Can we travel more sustainably?

Can we travel more sustainably?

Đorđije A. Vasiljević (University of Novi Sad)  – 2nd of June

Illustration of a beach, flip flops, footprint, life jacket
(Copyright: Creative Commons)

Travel is all about experiences, excitement, exploration and, of course, relaxation. Tourism pushes us to explore new places and meet new people. Consequently, if we are serious about maintaining our beautiful planet, we must consider the consequences of our travels. Travelling sustainably is difficult and requires careful consideration. Not to mention the influence mass tourism has on local communities and surroundings, there is our carbon footprint and the waste we leave behind. Keeping this in mind, there are steps we can take to ensure more environmentally responsible and conscientious travel.

Having that in mind, there are certain steps we can take to ensure more environmentally conscious and responsible travel.

First of all, before you take the trip, make sure you turn off all unessential electricals at home. When at a destination, try not to produce waste as much as possible – drink water from reusable bottles, bring your own shopping bags, avoid straws, etc. Moreover, it can be difficult to dispose of waste while travelling. It is always helpful to ask a hotel or lodging facility where to properly dispose of trash and recyclables. Taking trash with you when travelling (especially in nature) until discovering a suitable disposal method is always a useful method.

Many eco-friendly travellers today take the “leave no trace” attitude even further. When leaving a location, some eco-visitors even leave it in better condition than when they arrived. This may involve nothing more than picking up some trash that was not yours and putting it in the garbage. The philosophy behind this is that travel is a privilege, so we should respect the places we visit.

Besides this, nature-based travel could have a major influence on local ecosystems. Accordingly, it is always better to stick to the marked trails as they are designed to provide hikers with the best possible routes with minimal damage to the environment. It may not seem like much, but leaving the route causes irreparable damage to the surface vegetation, animal habitats and disturbing wildlife which reflects immensely on natural processes.

What can also benefit you and the local environment is walking, especially throughout the natural areas. If distances are too far, then bring or rent a bicycle, or use public transport. This is not only eco-friendly travel but a better experience, an opportunity to meet locals and even save money! An hour-long bike ride typically covers 20 kilometres at an average speed, which is enough to find a suitable destination within a one-day tour. The general rule is that the shorter the travel distance from home, the lower the carbon footprint you will leave. Thus, local experiences, such as exploring new areas of your neighbourhood or visiting local museums, are among the greenest forms of travel. Consider travelling a few hours to a beach or forest if you would like to go a little further. Even the tiniest of journeys might feel like a lifetime away.

An additional travel suggestion to be more sustainable towards visiting local communities is to go off the season. The high season includes high prices, crowds, more strain on resources and more tension between locals and visitors. If you travel out of season, you may miss out on a few sunny days, but your destination will be considerably calmer, cheaper, and quieter, and you will be contributing to the local economy. Also, what boosts the local economy is local accommodation. Try to rent a room from locals, or even search for eco-conscious hotels or even go camping. Local stay includes eating and drinking locally which also helps the community.

Now it is your turn to travel but to “take only memories, leave only footprints”. Bon voyage!

Prof. Đorđije A. Vasiljević

Associate professor at the Chair of Geoecology, Department of Geography, Tourism and Hotel Management, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Serbia

Can we travel more sustainably?
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