This is our second blog about sustainable travel. In the first blog we wrote about what we should think about before we leave for our travel, now it is time to look at the things we can do when we are out seeing the world.
When you finally arrive at your destination, we are sure you will have a great time exploring, relaxing, shopping and eating! There are many things you can do to make your travel more sustainable. Here is our list of the things that can be good to keep in mind.
Use of resources
Many people in the world does not have accessibility to clean water, or water at all. In some cities there are water restrictions where the water can be shut, sometimes for days at a time, to save this valuable resource. As a tourist you have a privilege – the ability to experience someone else’s reality. Then it is important to take the precautions the locals do, so that we as tourists do not add an extra burden on the community. Always do research regarding water restrictions before visiting a new place!
Take shorter showers
An easy way to save water and energy is taking shorter showers. There is no need for long showers, especially not when you are staying at a hostel where it is often a line for the shower. This helps the environment, gives you more time to enjoy the area you are in (instead of looking into a bathroom-wall) and saves energy.
Return maps, brochures and other travel info
When leaving a place, most of us will not take home the travel info and brochures gotten during our stay. Because who want to drag around lots of unnecessary paper? This means that lots of travel info will be used only once (if you used it at all), before we throw it when we leave a place. A good idea is to return maps, brochures and other travel info. This way other travellers can enjoy the material and it will last longer. The best thing, you save energy and paper.
Hang up your towel – a sign that you want to use it again
How often do you change your towel at home? Most likely not every day. This is not necessary to do when travelling either. Hang up your towel signalising that you want to use it for another day.
Save energy, by turning electric appliances off
Energy is expensive and needs natural resources to be produced. It is therefore important that you use minimal of this scarce resource that not everyone in the world is as lucky as us to have. Always turn off the light and/or air-condition when leaving your room. There is no need of lighting up your room for the birds outside the window, so you might as well save the energy for something better.
Say no to single-use plastic
On travels you would like to eat, that’s a necessity. However, it might entail using lots of single-use plastic. We as both consumers and tourist have the power to change this. You can raise the issue of single-use plastic in a positive way and put more focus on it. Some ways to decrease your single-used consumption is to bring your own travel cutlery and straw (or not use a straw at all). Many zero-waste shops are now selling cutlery travel kits. You can also ask the staff if it is possible to get washable cutlery instead of single-used plastic. Last resort is to use the single-used plastic cutlery one more time. We as the consumers need to increase the demand for more sustainable cutlery. This way the stores, overnight places and restaurant will follow!
Take with you used shampoo, soap and toothpaste in smaller bottles or ask to make a “left bottles shelf” at your hostel
Many people leave their shampoo and soaps when leaving a place. It takes extra space and weighs quite a bit. However, this is a waste of perfectly fine soaps. Either you prepare for this in advance and bring smaller bottles, or you can ask the hostel to have a shelf for “left shampoo” for other guests to use.
When travelling, most of us does a bit of shopping. If it is essentials or souvenirs for remembering the trip. This is often good income for the places tourists visits. It is therefore important to keep a few things in mind if you want your travel to be more sustainable.
Bring your own reusable bag when shopping
The world in general has a huge problem with plastic bags being spread all over cities and the nature. Do your part in solving this problem and bring a reusable bag when you go shopping. In many places the plastic bags hold very little and is of poor quality. Meaning you can go out from the store with a bundle of bags. Always having a reusable bag at hand could help a lot.
Use public transportation and do your sightseeing by foot or by bike
Public transport is one of the best ways to get around in cities. It is quicker, more sustainable and a good way to get some free sightseeing while on the way to your destination. It is worth asking at your accommodation how you best can get around with public transport. Walking or biking is also a great way to get to know a place. You get fresh air, exercise and the best, it’s free. But remember to be careful, it’s not all places you can just take a stroll wherever you like. It’s always a good idea to ask at your accommodation if there are areas you should avoid and at what times. In many larger cities you will also find Walking Tours, this is a great way to learn about the city you are in, and some of them are also free!
Honour local customs
Different countries and places have different customs and traditions. It is important to research this in advance. Talk to the locals, ask questions and show interest. This way you will not step on any toes and people will think of you as an open-minded tourist.
Ask before taking a picture of someone
There are so many cool things and people to take pictures of when you are discovering new places. However, not everyone wants to have their picture taken. No matter how cool their costumes are you have to respect people’s privacy.
Buy locally-made products
Keeping it local is always good. Did you see a local shop selling homegrown coffee beans or a lady knitting a sweater? Maybe these are the things you should bring home with you. Buying yet another sweater from H&M will not make you remember the place. However, paying a bit extra but getting a locally made sweater will. Markets are perfect places to find locally-made products! It’s always exciting to walk around, trying food and seeing products from the area you are in. A good tip is to talk to the sellers and ask about their products, most of them will gladly tell you about their business and where the products are from.
Hiking is often a big part of your trip and is a good and sustainable way to see new places. However, it is important to show respect for the environment. Some easy steps to ensure you do this is to:
Stick to the path
Always follow the marked path. Not only is it the safest passage, it is also a way to reduce the harm on native flora and fauna. Usually a path has been made both to make it safer for people to walk there, but also to ensure that the environment is taken care of in a good manner. It is especially important to be careful when you walk in areas that are protected such as National Parks. In these areas you will often find threatened species of plants and animals, that we don’t want to disturb. If you are walking with a guide, it can be a good idea to ask about the area and how you should behave.
Never touch or feed any wildlife
Wild animals are wild animals, and however cute and fluffy some of them are they need to be respected. Admiring them on a safe distance is better for everyone. It is about ensuring your safety along with the animal.
NEVER take a selfie with a WILD animal
Wild life is, exactly that, WILD! Which makes it not okay for you to interact with them from anywhere than from a far distance. Be very aware of your impact on the wildlife at your destination. Do not walk with lions, hold koalas or pay a charmer to entertain you with a snake. These animals are not happy animals and when you pay for these services you promote a very unsustainable industry. Rather promote the good way of seeing wildlife, in the wild, from a distance. There are several great tour operators that use wildlife tourism to create awareness around the importance of preserving it.
Pick waste while hiking
Bring along a small bag and pick up any trash you spot along your hike. Sadly, many people discard of waste while walking in the nature. If you remove this waste, you do both you and the nature a big favour. To make it fun, why not make it a competition with your friends on who picks up the most waste.
Do not litter
You would think it’s unnecessary in 2019 to still have to say; “do not litter.” However, it is sadly still necessary. Never leave a place without looking if you have forgotten anything. Another thing to remember is to properly discard of it. Is the waste-bin full? Maybe go to the next one and throw it there. Then you have done your part for the waste to not be taken by the wind or animals.
Written by: Hanna Jacobsen and Eirin Heddeland
Keep following our updates here on the blog, to hear more stories and ideas about sustainability in Brazil and in Norway!