This 2016, Ramadan is coming early & for the Middle East, it is officially the start of the summer holidays. Here's a few tips on how you can be a sustainable traveller :
1. Opt for the Carbon Offset
If you’re going off on an overseas adventure, your flights will inevitably account for the majority of your carbon footprint. By choosing to fork out for the carbon offset option when paying for your flights, you are actually contributing towards environmental initiatives such as reforestation and preservation of old-growth forests that help to reduce the carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere from elsewhere.
Paying that little extra to ‘offset’ the carbon dioxide can make your entire trip more climate-friendly.
2. Pack Light
Interestingly, packing only what you’ll need means your baggage will be lighter on your back and on the environment. The decision to travel with less luggage directly translates into less fuel consumption, and therefore less carbon emissions by the airplane or transport you are using.
As an additional bonus, travelling with carry-on only means less time standing at the baggage carousel (or tracking down lost suitcases), less money spent on baggage fees, and more time and money for you to spend, well travelling!
3. Travel Locally
With so many places to see across the surrounding oceans, it’s easy to forget that we live in one of the most diverse starting points for sightseeing in the world.The great thing is that exploring your own country not only gives you a better understanding of where you come from, it also benefits your local community and the environment. Travelling by train, bus or car instead of flying to your holiday destination means you’ll produce up to 50% less emissions, as well as creating local jobs and supporting local producers.
4. Choose Eco-friendly Accommodation
They’re great if you’re seeking a bit of luxury but want to stay somewhere that also gives back to its surroundings Eco-friendly accommodation can incorporate many benefits to the local environment and community. From use of renewable energy and conservation of natural habitats, to supporting organic produce and providing ‘green’ employment to locals.
5. BYO Toiletries
No matter where you stay, you can minimise your environmental impact by choosing to have your room serviced less frequently and bringing your own toiletries. When you’re preparing for a trip, check out non-toxic toiletries and cruelty free cosmetics to take with you.
6. Eat Locally Sourced Food
One of the absolute best parts of travelling to a new place is enjoying the local cuisine! You’ll have a more authentic experience, contribute to the local economy, and avoid the environmental impact of importing western food (and beer).
Concerned about the dreaded traveller’s stomach bug?
Choosing well-cooked vegetarian dishes will keep you safe and if you can see them cooking it, all the better. Wherever you are, locally sourced food prepared in a traditional way will always be fresher, taste better and (most likely) cheaper. So get in there and try something new!
7. Avoid Plastic Bottled Water
Carrying a reusable water bottle at home may be second nature but don’t forget to take it on holidays with you as well. As long as the bottle is empty you can take it on your flight and fill it up when you arrive. If you’re travelling to a country with unsafe drinking water, you can use a SteriPEN or sterilisation tablets to purify the water before drinking.
Bottled water in many countries is treated water rather than spring water so if you’re sterilising your own correctly, you’ll be getting the same water without the waste.
8. Purchase Responsible Souvenirs
Do you really want to bring home the same mass produced souvenirs everyone else seems to? Instead of stocking up on the cheap (and often very unethically produced) trinkets, consider investing in one or two unique and locally crafted souvenirs.
Even better if they’re from an eco-friendly or sustainable brand that supports artisans in the local community you’re travelling in. Being of a higher quality they’ll last longer, and if they’re useful items like clothing or homewares, you’ll appreciate them even more when you get home.
9. Minimise Plastic Bags
Typical travel essentials to bring in your day bag include a camera, guide book and water bottle. But no sustainable traveller’s day bag is complete without at least one foldable, reusable shopping tote.
10. Respect Natural and Cultural Sites
Being an ethical traveller is as much about the environment as it is about people. Get to know a bit about the local culture before you go. The last thing you want to do is to offend the locals or get yourself into trouble with the law.
Consider local dress codes, eating customs and some language basics like hello, please and thank you. If you’re going to cultural sites or into the countryside, respect any additional restrictions on dress and photos – and remember “leave only footprints and take only memories”.And when taking photos, respect other people and ask before you snap.
11. How to Handle Beggars
The level of poverty in other countries can be confronting for many of us. Although we know it exists, it’s easy to ignore until we come face to face with it.
Unfortunately, while giving money to beggars is the intuitive thing to do, there is mounting evidence that your gesture of goodwill will not necessarily help in the way you hope. Often these beggars, children in particular, are being exploited by other people and even organisations that take most of the money collected.
If you want to help the beggars directly you could try offering food rather than money. But the best way to reduce the cycle of poverty and exploitation in which they are trapped is to donate to NGOs in the country that are tackling these issues at their core.
If you like the idea of making a difference while travelling, there are a wide variety of volunteering opportunities all over the world. You could spend a week teaching English in India or two months on a lion reserve in South Africa.
Credits : Good on You