How to become a more conscious traveller (and why it matters)
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How good is travel? Whether it’s a four-hour road tip to a rural city, or a five-week European adventure, there’s a special buzz you get from exploring new places, meeting new people and experiencing new things.
It’s amazing how accessible travel is today (COVID aside). However, an increased number of global travellers has its downside.
Over the last couple of years the term “conscious travel” has become somewhat of a “buzz” term. It’s a simple concept that can be integrated into any type of trip to counteract the impacts of overtourism on the planet.
What is conscious travel?
Conscious travel means to travel with an awareness of how you impact the local community and the environment.
It’s about being mindful and considerate of the world and its people as you travel – being more eco-friendly and kind in the places you visit. Put simply, conscious travel is travelling responsibly.
In fact, you might be practicing conscious travel habits already without noticing it!
Why is it important to travel consciously?
As travellers, it’s out responsibility that while we explore the globe, we do so in a way that doesn’t harm the planet or local communities.Nomadic Matt
It benefits the local community
It goes without saying that supporting local traders, guides and attractions over chain stores and hotels means more money straight back into the local community.
Reduces waste and environmental footprint
More travellers often results in an increase in pollution and trash. This means places that were once pristine are now littered with garbage. Overtourism has become a concern in cities such as Rome, Amsterdam and Barcelona happens when an influx of tourists overwhelm a destination and make tourism unsustainable.
To realise the positive power of travel, we all need to bring thought and awareness to where we go, what we do and how we leave a place when we visit it.
Gives you a greater understanding of your destination and its culture
Conscious travel encourages a deeper understanding of people and place. Interacting with locals, actively seeking out independently-run stores or choosing an activity a little less “mainstream” will give you a more authentic experience and allows you to fully immerse yourself in local culture.
You’ll appreciate your trip more
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of exploring a foreign city. Especially if you’re only there for a few days. When you slow down and take the time to soak up your experiences and surroundings, you’ll truly appreciate and be grateful for your visit. You might even notice things, people or places you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
14 things you can you do to be a more conscious traveller
So, how do you become a conscious traveller? Here are a few things to keep in mind on your next trip.
Don’t get too overwhelmed by this list! Being aware of where your money is going and the impact your visit has on a culture is already several steps in the right direction.
- Take the time to research sustainable, eco-friendly accommodation options. Extra points if they are vegan-friendly!
- On that note, if you’re not already vegan, eat plant-based when possible. There are plenty of apps to help you find veg-friendly restaurants.
- Pack plastic-free and reusable products. Here are some ideas.
- Research and understand the local customs, manners and basic phrases before you go.
- Purchase the carbon offsets for flights.
- Go paperless: use electronic tickets and itineraries.
- Choose pubic transport over Uber when possible. For longer journeys, choose the train.
- Aim to ‘leave no trace’: take your rubbish with you, leave areas as you found them and stick to well-trodden paths to not disturb wildlife.
- Choose not to engage with unethical activities that are harmful to animals and wildlife. For example, riding elephants, petting tigers or supporting marine park shows. Animals are best seen in their natural habitat, so head on a safari, whale watching tour or jungle hike instead.
- Visit a destination that can financially benefit from your stay.
- Support businesses that are run by and/or benefit the local communities.
- Volunteer while travelling. Nomadic Matt has some great tips for finding ethical volunteering options.
- Visit the local farmers market instead of a supermarket chain.
- Use local tour guides instead of major companies. You’ll find cooler spots and hear some amazing stories. I also liked booking local photographers when travelling solo through AirBnB. Haven’t used AirBnB before? Sign up here!
Make conscious travel work for you and do what you can
You don’t need to do all of these things at once to become a conscious traveller. Don’t beat yourself up if you forgot to pack your plastic cutlery or end up taking an Uber when it was pouring with rain.
Sam from travel blog There She Goes Again says it best:
Go easy on yourself and start with making small changes. If you jump in and try to completely change all your habits at once, you’re going to get overwhelmed and give up.Sam -there she goes again
Do you have any tips on how to be a more conscious traveller? I’d love to hear them in the comments!