Seven sustainable habits that will make you a more conscious traveler

While we keep hearing about ‘sustainable travel’, we often wonder what it actually means. Around the world, many people are now more aware of their burden on the environment and the places they visit, ensuring they take a more eco-friendly approach when exploring new places.

This becomes especially important in a pandemic, when many people — who have traveled recently — have chosen lesser-known and less-explored destinations to cut down on crowds.

If you’re wondering what you can do to become a responsible traveler, digital travel company Booking.com shares seven handy tips when it’s safe to travel again.

1. Choose sustainable accommodation options

Choosing sustainable places to stay is a great start — and it doesn’t mean spending a fortune. There are plenty of sustainable options for every budget and taste. In fact, 98 percent of Indian travelers from their latest study said they would like to stay in sustainable accommodation in the coming year. One of the easiest ways is to check and see if it has an eco-label or third-party sustainability certification.

2. Get off track

The pandemic has affected 72 per cent of Indian travelers to avoid popular destinations and attractions to ensure they do not contribute to overcrowding. Being careful when choosing your next trip can help reduce overtourism, which can be a major problem for fragile environments, ecosystems and local communities. Consider traveling to a lesser known destination. Or, travel during the low season, when there are fewer visitors.

3. Say no to plastic

Limit the use of single-use plastics. With an estimated 91 percent of plastic not being recycled, most ends up in the oceans or landfills. Many properties have taken steps to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic, but travelers can also take simple steps such as using reusable water bottles instead of buying plastic bottles or packing their own reusable toiletry bottles from home. An alternative to single-use plastic is a steel water bottle which is more durable.

sustainable travel, sustainable travel, travel consciously, sustainable travel habits, travel in pandemic, India express news As much as possible, bring personal items from home and avoid using single-use plastic. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

4. Give back to the community

When planning activities for your trip, look for a tour company that empowers the local community, as well as engages in ethical tourism practices. According to their latest report, respect for local communities tops the list of Indian travelers with 74 percent wanting to have an authentic experience that represents local culture.

5. Pick up one junk item as you go

Try and leave the place you visited better than when you found it. A simple way to do this is to pick up used items that don’t belong to you while you’re away. And every action counts — just picking up one piece of plastic on the beach means one less piece ending up in the ocean.

6. Buy local

When you’re traveling, one of the best ways to support the local economy and limit your carbon footprint is to shop locally and eat food from street vendors or restaurants that use sustainably sourced produce. Avoid eating at popular fast food chains that usually import products from around the world. And if you cook yourself, try buying from the local market too. This is also in line with the sentiment of Indian tourists where 74 percent want to have an authentic experience that represents local culture.

7. Bring good habits on vacation

Many are already aware at home about turning off lights when not in use, or being careful about when and how high we use the air conditioner. Around 59 per cent of Indian travelers believe that it is more difficult to make sustainable holiday choices. The first step can be as simple as remembering to bring a mindful habit from home. Travelers can ensure that they turn off the lights when they leave their rooms, reuse their towels or don’t change their sheets every day and pay more attention to the length of their showers.

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