Sustainable Travel

Resources and advice to help you move around the world while maintaining your connection to it in a responsible way.

Ocean Plastic & Tourism Solutions

Ocean Plastic & Tourism Solutions

In some places, it’s hard to avoid piles of trash littered on streets, in waterways, and along the coastline. But if that’s just the trash we can see, imagine what we can’t see hidden beneath waves.

Many things that lure us to the other side of the planet to witness – turtles swimming through seagrass and vibrant fish – are being destroyed. Our oceans are choking on plastic that we irresponsibly created and released into the natural world. 

Tourism isn’t helping the situation, but it can.

Rather than exploring marine destinations, using resources, and expecting perfection, tourists can be a part of the solution. We can recognize the devastation caused by ocean pollution, and how tourism can have a role in the solution. 

 

Table of Contents

Background on Ocean Plastic

How Much is there?

Estimates of 8-12 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year, with projections to triple this by 2040 if we don’t reduce our use and change disposal systems. 

Land-based sources, like litter and improperly disposed-of waste, constitute the majority of plastic pollution, around 70% to 80%. The other 20% to 30% comes from discarded fishing gear, particularly in remote areas where education and enforcement are lower.

Where is it coming from?

Developed regions consume more plastic waste per person, around 0.2 kg to 0.5 kg per day, whereas less-developed countries like India and the Philippines consume only 0.01 kg to 0.07 kg per day respectively. Despite the lower consumption, India and the Philippines top the list for ocean litter contribution.

The higher populations in South and Southeast Asia, combined with high rates of waste mismanagement contribute to the overwhelming problem of plastic pollution, and marine degradation.

It is in these areas that ocean conservation is essential since the very ecosystems that are being destroyed are the ones that provide nourishment and livelihood for many rural communities.

Most municipal waste is managed in the region of consumption (European trash largely stays in Europe). Less than 5% of US, Canadian, and Australian waste is shipped to Asia.

Environmental Impact of Ocean Plastic

Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution has an immense impact on the sensitive marine life. Animals mistake plastic debris for food, leading to starvation and internal injuries. Collections of plastic waste have formed 5 oceanic gyres of trash masses, leading to animal entanglement in plastic debris. 

The largest – The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – is 3 times the size of France (or 2 times the size of Texas if you only know the Imperial system).

The most damaging threat to the ocean comes from microplastics – fragments less than 5 millimeters in size. They are being ingested by everything from plankton to whales, raising serious concerns about their impact on the entire marine food web (including humans).

As of this writing, the United Nations is discussing the ‘Global Plastics Treaty’, a legally binding international agreements to address plastic pollution throughout the entire life cycle of plastics.

There has NEVER been an enforced environmental treaty across nations, so check out the latest on this monumental action!

United Nations Environment Programme: Beat Pollution

Trash collected on the beaches of Bali, shown in the hand of a volunteer

Climate Change

This sensitive ecosystem is further threatened by climate change. Rising ocean temperatures and acidification disrupt the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. 

Our life on land depends on stability in the sea:

  • Marine phytoplankton produce more oxygen than trees.
  • Coastal mangroves and seagrass absorb half of our atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  • Coral reef systems account for over 25% of all marine life, and they’re dying off due to ocean acidification.

Coral Reefs

Coral reefs and coastal hotspots are destinations for over 350 million annual travelers and are being hit the hardest. 

The sensitivity of the environment has led to our complete loss of 20% of the world’s coral reefs with an expected loss of 90% by 2030, and 100% by 2050. Without change to our current actions, we will destroy our coral reefs and the abundant biodiversity that inhabits them.

The tropical regions around coral reefs are generally less developed and more rural, where over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods, making this much more than an environmental crisis.

Sunlight filtering through the ocean with a vibrant coral reef and tropical fish
The vibrant coral reefs are what drew me to Okinawa in the first place!

Tourism & Our Oceans

As aquatic life declines, locals are forced to change how they get nourishment, often in exploitative and damaging ways. The combined effects of these threats create a critical situation for our oceans and the communities that depend on them.

Not to mention the negative impacts on tourism and the local economy in general.

Island nations like the Maldives, Indonesia, and the Caribbean Islands depend on tourists for a large portion of their GDP and job availability. People travel to these destinations looking to snorkel in blue water, kick back on white sand, and live the island life. 

However, the bleaching of coral reefs and subsequent decline in biodiversity, trash contaminating the coastlines, and sanitation problems due to poor management are affecting the tourism industry. 

