Sustainable travel and why should we adapt it if we love to travel?
Everyday, people around me talks about how much they love to travel…
Ofcourse followed by the question: “Where should I go to… ”
I understand the love we all have to explore unchartered places.
I also understand that travel to most, is a form of escapism.
I do. But what about being a sustainable traveler?
Being a ‘traveler’ has lost its’ true meaning… just like being a ‘Yogi’ (to some). Today, it is more about showing off to the world where you have been (or how many downward-dogs you can do in overly-priced clothing) and less about truly helping the country you step foot on and the earth that you claim you love so much.
This needs to change.
You, dear traveler, have a huge role once you label yourself a travel lover or a traveler.
Your role is not only to preserve the earth but to educate yourself and everyone around you on how to ‘travel sustainable’. Meaning, finding ways that tourism can be maintained long-term without harming natural and cultural environments by your presence there.
You, a traveler, need to be more aware of pollution levels caused by travel and how that affects the environment and local wildlife. You need to educate yourself more on how you, unintentionally, are feeding the poverty cycle and harming our marine life.
Let us, together, discover ways to be a sustainable traveler in order to preserve the places we fall in love with.
USE LESS PLASTIC
It’s only in the last couple of decades that tourism has truly exploded. More people around the world have disposable income and an interest in travel today than ever before. This is putting a strain on the tourism industry as a whole – and especially on the most popular destinations for example: The Maldives. Plastic kills our fish, our turtles, our dolphins and whales… When animals eat these plastic pieces, the toxins are absorbed into their body and passed up the food chain. As plastics break apart in the ocean, they also release potentially toxic chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), which can then enter the food web. Think about that the next time you are eating fish! Turtles for instant, eat jellyfish, a floating plastic bag in the ocean from far is mistaken for food and kills the turtle when it attempts to swallow it.
You can use less plastic by:
- Buying less plastic bags, less straws (Yes – straws), less plastic bottles (carry your own re-usable bottle), plastic plates
- Use your own fork and knife if you love street food and avoid using plastic cutleries
RESEARCH YOUR TOUR AGENCY
Let us NOT partake in the suffering of one of the world’s most sentient species for the sake of an insta-worthy shot that is bound to get you hundreds of likes. Because a selfie is not worth a lifetime of dying dolphins, elephants or lions.
Is it not?
An extremely important point in which I can’t begin to explain the number of times I come across tour agency that promote unsustainable travel and promoting negative animal tourism. You should not be supporting tour or travel agencies (or any brand) that promotes any sort of abuse towards animals. Today, more than three dozen companies, including Costco Travel and TripAdvisor, refuse to offer elephant rides! To train baby elephants to be subservient in the tourism industry, they’re often forcibly separated from their mothers, tied down and immobilized with ropes, and beaten mercilessly, sometimes for days on end. Say NO to riding elephants, say No to buying Ivory, say NO to taking selfies with lions or tigers or any animals placed under drugs or not in their natural habitat and say NO to zoos!
EDUCATE YOURSELF MORE
I pledged to educate myself, my family, and my friends based on my experiences and my knowledge of responsible travel, and to talk to other experienced travellers in an effort to learn more about the world and sustainable best practice.
It’s not enough to pick a responsible vacation yourself, but as you see the very real and immediate need for sustainable travel solutions, you must educate others — your friends, family, neighbors — about how they can make responsible tourism choices.
I beg you, google, read, watch videos, ask questions,learn and educate yourself. When a question about a certain topic pops up, or when someone disputes what you say, research the possibilities. Watch movies and documentaries. When something sparks your interest, read about it. Stimulate the brain and educate that beautiful mind of yours.
BREAK THE POVERTY CYCLE
I was 21, I was walking out of AUB (American University in Beirut) and into a local sandwich deli and had a quick bite before my next summer class. I couldn’t finish my sandwich, I remember rushing through it. The streets of Beirut are notorious for beggars and mostly children. My parents had brought me up my teaching me the ways to break the poverty cycle since we have been involved in a lot of charity travel programs at a very young age. “Education is the ONLY way you can break the poverty cycle when you travel” My mother use to say.
As I walked out of the deli shop, a boy, not more than 8 years old approached me asking for money. I instead offered him my take-way sandwich and bought him a bottle of water and rushed back into class.
A day later, a classmate, (thinking she was better than me), started a rumor on how she saw me giving the 8 year old food instead of money, calling me selfish, cheap and making fun of my choices and why, instead of giving the poor boy money, I gave him food and water. It broke me down of course at first, but little did she know!! I was not trying to impress her or anyone, and tried my best to pay no attention to her mockery. I moved on and stayed silent, I let her judge my decision so ignorantly.
Today, I wished I was brave enough to have turned back and educated her towards my actions, but maybe that would have only resulted in further ignorance from her side and perhaps, she would have not even cared.
It might come to you as a surprise but by giving money to children on the streets, we are often funding people that are forcing those kids to beg in the first place. Giving that boy $10 might be among the most destructive things you could ever do.
Tourists should never give money to child beggars we meet abroad. Not even the cute ones. Not even the disabled ones. Not even the ones who want money for school. Don’t give them money, or candy, or pens. It’s not generous. In fact, it’s one of the most harmful—and selfish—things a well-meaning tourist can do. we perpetuate a cycle of poverty and give children a strong incentive to stay out of school.
In India, roughly 60,000 children disappear each year, according to official statistics. (Some human rights groups estimate that the actual number is much higher than that.) Many of these children are kidnapped and forced to work as beggars for organized, mafia-like criminal groups. According to UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, and the U.S. State Department, these children aren’t allowed to keep their earnings or go to school, and are often starved so that they will look gaunt and cry, thereby eliciting more sympathy—and donations—from tourists.
NEVER BUY WILDLIFE SOUVENIRS
Trafficking rate and endangered wildlife products as souvenirs… Just say No!
Seashells, coral necklaces, Ivory ( How Rhinos are dying because of us), dried starfish, fur, elephant’s tooth, Shark’s tooth, Turtle’s shell… ANYTHING related to any animal… Just say NO and full stop! Educate yourself on where the product came from!
SUPPORT LOCAL COMMUNITIES
A real traveler always gives back local communities and still have fun doing so. By supporting local communities, adventurous travelers can immerse themselves in the local culture in a meaningful way. And the experience becomes more unique. Other than supporting a local charity or school and even volunteering in a program in a country you always dreamed of visiting, you can also support the local community buy buying locally made products.
Dig a little deeper.
There is much more than just visiting the beaches and bars.
CHOOSE GREEN HOTELS
From time to time, learn to differentiate between sustainable hotels and non-sustainable hotels. Choose a hotel that values sustainable travel and recycling. Sustainable travel is also about supporting the hotels that cares for the environment, works with locals and supports the community. There are plenty of hotels in 2017-2018 that has turned green and you should support them! An example in Maldives is Gili Lankanfushi. In Kenya, Segera Retreat, Whitepod in Switzerland, Beit Douma in Lebanon and the opening of three five-star eco-luxury resorts – Soneva Jani, Nekupe Sporting Resort & Retreat, and Alila Anji – is fuelling a growing trend in sustainable luxury travel.
Let us take a moment to appreciate the world we live in, the world we decide to explore. As a traveler and a lover of life, it is my sole duty to help and educate those around me with the best information I have for a better world. Today, sustainable travel is changing the way the hospitality industry is built on, in a positive way, yet we still have a lot to do. We still need to support those who are putting the effort into creating a sustainable lifestyle and stay for us and the community around us and it is all thanks to us, to you, those who travel well. Share the post if you feel you learned a thing or two about sustainable travel.