By Anitra Byers
OCEAN Style writer
Often, we travel to new destinations or revisit places from past travels with the intent of having a good time or simply to mark off our bucket list. But rarely when planning our vacation do we consider how our travel plans will ultimately impact the country, people and culture we’ll encounter in either a poor or positive way.
Sustainable Travel offers a more clear view on how as travellers, we can continue to see the world, help others and protect our environment during our travels. According to the Global Development Research Center Sustainable Travel can be summarized as that of having low impact on a country, culture, people and environment. Sustainable Travel also creates employment and generates income for the local economy and ecosystems.
Choosing a destination
It is essential to research countries where ecotourism is best practiced. Knowing which country to visit, how they perceive and welcome sustainable travel will aid in your decision on which destination to book. One destination that comes to mind is Kenya. Best known for its vast plains, national parks, beaches and wildlife, Kenya is one of the world’s top eco-friendly destinations.
It is also a good idea to talk with your travel professional for assistance with choosing a destination and the most eco-friendly way to arrive. Travel professionals often have access to additional resources such as new travel policies and regulations and ecotourism check lists that are not always available to consumers.
Know BEFORE you go
Get to know the county you will be visiting prior to arrival. This alone will help you to better appreciate the country, its people and culture during your stay. Become familiar with the country’s history and value its views on daily living. Understand the environment and why locals cherish it. Learn how you too, can contribute to keeping it safe.
In a nutshell, understanding where hotels and restaurants acquire their products from and making sure these establishments and other businesses are re- investing in the community is critical. Having an understanding of how these entities are focusing on and funding the local economy can be a challenging task but one you should research before planning your trip.
As a traveller, it is equally important that you too are investing in the community and aim to strengthen the country’s economy by spending, dining and lodging with local business owners.
Avoid renting cars and taking taxies where ever possible. Many cities offer walking, biking and running tours. Many of these tours focus on culture, history and nature, making it an even better choice to take the tour in addition to some included fitness. Also, choose a hotel that is close to public transportation. Purchase a pass and navigate throughout the city and mix and mingle with locals along the way.
Pack your best practices
Don’t put your best practices on vacation. When you travel, continue to recycle, utilize reusable bottles and bags and avoid littering just to name a few. Also, consider volunteering time with programmes focused on the needs of locals.
It is always good to have another language under your belt. And what better way to express to locals your like for their culture then by knowing the local language? Even if the words learned are as basic as hello and goodbye, learning the local language gains friendship. It also shows an appreciation for the culture. There are many free language apps that can help you be prepared for your trip. One good app is Duolango.