With vaccinations on the rise and many parts of the world opening up again, you may be planning a very long-awaited vacation. International traveling is a great way to discover other facets of the world, immerse yourself in new cultures, and expand your horizons. Despites its countless benefits, traveling can also have downsides, especially for locals. For instance, locals have been complaining about apartment costs going up because most landlords prefer hosting travelers for short term, which is a more profitable business. How do we address these issues as travelers? Well, you can take a few steps to suppress—or at least, mitigate—your negative impact on locals and the environment.
Avoid places suffering from over-tourism. Some places like Bali, Indonesia or Machu Picchu, Ecuador are notorious for being popular tourist destinations. While this is great news for the local economy, an excess of tourists can actually cause harm: rise of housing cost, site destruction, litter… For your next trip, look for a lesser known destination that can provide you with the same experience. Trust me, you will have a better time in a less crowded destination!
Eco-friendly transportation. Rather than taking an Uber, Lyft or taxi every single day, consider public transportation (subway, bus, or bike) whenever possible. Especially for cities with efficient public transport like Hong Kong, you can get almost anywhere without a car. With proper planning, you can visit any site with minimal carbon footprint. Also, taking public transport is a great opportunity to experience the locals’ day-to-day life first-hand.
Pack zero waste utensils. Traveling certainly means that you will be often eating out and on the go. There is no better time to arm yourself with a set of reusable cutlery and water bottles, and other plastic-free, zero waste items. This conscious choice will prevent you from accidentally (or carelessly) littering the hike trail or the beach’s golden sand. After all, you would not want to deteriorate these stunning sites.
Eat local. Rather than conveniently eating from a fast-food restaurant, step out of your comfort zone and explore locally made food. It is a much better way to get acquainted with the culture and gift your taste buds with exotic flavors. In the process, you will be supporting the local economy.
Written by Kelly Jean, Class of 2021
Image Source: Pixabay