That’s all in the short term. In the long term, these island nations are being swallowed by the rising tides as climate change melts polar ice.

 

“In Tuvalu, we are living the reality of climate change and sea-level rise, as you stand watching me today at COP26 […] We cannot wait for speeches when the sea is rising around us all the time. Climate mobility must come to the forefront.”

Simon Kofe – Foreign Minister of Tuvalu, Cop26

Community-Based Tourism

As travelers, we have a responsibility to support community-led efforts to combat envrionmental degredation and social exploitation.

Sustainable tourism ensures that the local people are involved and leading the actions to make change. It is the livelihood of these regions that is at stake, their voices need to be prioritized.

An amazing example of CBT-focused plastic avoidance is Keep Bali Beautiful, where local government official Dermawan has created a waste collection and recycling system. Through volunteering with the organization, I got to learn about Bali’s trash problem, how locals are impacted, and support their actions that are making a difference.

Get Involved

Joining the movement to help our oceans can be hard to dive right into (pun intended). So here are a few organizations to get started with, no matter where you are!

6 Ways To Reduce Your Impact on Ocean Pollution

1. Join a Beach Cleanup

The easiest way to get involved with community efforts is through a beach cleanup. While we can’t dig our way out of the plastic problem, it can inspire change and promote sustainable choices. Explore Facebook pages, Google Maps, and local eco-stores to find opportunities to support in person.

Taking action with a community is inspiring and motivating – climate change and pollution can feel heavy, so team up and tackle the world!

A group of 8 people working with Keep Bali Beautiful standing on the beach with bags of collected trash in Bali

2. Host a Beach Cleanup

Don’t see anything organized in your area? Then it’s a perfect chance to host one! Use The Ocean Conservancy’s Clean Up Kit guide to learn how to gather friends, travelers, and locals and find community through collaboration. Even if your beach cleanup is just you collecting trash in a plastic bag you found somewhere, you’ll be surprised how many people help out!

Join Facebook groups, search on Google, or network in nearby eco-stores to connect with

3. Use Less Plastic

We will forever have a plastic problem until we face our overconsumption. By simply using less, you are making the biggest impact on our global waste crisis. While working with Trash Hero in Bali, the team leaders claimed this is the biggest way tourists can reduce their impact, while signaling to locals that we value less plastic!

Get the app: My Little Plastic Footprint, for a tailored approach to target your next eco-alternatives.

4. Support Locally Owned Eco-Businesses

Keeping the money you spend in the region is essential to promote economic growth and environmental protection. Avoid foreign-owned properties, and seek eco-businesses like refill stores, second-hand shops, and local food restaurants!

My favorite is TrshBg, a strap-on collection bag to use while swimming, made from recycled bike tires and fishing nets!

5. Talk About It (in a meaningful way)

We need collective action to make change at the pace we need to, and we can’t unite if we don’t talk! Let’s use the powers of the web to connect and discuss actions. Get into your community and be a voice for the world we all need!

6. Respect Local Regulation

Respect nature and the local regulations. Areas such as Koh Tao has a fin-free policy to protect its shallow corals, and many coastal areas have strict plastic bans.

No matter the laws, you should never touch aquatic life, for both your safety and theirs!

Summary - Ocean Plastic & Tourism Solutions

It is no surprise that our oceans – and seemingly every natural habitat – is littered with plastic. Our waste management systems aren’t sufficient for the amount of waste we produce, and our plastic products aren’t designed to be recycled.

We need many appraoches to combat our environmental impact; a circular economy that prioritizes reuse, government regulation and producer responsibility, and a community based approach to tackle the problems we currently face. 

Tourism can have a significant role to play, by both reducing the amount of plastic used in destinations, and involving tourists in the solutions on the ground. 

It’s time we start using travel as a force for good, and connecting with the world we are exploring – the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Sustainable Travel, 0 comments
Overtourism Solutions: Responsible Travel in Crowded Places

Overtourism Solutions: Responsible Travel in Crowded Places

Too often a postcard-perfect destination with its famous sights and streets is hopelessly swamped with visitors. That’s overtourism. It’s more than just a crowd; it’s when excessive tourism starts eroding the very things that drew people there in the first place. Overtourism harms local communities, strains the environment, and even lessens the experience for travelers themselves. We must break down the problem and identify the overtourism solutions we can employ to protect the destinations we all seek to explore.  

In the age of social media where a photogenic spot can become the next bucket list destination overnight, and budget flights are making international travel more affordable, the complexities of tourism impacts have never been greater.

