With summer on the way, students, faculty, and staff are frequently looking to travel! Ecotourism is a great traveling alternative, but if that is not a good fit, travelers can enact ways to be sustainable themselves on their journeys. However, being sustainable abroad does not just encompass being environmentally sound, but also encompasses the social and economic components of traveling, aspects that are often overlooked when considering travel’s impact on local communities. Below are some tips of being sustainable in all three aspects when adventuring nationally or abroad!
Enjoy Social/ Cultural Environment
- Do research on your destination prior to arrival; learn about its history, politics, cultural groups, customs, cuisine, and taboos so that you are well versed in the country and can tailor your stay to this information.
- Learn the language, body and oral. Even just familiarizing yourself with greeting phrases or knowing appropriate gestures can be helpful tools to both your adaptation in an area as well as the host’s adaptation to you.
- Find out the local dress code and enact it accordingly to show respect.
- Do not simply just take photos of locals. Engage with them first and afterwards, ask them about their comfort in having their photograph taken.
- Find out where the locals go. Stray from guidebooks, and use interactions with locals to guide you in your travels.
- If you know you are staying with a host family, bring them a small gift to thank them for your stay.
Be Aware of the Economic Impact
- Consult the Ethical Traveler to get informed about their sustainability practices, human rights interactions, and economic situations before making a commitment to support tourism in that area.
- Try to support locally owned institutions like eating out at local restaurants, which satisfies you as a tourist and also boosts the local economy.
- If you are staying for a bit while abroad, find out about local organizations in the area that you can volunteer at, even if it is just for a day! This way you contribute more than just money to the places you stay.
Be Considerate Environmentally
- Use water sparingly, as water supplies and costs vary in different communities. Check out this water calculator from H2O Conserve to find out how much water you use now. Carry a reusable water bottle for areas where tap water is safe to help cut down on waste from plastic water bottles.
- When leaving stay location, remember to shut out the lights and unplug appliances and technologies you employed.
- Because many countries have different recycling systems, if any at all, think of wasteful packaging before you purchase goods.
- You can still buy and eat local while traveling! Research and explore to find local, safe markets and street vendors where you can buy produce or food items native to the area. (Bring a reusable bag for your adventures!)
- Be considerate of your actions amidst wildlife and ecosystems. Using motorized equipment and removing objects like plants or shells from their environment can disturb those natural systems.
Main Source: Sustainability Abroad
Written by Julie Elliot, Class of 2015
Follow Travel…..United States of America, a partial landscape view of the Grand Canyon during sunrise….probably my most desired and long awaited trip of my life
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