(ENG only) Last week I have attended the second edition of the Berlin Travel Festival, a beautiful weekend event dedicated to all things travel related. Travelers sharing their stories, brands and exhibitors, travel lovers and like minded people to connect and talk to and also a focus on sustainability, which is what I love about the event. Visitors can bring their own reusables, get in touch with ethical sustainable brands that do good and learn more about responsible travel.
One of my goals for the year is to really make an effort when traveling to really lower my environmental impact, by being more mindful about my actions and especially by trying to travel less by plane, as plane travels are unfortunately a big source of CO2 emissions (you can learn more about my tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint and your environmental impact here).
Inspired by the Travel Festival, I am sharing with you 10 easy tips to help you make your travels more sustainable and responsible.
- REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. No matter where you’re headed to, try to bring a little bit of Zero Waste mindset on your travels.
– Refuse single use plastic and unnecessary packagings or bags, freebies, maps and brochures etc.
– Reduce what you consume and produce.
– Bring your own reusables: even a simple thing like bringing your own water bottle to refill, cotton bag to avoid the plastic ones and/or coffee cup for your drinks on the go can help immensely. Some countries might not even be able to manage or recycle huge amounts of waste, so as travelers coming from more fortunate countries, I feel like it is our responsibility to reduce our waste as much as possible when traveling. When we have the chance and the privilege to make a choice for the better, why not making it?
– Recycle what can be recycled by separating correctly the waste that you do create.
- FLY LESS. Like I mentioned above, plane is unfortunately a big contributor when it comes to carbon footprint. If you can, prefer other forms of travel. Whatever the type of transportation you choose, offset your travel to compensate for those CO2 emissions. If you do fly, stay as long as you can at your destination. And when you’re on site, remember that walking or moving using the public transit system is not only a great way to reduce your impact, but also a wonderful way to experience a more authentic, true local life. If you can’t avoid plane, you can always offset to conterbalance those emissions.
- GO OFF THE BEATEN PATH. When visiting someplace new, I know that it’s easy to be attracted by the most important and famous sightseeing sites. However, going off the beaten path and trying to discover unknown or less touristy places and sites will avoid overcrowded situations, especially in places that are protected.
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT ACCOMMODATION. If bio hotels are not in your budget (they can be quite expensive), you can choose to support more the local community by sleeping at their places (couch-surfing, Airbnb, house sitting just to name a few) or camping, if and when possible. Staying in big hotel chains won’t help the local economy as the money won’t really stay in that country. Eco hostels are also a great alternative if you’re an adventurer and don’t mind sharing your room with other like minded travelers.
- EAT LOCAL. Do you really need to eat Italian in Indonesia or sushi in Mexico? Discovering new food and flavors is one of the things I love most about traveling. Choose small restaurants that offer local cuisine, hit the local markets or ask locals you meet along the way what’s their favorite spot to have a meal out. You’ll be surprised by what you can find 😉
- SHOP LOCAL. If you’re buying a souvenir to bring back home for you or a loved one, choose to support small businesses by purchasing unique locally made pieces instead of mass-produced items made elsewhere.
- RESPECT NATURE AND LEAVE NO TRACES. Behave responsibly and show respect to the nature, the animals and the people of the country you’re visiting. Do not throw cigarette butts on the beach or trash outside of the trash cans, do not disturb animals with loud noises or untimely behavior, be kind to and respectful of the surrounding environment. Pick up the trash you find on your path (even a just one or few pieces of trash help immensely). During my week on Bingin Beach in Bali last October, I did 30-40 minutes of beach clean ups every day. I did something very good for that small beach and its wildlife and I could still get my dose of vitamin D like I wanted.
- DON’T WASTE RESOURCES. Don’t take 20-minute-long showers, especially if you’re visiting a country that due to various conditions is experiencing water shortage. If you’re eating out and won’t be able to eat your entire meal up, ask for a doggy bag and eat the leftovers later. These are just two simple examples of how to be more mindful and not to waste precious resources.
- PACK LIGHT. Regardless of how you decide to travel, the bigger and heavier your bag or luggage is, the more fuel is going to be required to carry it. Do not overpack, stick to just the things you need. Not only this is beneficial for the environment but also for you and your overall travel experience: packing and traveling light changed my whole perspective as a traveler and really improved the whole experience, as I realized that what I bring with me on my travels or what I bring back from my travels is not what I should be focused about when I go somewhere.
- BE A KIND TRAVELER. Don’t be just a tourist. Treat the place you’re visiting like it was your own. If there is one thing we all have in common, it’s this planet. Be kind to your surroundings and be mindful about your actions.
Traveling sustainably doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun or not enjoy/enjoy less your travels. It just means traveling with a conscious, respectful mindset.