While many destinations rely on foreign visitors to bring in money and opportunities, there are quite a few places that are facing the detrimental impacts of having too many tourists, and the number is growing.

The significant problems for the local people, environment, and culture are the foundation of the necessary conversation about overtourism. At what point does standard tourism tip the scales into being the problematic situation of overtourism? How many visitors are too many? Let’s break down this complex topic and identify actions we can all employ today. 

Crowds gathering during sunrise at Angkor Wat
Overtourism at Angkor Wat

Table of Contents

Tourism vs. Overtourism

Tourism can be a great thing; it brings wealth to rural communities, enacts protections for our natural world, and revitalizes crumbling architecture. However, it is naive to think that all tourism is good. Although many regions rely on the income that is brought in from tourism, others are banding together to curb the influx of travelers by imposing taxes, limitations, and protests.

During the pandemic, the tourism sector was among the hardest hit. This is especially true for island nations like the Maldives and Antigua & Barbuda, which respectively account for 55%-68% of their annual GDP from tourism according to the UN Tourism (previously known as the UNWTO).

While many nations are craving more visitors to bring in their external money, others are doing everything they can to stop it. These are the ones that experience overtourism. It is a seasonal issue that disproportionately impacts a few destinations. According to the UN Tourism, over 80% of global travelers visit just 10% of the world’s tourist destinations.
While there is no definitive figure or threshold to define overtourism, in its essence, it is too many people in a place at any given time. Since ‘too many’ is hardly explicit that makes managing and regulating tourism numbers even more complicated.

The Problem of Overtourism

While there are many benefits of tourism there is a tipping point when tourism becomes detrimental. Massive crowds filled with short-term travelers lead to local disruption and environmental degradation. Although the term was only coined in 2016, overtourism is not a new problem.

Especially as travelers have been itching to explore again post-pandemic, the destinations may not have been ready for the crowds of people flocking to the main attractions. The systems in these places just simply were not designed to bear this amount of use. Roads get backed up with traffic, residents get priced out of their homes in favor of hotels, and garbage cannot be effectively collected and disposed of.

I’ve seen it myself – even in the middle of winter while visiting the idyllic town of Hallstatt in Upper Austria, tour buses came by the dozens. A town with a consistent population of 800 residents can see upwards of 10,000 visitors per day. This is one example of many places that have been reshaped by the tourism industry and the swarms of pushy travelers with selfie sticks.

As governing bodies, local regulation, and shifting social patterns reshape the tourism industry, we as travelers have a part to play in the solution. We have the choice to prioritize the principles of responsible travel and eco-tourism, to stimulate a more sustainable travel lifestyle for ourselves and the places we visit.

Overtourism Solutions for Travelers

1. Travel in Off-Peak or Shoulder Seasons

Avoiding peak season, when most other tourists visit a place, is the best way to help curb overtourism. Think of it as flattening the curve. Peak season traveling often contributes to an unstable economy in destinations – many vendors and local businesses open up to support the influx of tourism, only to have to close for a part of the year since there isn’t enough business to sustain. 

By traveling in the off-season or shoulder season, you help sustain the tourism sector year-round in a more sustainable way without contributing to the over-populated times of the year.

Not only does this support the local economy, but you’re almost guaranteed to have a better experience when you’re not in massive tourist crowds. You get to enjoy some of the highlights without hundreds (if not thousands) of other people, creating a more authentic and memorable experience!

2. Travel Slowly

Slow travel isn’t about the amount of time you spend somewhere, because, in reality, that’s just not a luxury everyone can afford. Traveling slowly is about the pace at which you move when you are in a new location.

Fast travel is quick, always thinking about the next destination to make sure you see the sights. It has a packed itinerary without enough space to take opportunities to be in the moment, and frankly, not enough time for sleep!

Slow travel has changed my life for the better. It has allowed me to seek unique and enriching experiences, not because of how great of a photo it will be, or to get a quick thrill, but because it allows to me take in everything in between. It allows for long and spontaneous conversations with locals and exploring dirt roads that no other traveler has explored in a while. Not to mention also taking the time to relax and rejuvenate!

3. Support Local Business

No matter where you’re traveling, supporting locals is essential. If you’re going all the way to a beautiful new destination, just to get a Starbucks coffee, you’re missing out big time. For tourism to be sustainable, it has to support the local economy – not a major corporation profiting 1,000 km away. 

This is also in your best interest! Some of the best experiences I’ve had have come from talking to locals in their small restaurant on the outskirts of town. If you travel to experience a new way of life, you have to put yourself in the local experience and get out of your comfort zone. 

