There are many debates going around about how we can all work harder to help keep our planet clean and safe. It was something we touched on in school but never pursued the topic.
It is something we are told we need to do but not always given the correct or helpful information on how. Lately, I have been thinking about different ways I could help do my bit for our lovely planet. Here are some helpful tips on how to be a responsible traveller.
We pack extremely light and often what takes up the most room and space in the luggage is toiletries. It is a pain, a real pain, not just because it eats into our luggage space but the number of bottles and packaging we end up using.
There are plenty of companies now releasing shampoo and conditioner bars, one of the biggest brands known for this is LUSH. These can be kept in a tin, so you don’t have to worry about soggy clothes and fluffy bars. They are small, compact and easy to use, this is a zero plastic product and handy to the backpackers needing more space.
Clear Toiletry Bag
We have a plastic clear bag that is actually a pencil case but works well as a toiletry bag. Though it is plastic we use it for our toiletries and because it is clear we can use is in our hand luggage.
We have an endless supply of those resealable bags they use in the airport for liquids. I try my best to not have to get one, that is so much plastic waste right there. Instead, we use the clear plastic pencil case every time we travel.
I will hold my hand up and say I don’t have one of these. I don’t use and ordinary plastic toothbrush either. We have a rechargeable electric toothbrush that is really good for our dental hygiene.
With this we have saved yourself so much money on buying toothbrushes and cut back on our plastic waste. If you do use an ordinary toothbrush check out some of the bamboo ranges online.
Reusable Water Bottles
I think this is pretty much a given, I don’t think I have met many travellers and holidaymakers who don’t carry a reusable water bottle. We shave tried out our fair share and honestly still looking for one that works best for us. Though having always had one on us while we travel has been a godsend, being able to have water in an emergency or saving money on buying bottled water.
Use a Diva Cup
This is aimed for the ladies. If you are still having periods and haven’t stopped them for any reason (there is no judgement here, you do what you want and need to do for your body) you will no doubt be using tampons and pads.
Up until 2017 we both were using tampons and pads every month, it was costly for a start and the idea of travelling full time and worrying about that wasn’t good. We were packing up to travel full time and questions like where can you buy them? or what happens if I come on early?
Menstrual cups are becoming more well-known thanks to Hannah Witton, who tried this out and got the women talking. This has changed our travels for the better, knowing we have it when we need it and don’t have to worry about getting more on the road. It lasts 1 year, it is discreet, clean and easy to use.
While Primark and cheap fashion stores are great and you can pick up plenty of clothes for little money they are also creating big waste issues. I am guilty of it, I have a couple of things from Primark and often go there to find cheap vest tops and t-shirts when I need them.
I am trying to move into quality vs quantity. Also, a big thing is looking at ways to recycle your clothes when you are done with them. There are a couple of things, if you are crafty make your clothes into new clothes, if you want to sell them, you can also send them to the charity shops.
If you are looking at updating your wardrobe a little you can look at buying from companies that are working hard to cut down waste and negative impact on the earth. There are a number of clothing companies doing just that and making some cute clothes.
Recycle Where You Can
There has been so many places in the world we have been and not known what we can recycle or where we can put our items to be recycled. Some countries such as Japan don’t have many public bins, this is slowly changing but many would carry their rubbish home or to their destination.
I know it could be a hassle to keep hold of your rubbish all day but try and find a nearby store, bin or business in which you can take your rubbish.
When we were heading off to Iceland we knew due to our budget we would be buying from the supermarket and eating in our hotel. We didn’t mind one bit and actually enjoyed having the rest after a long day.
One way we made this possible was buying a reusable cutlery set and foldable bowls. This is extremely helpful when you are given the option to use one-time plastic cutlery, you can use yours instead. While ours aren’t bamboo you can find plenty of sets that even include a bamboo straw.
Respect The Wildlife
Though I have never trekked through a forest or camped in another country than England there are so many ways you can make sure you aren’t causing any damage or leaving a footprint. There are a number of articles and helpful tips out there to educate you before a trip.
We headed to Thailand last year and really wanted to go to Monkey Hill in Phuket, while we managed to get a little picture near one of the monkeys we were very aware that this was their home and habitat we were in. Many tourists were racing up the hill on scooters and taking selfies with the monkeys.
There are plenty of places in the world that animals are used as an attraction, by not encouraging the business is a way to help put a stop to it.
Respect The Culture
While we generally haven’t been many places that are strict on dress code there are some places we have been that we personally made the decision to dress accordingly.
Japan is a great example, though they aren’t against shorts and dresses they personally don’t have a lot of flesh on show. Especially in the less touristy areas we chose to cover our legs and shoulders out of respect.
Temples, churches and religious sites are a really good example, this may require you to cover your shoulders, hair for women and legs. If you are going anywhere and looking to visit a religious monument find out from your hotel/hostel any information you can about dress code or common courtesy before visiting.
Don’t be afraid to learn the language or at least try. We learnt some of the polite ways to behave when it came to food and greetings when we were in Japan and Bulgaria.
These small changes will help you become less of ‘tourist’ and more of a traveller. This can also relate back to food, in Japan it is uncommon to walk while drinking and eating.
Choose Your Tours/Hotels Wisely
I will hold my hand up and say we don’t vet our accommodation. I realise this may be terrible to some but as we are working on such a budget we can’t afford the luxury to be picky. But that doesn’t mean we don’t care, we just try to work out ways to help out where we can.
Back in 2016, we had our first trip to Thailand, we had a great time and one of our stays was over on Phi Phi Island.
We were hosted by Zeavola resort and it was beautiful. The resort was totally and incredibly self-sufficient with eco-friendly waste, reusing water and products that were locally sourced.
If you are looking to try and make a bigger impact on your travels this is a way to do it. Try booking local tours and hotels instead of big chains, look at whether the scuba centre encourages feeding the marine life or not. These small steps can really help boost the local economy.
Don’t Go For The Obvious
Over tourism is a big thing, it has caused beaches to close, cities to be blocked off and natural landmarks to be destroyed.
There are places in the world that the next generation and more will never see because too many tourists at one time spoilt it. We have been to the blank sand beach in Iceland, we went at a low point in the year so visitor numbers were low. I still thought it was busy enough without it being peak season.
A way you can help over tourism is looking at going to new places, places that are less well known and still undiscovered. There is so much to see of this world that you can discover something entirely new and beautiful on your doorstep if you looked hard enough. Also if you want to visit those dreamy canals of Venice look at going for a shorter period of time and in off-peak season.
As I end this article I want to point out that you won’t be able to manage all of these things, great if you try and still work hard on cutting down your plastic waste and carbon footprint.
I will hold my hand up and say I am no saint and I am researching more into how to be a responsible traveller. I recycle what I can and try not to waste food where I can and even walk to the shop instead of taking the car. But honestly, if everyone just tried a little it would make a difference.