In my eyes, travel is one of the most important things we can do to better ourselves.
Not only do you see amazing monuments and meet colourful people, you learn different ways of overcoming issues and grow as an individual.
As a traveller, I’ve always tried to support the local community I was visiting, However, it wasn’t until I ventured to Asia did I fully see the importance of sustainable travel.
From supporting local companies that give back to the community to just making a positive impact with everyone you meet, sustainable travel is fulfilling and much easier than a lot of travellers think.
Here are 3 ways to travel more sustainably so you can change people and the environment and yourself for the better.
Book a tour with a sustainable travel company
I get it. Travel can be expensive and a sustainable tour only costs more.
But when you meet your local hiking guide or scuba diving instructor, I personally love to know they are paid a decent wage for guiding me for a day or two.
For example, during my time in northern Vietnam, I booked an overnight tour through the cascading rice terraces around SaPa. When I travelled through SaPa, only two trekking companies were known to give back to the locals in the area – SaPa O’Chau and SaPa Sisters.
I eventually settled on SaPa O’Chau and even though their guided trek was a little more expensive I was assured the extra money goes straight to the guides and owners of the homestay.
As soon as I met my guide Xuan (pronounced ‘swan’) I was so glad I knew she was getting paid well. It made me feel like a better traveller.
Xuan doubled as my homestay owner, and not only did her family cook for our small group of four hikers, a comfortable bed for a good night’s rest was provided.
If I contributed to many companies in the area that possibly pay their employees an unfair wage for guiding a trek all day, I would’ve felt terrible. Let alone interacting with her wonderful family.
Sustainable travel is incredibly important to the locals who depend on the industry to survive. However, travelling responsibly comes in many other forms.
Book a tour guide with a company that cares for the environment
Travel is amazing because it’s able to bring so many people together from different cultures and walks of life.
Learning about not only the local area but your fellow travellers as well. Protecting our environment so others can enjoy the beauty we sometimes take for granted.
Once again, Asia opened my eyes to the importance of education and action when it comes to the environment.
Growing up in Australia I always had a profound respect for the oceans and the marine life within it. When I travelled through Asia it became obvious the same environmental concerns were not present.
Education is such an important aspect of environmental protection. I saw many locals toss empty water bottles into rivers as if it were the bin.
For the most part, it’s not knowing that the plastic bottles take so long to decompose. That’s why I love supporting companies who not only educate why preservation is important but also initiate beach and ocean clean-up days.
In 2018 I visited Thailand to learn how to scuba dive, it was every bit as amazing as I hoped.
While some beaches are incredibly beautiful, with clear waters and golden sands, if you explore a little further it’s not hard to see one where all the rubbish piles up.
From hundreds of flip flops and water bottles to Styrofoam and toothbrushes. It can be hard to stomach.
After diving, my love for the water only grew and I put a decent amount of effort into researching companies that care for the ocean. I found Princess Divers on Phi Phi Island.
With great guides and stunning underwater scenery to work with, I loved diving with them. However, it was their love for protecting the water that made them my sole recommendation for diving on Phi Phi Island.
Not only do they organize a regular clean-up of the beaches in the area, but the education they provide about the ocean is also second to none.
From identifying unique marine life and how to respect their environment to choosing products, like sunscreen, that don’t negatively affect the ocean and marine life within it.
Make a positive impact with everyone you encounter
Travelling sustainably and ethical comes in many forms. Just engaging with a local or another traveller can be an easy way to enrich travel experiences.
Hanoi is one city where a simple conversation can help a local more than you might think. Every weekend, the small park around Thap Rua closes the busy streets and families flock to play games and talk.
Many young kids and university students will spark conversations with tourists to practise their English. It’s even part of some university courses to practise their English with travellers.
Not only does engaging with locals help them, but it also makes travel more fulfilling for you as you learn more about local ways of life.
Fulfilling travel doesn’t need to expensive and engaging with the locals is an amazing way to get more from your time on the road without spending a dime!
Travel is my favourite thing to do. Full stop.
Making sure you leave a positive impact on every place you visit not only helps you evolve into a more satisfied traveller, but the effect of choosing ethically-minded companies and even just interacting with locals can also create such a profound change to people and the environment.
This is why travel is such an important thing for all of us to do.
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