During a trip to Bali in 2023, we went to a local restaurant on Lake Batur – Rejeng Bali. We met the owner, JB, a local who shared his personal and community struggles after the pandemic. As foreign businesses opened in nearby Kintamani,  he has lost a lot of customers and shares his thoughts about the impacts and essential role of travelers;

 

I wish people would take more time to talk to locals and experience our way of life. Bali is so beautiful with so much culture that we want to share. I hope travelers know that their choices impact us. We have so much more to offer than a chain resort that only care about money.

4. Support Responsible Tourism

On the note of where you spend your money, that is especially true of supporting responsible tourism. While supporting locals is great, I can’t say that every local business owner has good intentions and education in what is beneficial vs impactful. Sometimes, they just see a way to capitalize on the needs of wealthy travelers suddenly flooding into their homes. Sometimes, local ‘guides’ will cut corners and disrespect local culture or environment to give tourists what they want at a great price. 

If there isn’t a willing group of buyers for a product or experience, then there won’t be a lucrative business for the sellers. Put your money into ethical experiences and products that enrich the local area rather than exploit it. 

5. Get off the Beaten Path

I can almost guarantee, that once a place is listed on a “top Instagrammable locations’ list, it will fall victim to overtourism in some way. Look at Kelingking Beach in Nusa Penida – thousands of people go there a day to take the same exact photo, meanwhile, the nearby Guaynagan waterfall is wayyy better with no people!

The world is so big and beautiful, that just because you haven’t seen a location pop up constantly on your social feed, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting. I mean, who wouldn’t choose an empty, quiet viewpoint that nobody has heard of, vs. standing in line to get ‘the shot’?

If you disagree, spend some time thinking about whether you’re traveling for you, or other people’s perception of you. 

6. Volunteering Abroad

Volunteering abroad, sometimes called ‘volunteerism’ is another way to leave a positive impact. By doing some research into the problems impacting an area, you can join the efforts to creating a sustainable solution.

It is important to note that not all volunteering abroad is beneficial. Many organizations prioritize the volunteer’s experience over the local’s needs. It is vital that any program you work with puts locals first and does not offer ‘volunteering’ as a tourist experience, but rather as a necessary solution that needs more hand on help.

While in Southeast Asia, I love working with Trash Hero to help clean beaches alongside the locals. This directly helps reduce a problem, while also showing other travelers that we can be a part of the solution.

7. Leave No Trace

Overtourism has a massive impact on the local systems like waste disposal. Systems are built to support the current population of a place, so when suddenly a few extra thousand people show up, that can put a lot of stress on local waste disposal, energy production, water supplies, food supplies, and transportation. 

The United National Environment Programme estimates 4.8 billion tonnes of trash comes from tourism. Constant meals out, and quick hospitality for your comfort that is sanitary leads to an excessive use of single-use plastics. And in areas of overtourism, they often can’t handle all of the extra waste. 

Water bottles and other trash washed on the beach in Bali
Beach Trash in Bali

8. Embrace Local Culture

Travel doesn’t need to be a form of escapism, it can be a way to connect with something new. It is very easy to sink into our habits, especially when we are ina—foregin place. However, travel is a way to open the doors to what else exists, and allows you a fresh perspective on this human experience.

As fun as a zipline tour or massage can be (don’t get me wrong, I love a good massage), you miss out on that deeper experience. Seek unique experiences, and what makes a culture unique. From a cooking class with a local, a ceremony or traditional dance, or seeking a homestay accommodation, you open yourself to what exists beneath the surface of tourism. 

9. Respect the Environment

Environmental degradation runs rampant with tourism. Take a look at Mount Everest for example. It is officially the world’s tallest garbage dump causing local water pollution and ecosystem damage. Trash left behind from decades of climbers is polluting the environment, while the trek to base camp has been so h

Diving destinations like Koh Tao have a strict no-fin policy since too many tourists haphazardly kick the fragile aquatic life. Responsible diving is something that many coastal regions struggle with, yet it is so vital to uphold. 

10. Be an Advocate!

In this world where everyone is sharing what they do online, you have a role to also share the ethical and low-impact adventures you have! The travel bug starts with inspiration, and you can help inspire others to travel more consciously and be mindful about their choices.

Rather than sharing how to get ‘the shot’, let’s start sharing more hidden gems, off-the beaten path destinations, and low impact travel style that embraces the local people and environment rather than exploiting them.

