We live in an era where the world is so accessible and affordable. But with great power comes great responsibility. Our ability to travel with (relative) ease to all corners of the Earth has placed great strain on local communities and resources. Tourists are often ignorant to the damage going on behind the scenes when they visit far off, exotic destinations.
I urge you to go out and see the world and all the beauty it has to offer, however, be mindful of the impact you are having - leave with nothing but memories (and a tan) is my mantra!
Travel with purpose
It is easy to jump on a plane and go lie on a beach for a couple of weeks, but you can make your travel more purposeful and fulfilling. After my first year of university I volunteered for two weeks in the Costa Rican jungle, researching tree frogs and dolphins. I learned so much about the interconnectivity of the world (who knew of the connection between dolphins and tree frogs!?). There is no better way to see a country's culture and the best it has to offer. After those two weeks I spent a further two weeks exploring the country. I would not be able to take this much time off now (gone are those student days...) but you can still obtain this same experience.
Organisations like The Conservation Guide allow you to easily search and book conservation projects around the world. To help you decide, check out the reviews left my previous volunteers.
Sustainable tourist travel tips
1. Carry your own eco travel kit
When I go abroad I always take my collapsible water bottle, stainless steel straw, bamboo spork/cutlery and canvas bag. You can drink the water in most places nowadays. Check tourist reviews if you can drink the water - for example, whilst it is not recommended to drink the water in Croatia, the water is some of the best I've ever tasted - fresh from mountain springs. Get used to saying "no straw please" and "no plastic bag please". Many people (ahem in America) are not yet accustomed to refusing single use plastic
2. Take all your rubbish with you
Tourist pollution causes irreparable damage to local ecosystems, killing wildlife and destroying their environment. Not to mention it is unsightly for other travellers and more importantly this is someone else's home you are visiting.
3. If you can touch an animal there's probably something dodgy going on
Under no circumstances ever touch a wild animal. Not only can this be threatening but we have microbes and bacteria on our hands that may be harmful to them. If you are approached to have a picture/touch an exotic animal, politely decline. In rare cases, wildlife centres may be home to animals who can never return to the wild and have befriended humans - if you can across one of these places always let the animal come to you.
4. Live consciously
Turn off lights, use a fan instead of air conditioning, don't leave water running and opt for cold showers. Water and energy are precious commodities overseas, which we often forget as they are typically treated as unlimited resources in the Western world.
5. Carry a guppy friend as a laundry bag
The guppy friend catches micro plastics when your clothes are in a washing machine - one of the ways that plastics find their way into our water systems and the ocean. Using a guppy friend as a laundry bag is convenient and marine friendly.
The Travel Blog
We would love to see what sustainable travel practices you have discovered or just all the beautiful places near and far you are exploring right now - tag us @wildenest using #wilde4theworld