a trip planned next week or you’re just jonesing for vacation, these tips are here to get the ball rolling when it comes to sustainable travel. Why not help preserve the beautiful, natural environments that you’re going to visit so that others can enjoy them for centuries as well?
If you’re ready to head out and explore the great, big world ASAP, Contiki always has great last minute deals for those looking for a spontaneous break from their regular 9-5 life. Dying to have one of those travel-free Instagram feeds instead of living vicariously through others? This is your chance. Visit the Contiki website above for all last-minute deals!
Kelsey is the Editorial & Events Manager for Date Night. Monday-Friday she works as an independent Marketing & Communications Contractor, providing writing, editing and digital marketing services for small businesses here in YYC. When she’s not busy writing about our city, you can usually find her trying the newest fitness studio, exploring the Rockies or chasing the sun – whether here in AB or halfway across the world.