Overtourism Solutions for Organizations

Tourist Tax

Many areas that are getting impacted by over-tourism are imposing a tourist tax. This money helps offset the impact that visiting from abroad puts on the local economy. For example, Venice’s crowded city center is now charging a €5/day tax on weekends and peak summer months for any visitors.

You may experience a tourist tax on your next vacation. Instead of being pissed off that your trip costs even more, think about how you being there isn’t always the best for the area, and that tax is necessary to offset the impact you make. 

Local Preference

Another great way that regions are helping to combat the impacts of overtourism is by giving preferential treatment to locals. Typically, a touristy destination can charge higher prices, since the people coming to visit have more money to spend. However, that can negatively impact the locals who suddenly get priced out of their homes and the historical places that are culturally significant to them. 

For example in Barcelona’s famous Park Güell, locals are guaranteed free access!

Off-Peak Incentivization

My favorite way that regions and organizations help combat over-tourism is by incentivizing off-peak travel. Almost always, excursions, entry tickets, and transport are much cheaper in the off-season, sometimes even free!

Off-season travel is the best – not just for the local area, but also for the traveler. Fewer crowds and more authentic experiences are amazing, and the monetary incentivization is a bonus.

Tourist Limitations

Regions that face overtourism have been setting limits and restrictions for tourists in many ways. This can be in terms of a cap on how many people can enter a site per day, or agreements with foreign agencies to enter at all. For example, many port destinations are restricting cruise ship ports, which bring in millions of people for 1/2 a day, and release a lot of emissions, just to leave shortly after.

The historic city of Venice has banned cruise ship porting altogether, with petitions from Barcelona, Marseille, Dubrovnik, and many other Mediterranean destinations as well. 

Foreign Investment Limitations

In the continuous effort to allow tourist destinations to thrive, many regions also have strict limitations for foreign investment. This enforces that any business or investment has some local ownership and benefit, rather than western investors capitalizing on a foreign place.

For example in Bali, in most cases foreign people cannot own land on the island. They can only purchase a leasehold, allowing them to lease the property for a set amount of time, usually 25-40 years, before returning it to the origial owner (private villa and all). This ensures locals are not completely bought out of their land, and can even capitalize on foreign investment. 

Summary - Overtourism Solutions

It is so impactful as a traveler to realize that our choices can make a difference. Where we go, the accommodations we choose, how we get around, and the activities we do signal what travelers want. 

There are so many decisions to make, and by being mindful of the excursions we support, and when we plan to travel, we can help combat the harmful effects of overtourism. The internet inspires a lot of travel dreams, let’s redefine what is shared to include the conversation about ethical, low-impact, slow travel that prioritizes the local experience and environmental conservation. 

What overtourism solutions can you implement?

 

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Sustainable Travel, 0 comments
What is Eco-Tourism & Why It Matters

What is Eco-Tourism & Why It Matters

Camera and books on a table with the title 'Journal of Sustainable Tourism'

As climate change and environmental issues continue to gain more attention, many travelers are seeking ways to minimize their impact while exploring new destinations. One form of sustainable tourism that has gained popularity in recent years is eco-tourism, but what is eco-tourism, and how can you incorporate it into your plans?

Traveling around the world offers a perfect opportunity to observe our relationship with the environment, and how humans exist in our natural world. Eco-tourism is a type of travel that focuses on preserving the natural environment, supporting local communities, and understanding how our decisions impact everything else around us. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss what eco-tourism is, why it’s important, and how you can practice it on your next adventure!

What is Eco-Tourism?

Eco-tourism is a form of sustainable tourism that promotes responsible travel and environmental conservation. It involves supporting local communities, and visiting natural areas while minimizing the impact on the environment. 

Eco-tourism aims to promote sustainable tourism practices and reduce the negative impact of tourism on the environment and locals. This includes minimizing carbon emissions, reducing waste, conserving water, and supporting local economies. 

Table of Contents

"Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education"

Myths & Misconceptions

1. Eco-Tourism is Expensive

While some eco-tourism experiences may be more expensive than traditional tourism, there are also many affordable options available. Eco choices don’t necessarily mean they are a luxury. For example, taking an authentic cooking class with a local family can be more affordable than a fancy dinner at a modern restaurant, and many eco-friendly transport options are also more affordable! 

2. Eco-Tourism is Only For outdoorsy people

While it’s true that many eco-tourism experiences involve outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, or wildlife spotting, eco-tourism is not limited to the most adventurous travelers. Some eco-friendly accommodations and activities cater to all types of travelers, including families, couples, and solo travelers. 

