Travel and sustainable activities may sometimes seem incompatible, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The tourism industry is making an important effort to make its services as sustainable as possible.
We, as travelers and consumers, can also make small commitments to change that do not involve much effort or expense, that will be more enriching and will also have a positive impact at the heart of your travel destination.
Here are five ways to support the locals on your travels:
This is the first rule for sustainable tourism.
As a habit, we often consume familiar products that we already know to avoid surprises on our trips. This, however, is a big mistake. This is certainly the case for restaurants because we often gravitate towards franchises or large hotel chains.
Forget your fears and try the gastronomy at small local restaurants. Go to the farmers’ markets and buy fresh fruit produced locally.
When buying a gift or souvenir, buy it from a local artisan or a local craft fair. It is these small businesses that truly sustain the local economy.
The same is true if you need a guide and orientation for your trip. Always seek advice from local businesses.
Participate in local sustainable activities
We’ve decided to go local.
Now it’s time to find sustainable activities. There are a lot of community services in many destinations where you can collaborate directly.
You can organize participatory activities, such as cleaning beaches, reforesting a green area, building parks, etc.
Do some research before your trip, contact an organization and schedule a participatory activity. I assure you that it will be a very enriching experience for both sides.
Direct accommodation with locals
When looking for accommodation, choose small companies or private accommodation.
Thanks to the internet, communication with locals is easier and you can contact them directly. There is plenty of accommodation managed by locals that favor the local economy, retaining the wealth generated.
In addition, you’re vacation will be a far more authentic, satisfying experience for interacting with the locals.
Learn their language and culture. Respect and don’t judge
One of the things that strikes me most about first-world travelers is their arrogance faced with new languages. It’s so simple to learn a few basic words of the local language.
Thank you, please, good morning and good afternoon are basic! Learn them and use them without fear. The locals appreciate these small efforts and you will take something else back with you.
Next, listen and interact with everybody; talk to your hostess, the waiter or the neighbors in your area. Ask them about it, learning about their experiences, their history and their way of life.
Learning about their traditions and customs helps to keep them from being forgotten.
Respect the environment – do not consume in excess & do not waste
Another mistake we often make is wastefulness.
We are very used to living in societies where there is everything and we do not care that heavy consumption creates massive pollution and waste.
Avoid excessive water consumption, with long showers or several showers a day; avoid buying bottled water in small quantities (to reduce plastic consumption); the use of laundry for towels or sheets if not necessary.
In destinations where it’s hot, avoid the uncontrolled use of air conditioners. On the other hand, keep the places you visit clean, remove litter from natural places and beauty spots, and even pick up what you find to deposit them in the right place.
It’s also a great move to turn off the lights you do not need, or at least be aware of how much light you’re using at any time.
If you really analyze these small gestures, they involve very little effort and are much more rewarding than you think.
Once you start practicing them, they will become part of your travel routine. We hope they will be of great use and that more and more people will take the initiative.
Article submitted by Jack Kelly, Head of Outreach & Communication @ Alandis Travel
Alandis Travel is a wholesale tour operator that offers educational guided-tour and program packages to Spain, Cuba and Puerto Rico for groups.
Article kindly authored by Rocio Haro