Change the Way You Travel – Visit Stunning Places and Save the Planet

Change the Way You Travel – Visit Stunning Places and Save the Planet
22 Oct 2021

Photo by Felix Rostig on Unsplash

It’s hard to avoid the news today on climate change, especially since we are all witnessing inconsistent weather every day. From snow where it never snowed to tornadoes where they were never seen before — it’s as though the planet is saying “I’m suffocating.” And how could it not?! Atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached the highest levels compared to any point in time in the 800,000 years.

Travel, especially by air, is a contributor to this issue leaving behind a carbon footprint that makes up for 2,4% of total global emissions. However, by changing the way you travel, you can still visit stunning places and save the planet. Here is how.

Traveling to local destinations

Usually, people want to travel far and see other places. But you don’t have to do that to have a wonderful experience and make lasting memories. Depending on the destination, you may still have to travel by plane, but your presence at those places can bring more benefits.

Take Utah in the USA — a favorite American destination for skiing, but it’s also a lot more than that. Camping, hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities are big profit makers here that help conservation programs and preserve public lands.

Many countries focus on motivating the local population to travel to nearby national parks as Zimbabwe and Galapagos did. Both destinations highlighted their natural treasures and offered tickets at reduced rates for locals in order to help preserve local jobs and nature reserves during the off-tourist season.

Become a responsible traveler

You can research the place you plan to visit and find out more about its efforts to protect the environment. Look for information about who owns the businesses and how the country intends to spend the money earned through tourism.

Some destinations are serious about their carbon footprint and are completely car-free with eco-friendly and sustainable accommodations, like Hamilton Island in Australia. With the Great Barrier Reef close by, you can even participate in planting the corals and helping this complex natural ecosystem.

If you travel to exotic destinations, like Thailand, don’t give money to take pictures with animals since this supports animal abuse. Instead, you can join an elephant conservation program and go to the jungle to help care for these animals.

Photo by Yanguang Lan on Unsplash

Respect the boundaries

The biggest problem to the environment from tourists is their inappropriate and irresponsible behavior. Certain destinations have strict environmental rules and even laws intended to prevent locals and foreigners from harming the environment.

For example, some countries banned single-use plastics, like Morocco, Jamaica, and New Delhi. Kenya goes as far as sentencing people to jail time or a $40,000 fine for carrying plastic bags, while Palau has a no-fishing zone the size of Spain.

During outings in the wilderness, like hikes, you should respect the path and not interact with wildlife unless allowed to. Feeding the animals can make them less scared of people and an easy target for poachers and others who can harm them.

Use social media to save the planet

Your opinion matters so use it to help destinations become more sustainable and eco-friendly. One of the ways to do it is to tell your hotel or travel agent they need to be more environmentally aware. Giving them feedback in person or via email may work, but making your concerns public may be effective in extreme cases.

However, social media is always a good choice when you have praise or want to voice your support for eco-friendly efforts on platforms with billions of users such as Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr. According to a 2020 study, social media had an impact on improving sustainable tourism in Odisha, an eastern Indian state. Temples, arts and crafts, and unique flora are some of the main attributes of this area and social media has helped to spread the word and increase tourist interest.

Tourism helps protect the environment

Let’s view it this way: tourists bring money to underdeveloped destinations they travel to and those profits can be used to improve the environment. In Rwanda, for example, the government and residents use the funds from tourism to stop poachers, preserve rainforests, and expand gorilla conservation.

Many people decide to volunteer overseas on projects, like marine conservation in Cambodia and its efforts to save the coral reefs. Participating in eco-farming in Antigua is interesting for tourists and brings not only assistance for production, but also visibility on sustainable agriculture on nut farms.

While tourists still want to relax on the beaches, they are also more interested in getting to know the cultures and nature of their destination in their integral state. Their awareness of environmental problems can help put a stop to overzealous developers who destroy natural resources.

Donate to a carbon offset program

A carbon offset program is a way for you to support carbon-reducing projects when you have to travel somewhere by plane. In a nutshell, when you are booking your flight, choose an airline that offers this kind of program, like Etihad Airways. This airline set an example by using jet fuel that was made from plants growing on beaches or salt marshes.

Most airlines offer this type of opportunity to donate and contribute to a healthier planet. But if you need to take a flight with an airline that doesn’t have this program, you can make a general offset donation. These independent-of-airlines offset programs will use these donations to lower carbon emissions by supporting renewable energy, planting trees, and investing in energy efficiency.

The bottom line

Traveling has evolved over the years with tourists’ demands changing from relaxing vacations to more active participation. This brought insight into the nature, wildlife, and cultural heritage of the destinations that are the first to suffer from the corporate world. Not only can you visit stunning places and save the planet, but also be the change behind making the world a healthier place.

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Nina Simons

Nina is a lifestyle blogger, yoga aficionado and a travel enthusiast with a distinctive taste for home decor. She's passionate about learning new things and sharing meaningful ideas. In her free time, she loves to design clothes and furniture. If you wanna see what she's up to you can find her on Twitter at @NinArtSimons.

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