3. Eco-Tourism is Only For Nature Lovers

Eco-tourism experiences often involve visiting natural areas, but they also provide opportunities to learn about local cultures, traditions, and communities. Eco-tourism can be a great way to experience a destination’s culture and history while also promoting sustainable travel practices. Indoor eco-tourism activities could be taking a cooking class, watching a traditional dance, 

4. Eco-Tourism is only in Remote Destinations

While many eco-tourism experiences are located in remote areas, there are also many urban eco-tourism experiences available! For example, visiting a city’s green spaces and botanical gardens, and getting involved with sustainable food is also considered eco-tourism. You don’t need to be in a remote jungle to experience eco-tourism, there are natural and cultural experiences available everywhere!

5. Eco-Tourism is Not Comfortable

While there are some eco-tourism experiences that involve rustic accommodations and outdoor activities, they don’t have to! For example, eco-lodges offer comfortable and luxurious amenities, just with an emphasis on natural materials and resources or resource conservation. The level of comfort you are seeking in eco-tourism depends on your budget and personal desires, but there is always something that fits everyone’s wants and needs!

6. Eco-Tourism is Not Safe

Like any form of travel, there are risks associated with eco-tourism experiences. However, reputable eco-tourism operators prioritize the safety of their guests and provide necessary safety equipment and guidance for outdoor activities.

It is also important to remember that nature is wild, and you should maintain a safe distance and awareness while in natural environments at all times.

Tip - It is important to remember that nature is wild, and you should maintain a safe and respectful distance and sense of awareness while in natural environments,

Why is Eco-Tourism Important?

Eco-tourism is important for several reasons. First, it promotes environmental conservation efforts and helps to preserve natural areas. By encouraging responsible travel practices, eco-tourism helps to reduce the negative impact on the environment, including deforestation, habitat destruction, and pollution.

Eco-tourism also supports local communities by creating jobs and providing economic opportunities. By supporting local businesses and services, travelers can contribute to the local economy and help to sustain local cultures and traditions. Not only does it support the local economy, but eco-tourism can also help to preserve cultural traditions and heritage!

Finally, eco-tourism allows travelers to experience the natural beauty of a destination while minimizing their impact on the environment. By choosing eco-friendly travel options, travelers can enjoy a unique and authentic experience while promoting sustainable tourism practices. 

Since eco-tourism is engaged with the natural environment of a place, it offers opportunities to learn and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the natural world. 

How Can You Practice Eco-Tourism?

1. Eco-Friendly Accommodation

When planning your trip, consider staying at eco-lodges, hotels that have implemented sustainable practices, or other eco-friendly accommodation options. These accommodations often have green certifications and use environmentally-friendly practices, such as renewable energy, water conservation, and waste reduction.

While some lodgings offer a wildlife experience or nature tours, it is important for the consumer (yes that’s you!), to do research into the company to verify it does promote environmental stewardship. Anyone anywhere can say something is ‘eco-‘, ‘sustainable’, or any other greenwashing word!

2. Support Local Businesses

One of the core principles of eco-tourism is to support local communities. When traveling, consider purchasing locally-made products, using local services, and participating in cultural activities. This can help to sustain local economies and preserve cultural traditions! I get it, you can’t always choose the most local, organic product there is, but even having a conscious thought about it will push the needle!

3. Visit Natural Areas

Eco-tourism often involves being in nature, which includes visiting national parks, wildlife reserves, and other protected areas. This brings in money for the region to continue preservation and educational efforts!

When visiting these areas, it’s important to respect the environment and follow responsible travel practices, such as staying on designated trails and minimizing waste! Always carry in, carry out, and Leave No Trace.

4. Choose Eco-Friendly Transportation

When traveling, consider using public transportation, walking, or cycling instead of driving or flying. These transportation options can help reduce carbon emissions and minimize your impact on the environment. If you do need to drive, try to carpool as much as possible, or use less-intensive transport options like a motorbike or electric vehicle.

When you can’t avoid gas-guzzling transport options, you can offset the carbon emissions by purchasing a carbon credit! Many transportation tickets offer the consumer an added fee to offset the contributed emissions directly, or you can make payment voluntarily to Climate Trade.

5. Learn about the Local Environment

Eco-tourism has a huge emphasis on the natural environment and local ecosystems, which involves learning about them! Consider joining a guided tour or participating in educational programs to learn about the local flora and fauna, and how to protect them. 

Also, the best way to learn about the natural environment is to talk to the locals! Ask the people that have been living in an area what they have seen change over the years, and what the greatest threats to local biodiversity are. Climate change is impacting everyone differently around the world, so take some time to ask the people that experience it the closest.

