We think of sustainable travel as a movement of respectful travelers who live at the crossing of deeper travel experiences and caring for our planet and its people. This is a journey of understanding and travel decisions that aim to respect and protect the local environment, culture and economy.
These 5 sustainable travel tips are ones you can use every day…whether on your next trip or at home.
1. Remember first that you are a guest.
Come bearing respect for your host country and its people, and demonstrate this by your actions and engagement. In return, you’ll maximize the likelihood that you will be treated in kind.
2. Dress respectfully.
If in doubt, err on the side of more clothes, less skin. Not only does dressing appropriately help you fit in, but it also reduces the possibility of offending. Remember that this is their country and their home, not yours. Buying and wearing a local piece of clothing (e.g., a headscarf or an outfit in the local style) can help you fit in. It may even jumpstart a few conversations.
3. Release your inner child.
Don’t be afraid to show your curiosity when you travel. Not only does asking questions satiate your curiosity and enable you to learn more about the place you are visiting, but it offers a gateway of exchange and engagement with local people. Consider starting with simple, non-threatening topics like food, markets, and children (ages, names, etc.) and you just might find a conversation that leads to family, life, politics, and more.
4. Learn a couple words of the local language, at least.
Even if you consider yourself a foreign language lost cause, try to retain at least 4-5 key words in the local language that you can use for greeting people, niceties, and politely ordering food. The big three (hello, please and thank you) offer a good starting point. We also try to learn an oddball word that will throw people off, break a smile, and start a discussion.
5. Eat local. Stay local.
Patronize local businesses. When you travel, maximize the likelihood that local people are benefiting economically from your visit. This isn’t to say that you should avoid businesses that are foreign-owned, but try to determine whether these establishments hire local people and are invested in the local community. It’s important to point out that some foreign-owned establishments (especially smaller ones) are there because a foreigner fell in love with the place and hoped to stay and contribute.
6. Reduce your single use plastics to not leave a trail of waste in your wake.
The more we travel, the more we see how plastic and other waste — water bottles, straws, take out food containers, plastic utensils, etc. – is contaminating water sources and destroying the environment in places big and small.
With more and more travelers each year the negative impact of traveler-related waste is increasing, especially in the more remote and fragile environments. With a few small changes we collectively can reduce our plastic waste footprint considerably — not only on the road, but also at home. The Red Sea Governate has already banned most single use plastics.
Author: Audrey S - EXPSH