Wednesday 22 May 2013

25 ways to tread lightly when you travel

Last weekend my latest story for The Sydney Morning Herald made it onto the cover of the travel section - which felt like a coup for responsible travel because it's about 25 ways to travel with a conscience. 

My dream is that one day there'll be no such thing as "sustainable travel" or "eco travel" - because low-impact travel will be the norm. Until then, read on for ideas on how we can all minimise our travel footprints...

Tip #5: Buy locally made souvenirs
Think big, start small
Not so long ago, responsible travel meant taking only photographs and leaving only footprints. 

Then came ecotourism, ethical travel, voluntourism and sustainability measures introduced by just about every player in the travel game from airlines to cruise ships to high-end resorts. Now travelling responsibly is more broadly defined than ever.

Don't be put off by the killjoy term "responsible". It's all about being sensitive to your surroundings, remembering that everything is connected and making choices to travel in ways that are environmentally, socially, culturally and economically sustainable.

As Linda McCormick, the Melbourne-based founder of one of the world's first ecotravel blogs, Eco Traveller Guide, puts it, minimising your footprint when you travel "doesn't necessarily mean never flying, sacrificing luxury or volunteering during your holiday; just travelling with a different attitude and looking at how your travels impact this well-trodden world".

Tip #24: Travel under your own steam
And let's not forget that tourism can have positive impacts by, for instance, supporting developing economies and generating funds to protect threatened species and pristine places.

There are hundreds of ways to make your travel make a difference without adversely affecting the natural wonders we want to experience, the people and cultures that change our world views, the wild animals we safari to see. 

It starts with respecting the environment and people we're visiting, and supporting organisations (whether they be hotels, tour operators or transport providers) that do the same. Beyond that, here are 25 tips to help you tread lightly on your next trip. 

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