6. Reduce Waste

When traveling, it’s important to minimize waste and reduce your environmental impact. This includes using a reusable water bottle, carrying a reusable shopping bag, and avoiding single-use plastics. Some eco-friendly accommodations also provide eco-friendly amenities and encourage guests to conserve resources, but you should be prepared with your own utensils and reusable solutions!

7. Volunteer

There are so many ways for travelers to give back and participate in conservation efforts or community projects. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the local community and support conservation while meeting people and getting a hands-on appreciation and understanding of the local environment. 

Many volunteer programs will offer food and accommodation for your time supporting a project! This is not only a great eco-tourism option, but also a perfect solution to those traveling on a budget.

8. Choose Responsible Tour Operators

When booking tours or activities, choose tour operators that promote responsible travel practices and sustainable tourism. Look for tour operators that have eco-friendly certifications or have implemented sustainable practices in their operations.

Another way to practice is through Slow Travel. Check out these articles on What Is Slow Travel, and A Guide To Your Slow Travel Dream Life!

Summary - What is Eco-Tourism & Why It Matters

Eco-tourism is a sustainable form of tourism that promotes responsible travel and environmental conservation. By choosing eco-friendly travel options, supporting local communities, and minimizing your impact on the environment, you can incorporate eco-tourism into your travel plans and contribute to sustainable tourism practices. 

With the growing concern for environmental issues and sustainable travel, eco-tourism is becoming an increasingly popular travel option for those who want to explore new destinations while preserving the natural environment and supporting local communities. 

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Sustainable Travel, 0 comments
What Is Slow Travel: Sustainable Tips For Mindful Trips

What Is Slow Travel: Sustainable Tips For Mindful Trips

In today’s whirlwind world, travel often resembles a blur of landmarks and rushed exchanges. But what if there was a way to truly immerse yourself, forge genuine connections with local communities, and tread lightly on our planet? Enter Slow & Sustainable Travel – a revolutionary approach that reshapes the very essence of exploration. But, what is slow travel exactly?

Slow travel, an emerging trend that emphasizes the importance of immersing oneself in the journey, encourages travelers to forge a deeper connection with the places they explore.

Woman holding wildflowers in her hand while standing in a rice field in Bali

Table of Contents

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What is Slow Travel?

Slow travel isn’t about ticking off bucket lists or maximizing sightseeing photo ops. It’s a mindset shift, a conscious decision to savor the journey, not just the destination. You ditch the rigid itineraries and embrace the unexpected. You trade whirlwind tours for lingering conversations with locals, learning their stories, and immersing yourself in their traditions. You prioritize experiences over possessions and authentic connections over fleeting encounters.

For me – slow travel is a mindset centered around sustainability, being present, being open, and trusting the flow of life. I believe when you allow the flow of life to happen without force or pushback, it takes you exactly where you should be. 

We’ve all heard of Slow Fashion and Slow Food – the movement away from low-quality, mass-produced products towards sustainably sourced goods. It’s time we adopt the same perspective for how we spend our time and travel.

"Slow travel may mean different things to different travelers, but I define it as staying in one place for longer and going deeper into the local culture. It’s taking the time to make real connections with locals versus jam-packing a schedule full of tours. It’s staying in Kyoto at a Ryokan instead of city hopping throughout Asia."

Slow Travel = Sustainable Travel

As you travel around the world – or even at home – you will become aware of the current state of the natural world. You will see species disappear from a region, extreme changes in weather, and plastic waste sprinkled through an otherwise natural landscape. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also inevitable.

However, when you take a step back and think about the whole picture of why that is, you start to see how every human decision is linked to one uniting system. Nothing in this world happens in a vacuum, especially when it involves traveling to the other side of the planet!

When you travel fast, you take quick emission-intensive flights, to arrive at a resort on land that was taken from local people, and go on manicured excursions to ‘see the sites’.

Alternatively, if you allow yourself more time to move around, you open more possibilities to navigate the world. You use public transportation, you stop by local shops and restaurants simply because you can, and you stumble on hidden gems that most people are too busy to stop at.

You become a conscious traveler, mindful of the impact your presence has on the environment. This deliberate approach paves the way for a more sustainable future for tourism and the communities it affects.

When you feel more aware and connected to the world, you feel more driven to protect it. By getting in touch with the world, you think about your actions and decisions with consideration to the world.

