If you’re reading this, chances are you love travel every bit as much as we do. After all, is there anything better than exploring and seeking new corners of the world, learning about new cultures, experiencing different ways of life and ultimately being a badass world wanderer? Probably not.
But hey, let’s not forget travel is a privilege. With that privilege comes a responsibility to protect the people and communities we visit, our beloved planet and its wildlife for generations to come. Sounds daunting, but trust us, it’s not as complicated as you’d think! In fact, chances are (because we’re betting you’re an all-around awesome citizen) you’re already killing it for mother nature. Just to be sure, or if you could use some helpful hints, check out these 8 simple steps to become a more responsible traveller…
Know Who You’re Travelling With
Whether travelling with Contiki or any other guided vacation provider, do a little digging. Find out about the company’s policies, see what it’s doing to minimize environmental impact. Look into how the company works with local communities to support the local economy. If you’re travelling independently, read up on the hotels and hostels you plan to stay in. Most often if they’re doing good things, they’ll want you to know about it!
Ditch the Plastic
It’s all too easy to buy and ditch plastic water bottles on the go, so these un-recyclable nasties end up in one place – landfill. Shockingly, one plastic bottle takes 700 years to decompose in landfill. If you think about how many plastic bottles are sold every day, that’s some crazy numbers. Be prepared on your travels! Carry a reusable bottle like Contiki’s foldable bottle featuring a state-of-the-art filtration system with you and refill it as you go so you can have clean, safe drinking water wherever you are in the world. The earth will thank you, and so will your bank balance.
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Because really, who wants to travel to the other side of the world to eat McDonalds? Immerse yourself in the country you’re exploring by eating and drinking local brands and actively hunting out locally owned restaurants and bars. Not only will the food blow your mind, you’ll also get to rub shoulders with the locals and find out their top tips on where to head next!
Everyone dreams of a house filled with treasures they’ve collected from their travels. After all, interesting ornaments, ornate wall hangings and questionable fertility vases are staple conversation starters for any great dinner party! Keep traditions alive when you travel by buying from local artisans who use traditional methods for their craft. You’ll be rewarded with some absolute one of a kind pieces AND you’ll be supporting the local economy – #winning.
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Hate being branded a tourist and don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb? Get your head in a book before you leave! Wise up on the countries you’re visiting by learning a little about their religion, culture, history and any local rules you’ll need to be aware of. It also doesn’t hurt to brush up on a few key phrases of the local language. Showing you’ve made the effort goes a long way with the local crowd! Guide books like Lonely Planet or Rough Guides are packed full of this kind of info.
Reduce that Carbon Footprint
Until super intelligent scientists figure out how to make humans fly, we’re pretty much stuck with plane travel. So, what can we do to minimize the effects? Much of a plane’s carbon emissions occur during take-off and landing, so where possible try to book direct flights to the country you’re visiting. In-destination try wherever possible to carpool, take public transport or better yet, travel by coach or train. Train travel is one of the most sustainable forms of transport in Europe, as trains emit roughly 66-75% less carbon than cars and airplanes. Alternatively, for each full coach, there are 16 fewer cars on the road, which can only mean one thing – less of those nasty carbon emissions. Bonus! Contiki’s fleet is equipped with Euro 6 engines, meaning sometimes the air leaving the engine is cleaner than what goes in.
Respect the Wildlife
Wildlife is meant to be wild. A big travel motivator for many of us is to observe and appreciate majestic animals around the world, but it’s crucial to remain respectful of these species. The world’s wildlife population is balancing on a dangerous precipice. Remembering to honour their space and treat them as wild is more important now than ever. Ethical treatment of animals ranges from not riding animals that ought not be ridden (i.e., elephants), to avoiding animal selfies with exotic animals. Doing them no harm and understanding they are wild animals not meant to be domesticated and protecting the species most at risk are big factors in contributing to animal welfare.
Make Your Travel Matter
Make Travel Matter for the people and communities you visit, for our planet and for the wildlife we share it with, so our kids and grandkids can continue to explore this beautiful world. Though touching a centuries old structure might seem like the ultimate Instagram opportunity, try to resist the urge. Sticking to designated trails and leaving nature and structures untouched is imperative to preserving the natural beauty of a destination. Tread lightly in every sense of the word and remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints. Contiki Cares, powered by TreadRight, is our commitment to doing just that. Join us in taking our #MakeTravelMatter pledge at https://www.treadright.org/pledge/.