Every time I hop on a plane, I can’t help but think about how much damage I am causing to the environment due to the gas emissions. It was different when I wasn’t aware of these things but now that I am, I have a nagging feeling. They say what you don’t know won’t hurt you, but I say what you know will haunt you.
Unfortunately, there are no real alternatives for long distance travel so I try to do my part by sometimes choosing airlines that use bio fuels, for example and try to find other ways to reduce my carbon footprint on this earth that I am trying to experience.
I know traveling is fun, we want to go out there and live our best lives. I get it. I do too and I don’t mean to be a party pooper but it’s important that we do so responsibly and I will be sharing some of the ways I try my best to do so. Not saying I’m perfect – far from it but I am constantly taking steps to make sure I am adding value to the places I visit and not hurting it. I hope you learn a thing or two today that you can adopt for your next trip.
1.) REDUCING PLASTIC AND PAPER USE
Basically, thinking about our impact on the environment and becoming more environmentally conscious. We all know that plastics have a way of hurting our environment because they can cause some pollution and also harm marine life in the process (when they are dumped in the ocean because where else do you think they go?).
HOW I DO THIS: I reduce my plastic usage by carrying a reusable bottle with me on my trips. I’m going to be honest that there are times when I can’t help but buy a plastic bottle but I try my best not to. Also, instead of printing out my boarding pass and e-tickets and things like that, I make sure to use the digital bar-code and check in online too. This way, I am not contributing to paper waste.
When you take small actions like using only digital copies of your e-ticket instead of printing it off, you do your part for the environment.jessica ufuoma
2.) BEING RESPECTFUL TO LOCAL CUSTOMS AND LAWS
This is one of the most important ways to travel responsibly. You always have to think about the ways in which your actions affect the lives of others, especially others whose country you are going in and out of, living them to deal with the consequences you created. How are you respectful of their customs, dress codes, religion? If you are going to a sacred temple that means so much to them (even when you do not understand it, because you don’t have to understand to respect it.), what are you wearing? These are some things to think about.
It is important to respect the cultures and customs of the places you travel to. A little research prior to your trip goes a long way.jessica ufuoma
3.) LEAVING EVERYTHING WHERE YOU MET THEM
I know that we often use this travel quote, “take only memories, leave only footprints” and that’s great but hopefully we are leaving only positive footprints. When you hop on a flight, try not to take the blanket you are given because what happens when you do? They have to be replaced and someone bears the grunt. Oh, what about going to hotels and taking their towels? Sometimes the staff have to pay for them and this is based on a conversation I had with the hotel staff. Bottom line, leave things where you met them. This also includes shells on the beach – they are not for your personal souvenir collection.
Leave things where you met them. If you need a souvenir, go to a souvenir shop.jessica ufuoma
4.) AVOIDING ALL FORMS OF ANIMAL ABUSE
I know we see these great photos of people with wild animals all over the internet, and I am one of them don’t get me wrong but there is a right and wrong way to interact with animals. What’s to say you can’t feed a pellet to a giraffe, or a banana to a monkey? Nothing wrong with that but when interacting with animals, it is important to know our limits. An example will be going to a Tiger Sanctuary and posing by a tiger. A tiger has to be heavily sedated to be able to stay in such a submissive position and this greatly affects their brain and the way they function. It’s harmful. Or pulling a starfish out of water for too long? Harmful. Think about your interactions and how they affect the planet earth. We want everything working as intended.
5.) A HEALTHY USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is a great place to share our new travel adventures and the cool places we visit but it is no surprises that it has also simultaneously led to the influx of tourists to an area. Now, nothing wrong with tourists crowding an area especially when the area is a popular one and the government has made provisions for the capacity. But when you discover a new hidden gem, especially when it is a local community take proper care and responsibility when it comes to sharing on Social Media and disclosing the spot. I can’t imagine having a little backyard that happens to be beautiful and all of a sudden I see a throng of tourists come there and encroach on my personal space with no compensation or consideration for me. This one is tricky but we should be mindful.
Some “hidden gems” should be kept as such. Hidden.jessica ufuoma
6.) SUPPORTING LOCAL COMMUNITIES
I always try to support the local communities I visit, whether that be in the form of buying local handmade goods or volunteering or staying in homes that directly contribute to the pockets of the locals. It’s important to do so because quite frankly, sometimes the locals do not benefit from the proceeds of tourism but they are mostly the ones you interact with, the ones who welcome you into their country with open arms, the ones who make your stay better, not some government official. It’s important to give back when you can, it’s the least you could do.
7.) BONUS – USING A CARRY-ON LUGGAGE
This year, I decided to get into the habit of only taking a carry on luggage with me while traveling. For a chronic over packer, this was tough but the benefits are endless. Not only do I save $$$ on baggage fees, I also help the environment because the heavier the airplane is, the more fuel it has to use to tote everything around. So, carrying only a carry-on isn’t just something you do for yourself but for the planet as well. Such a WIN-WIN.
CONCLUSION: There you have it. I hope you learned a thing or two in this post and are inspired to make better travel choices. I know sometimes there are no other options available but when you can, please do your part. There are several ways you can be a more responsible traveler but these are the things that I am constantly practicing, so they are top of mind of me. Did I miss anything? Feel free to add them to the comments below.
Until next time,
Keep dreaming, traveling, soaring.
Love you guys!