Everybody loves to travel. There are few things that can be more exciting or more fulfilling than shaking up one’s routine, and finding oneself in new surroundings, immersed in a new culture.
That being said, travel often comes with a few big questions marks. One of the biggest of these questions is that of sustainability. How can travelers enjoy the world around them while promoting sustainable travel and even making a positive impact in the process?
In no group of travelers is this question more salient than the fasting growing generation of globetrotters, Millennials.
The Rise of The Millennial Travelers
Studies have concluded that Millennials are taking to the road in huge numbers, making it a priority to travel. In fact, the United Nations reported that 20% of international tourists, or nearly 200 million travelers, are young people. This same group is also the fastest growing demographic in terms of travel spending.
According to the UN research, Millennials rank travel as a higher financial priority over the next five years and consider seeing the world only marginally less important than saving up for houses, cars, and even paying off debt.
This trend drives a bigger economic boost to the tourism and hospitality industries of different countries. A study confirmed that Millennials have already spent over $50.4 billion on leisure travel in 2017. Tourism creates jobs, both through direct employment within the tourism industry and indirectly in sectors such as retail and transportation.
Despite this, tourism can also have a negative effect on destinations. Negative impacts occur when the level of visitor use is greater than the environment's ability to cope with this use within the acceptable limits of change. This can manifest on a region's natural and cultural resources, such as water supply and electricity.
Skyrocketing numbers of tourists can put enormous pressure on an area and lead to impacts such as soil erosion, increased pollution, and traffic emissions. It can ruin beaches, destroy forests, and put endangered special in grater peril. Also, tourists can inadvertently damage social and cultural ecosystems by disrespecting local customs and financially supporting harmful practices and organizations.
This is why there is a great need for responsible tourism and travel and Millennials, already 78% more likely to choose and pay more for sustainable products, have begun to question how they can travel responsibly.
Below are some tips to consider for a sustainable vacation.
What is Responsible Travel?
Responsible travel (aka responsible tourism) is the social and cultural notion of being aware every time you travel. It goes down to the basics, as simple as understanding and acknowledging the effects of your presence and actions on the places you will visit and people you meet. It is the effort of trying your best to make it a positive one.
How to Be a More Responsible Traveler?
Before you travel:
- Plan a responsible traveler’s itinerary.
Research your route. Try to find the most direct route to your destination, and avoid internal flights where possible. Air travel is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions, and most carbon is emitted during take-off and landing.
- Choose an eco-friendly hotel and tour organization.
Having a little background on their environmental policies, sustainability programs, resource saving strategies, and energy efficiency protocols can give you an idea if they are pro-environment or not.
- Remove all excess plastic packaging, especially if hiking or camping.
- Invest in travel sized containers so you can eliminate excess trash during your trip.
- Learn a few words of the local language. Nothing says you want to know a culture better than learning a few phrases and bits of its language.
During your trip
- Talk to the locals.
Use this time and opportunity to build connections that will last a long time.
- Respect the people, culture, and environment of the places you visit.
Observe rules and unspoken behavior
- Buy local produce and goods.
Support local communities and livelihood opportunities. Also, avoid supporting business that are harmful and exploitive by choosing business that take a stand against issues such as sex trafficking.
- Hire a local guide. You will definitely enjoy your travel more when you get the inside tips from the right people. At the same time, they will earn an income.
- Use public transportation, or bike or walk when possible.
- Before you take a photo or selfie, take a minute to enjoy and appreciate the view.
After your trip
- Give feedback and comments to the tour operators, especially if you have tips on how they can be more sustainable.
- If you feel inclined, donate to a program that is supporting a place or community that you visited.
- Stay connected. Maintain the relationships you have built during your trip
Even the smallest of efforts, if done and observed by all tourists, it will definitely make a change and a positive impact on the environment and its ecosystem. Sign up to Venture with Impact and transform yourself from jaded tourist to responsible traveler today.