Fast Travel

  • Strict plan to optimize time
  • Stressed thinking about the next plan
  • No time to meet locals
  • Does what all other tourists do
  • Doesn’t usually make lasting connections
  • Expensive splurge of sight-seeing
  • No time to rest, time is limited and planned
  • Emission-intensive transportation
  • Enjoys comfortable travel
  • Tourist” = Sees a place

Slow Travel

  • Flexible plan to enjoy time
  • Ability to be present in each moment, no stress
  • Pursuit of conversations with locals
  • Receives off-the-path suggestions
  • Makes intimate and lasting connections
  • Well-paced adventures, without huge expenses
  • Time for rest and reflection
  • Slow transportation = less emissions = cheaper
  • Enjoys authentic travel
  • Traveler” = Experiences a place

Who Is Slow Travel For?

Slow travel seems to be emerging as so many people find remote work opportunities. It is also well-timed with a new generation of people entering the workforce – a generation filled with dreamers and doers who can’t stop asking big-picture questions and trying to find the meaning behind life.

I felt it myself – I was working a stressful Corporate Sustainability job for years, and while I felt my role had a positive impact, I was sacrificing a lot of my time and freedom. I gave up a part of myself, and at 26 years old, I felt that the next 40 years of that wouldn’t be satisfactory for me.

There is so much to see in the world, and while I was fortunate enough to travel full-time in a very slow way, anyone can do it, even if you still work in the office! In short, slow travel is for remote workers, new families, people working 9-5 jobs, people in a gap year, retirees, teachers on summer break… everyone!

If you already know this lifestyle is for you, explore the steps you need to plan your slow travel journey! But, if you’re not sure why you should change the way you think about travel, here are a few reasons.

1. Deeper Connections

Traveling with a focus on awareness and being present inevitably will slow you down. It is too much for someone to see a dozen things in a few days, and be able to be fully engaged with all of them. You will never be able to see everything in the world, and even if you could, would you truly experience them?

You can think of slow travel as reducing the radius one tries to ‘see’, and instead focusing on thoroughly experiencing the few things that are done in the given time. If someone is focused on seeing it all, then they will be so concerned with what they think should be seen, that they miss everything in between.

Engaging in mindful and slow travel creates opportunities to develop deeper connections with the world, yourself, and the people you meet along the way.

You foster genuine relationships with local communities, becoming more than just a tourist passing through. By slowing down, you become a guest, not just a spectator, learning their stories, traditions, and challenges. This cultural exchange fosters understanding and empowers you to be a responsible ambassador for sustainable tourism.

 

2. Personal Transformation

Slow travel strips away the busyness and demands of daily life, allowing you to reconnect with yourself. You discover new passions, challenge your comfort zone, and learn to be present in the moment. You return home richer in experience and perspective, with a renewed appreciation for the simple joys of life. It is not even possible to put into words how this opens your perspective and shifts your thoughts about what it means to be a human. Our understanding of life is shaped by what we are exposed to, and slow travel allows you to develop a deeper appreciation and broaden your perspective on alternative ways and values.
Girl sitting on a rock on the Oregon coast, watching the waves roll in

3. Authentic Exploration

Rather than putting your time and money toward catered experiences, you have the chance to enjoy the realistic way a region exists. You delve into responsible travel practices, supporting ethically run accommodations, choosing eco-friendly activities like wildlife safaris led by local guides or guided hikes that focus on conservation efforts, and respecting local customs and natural resources. You become a champion for responsible tourism, paving the way for a more sustainable future for travel and the destinations you visit.

4. Environmental Stewardship

Your awareness of your environmental impact is inevitable when you travel intentionally. You see the impacts that people and land have from a more resource-intensive way of living, and you inherently change your personal choices.

Suddenly, you minimize your carbon footprint by choosing eco-friendly transportation, supporting local businesses that prioritize ethical practices, and reducing waste. You become a conscious traveler, mindful of the impact your presence has on the environment. This deliberate approach paves the way for a more sustainable future for tourism and the communities it affects.

Maybe you even get involved and volunteer locally to help communities globally combat their climate threats!

Two bags of trash on the beach, collected by volunteers in Bali

5. More Mindful, Less Stressful

When you limit your time, you inevitably put stress on it – to experience everything, to enjoy it all, and to see enough. However, when you travel slowly, you take all the stress out of traveling since you allow yourself time to get comfortable and go with the flow. Think about when you go on a 2-week vacation to a foreign country. You have to think about the customs and cultures, the food they eat, the dangers that may exist, the weather, the cost, and the people… I’m already overwhelmed! Instead, when you have a few months, you allow yourself to move at a pace that is comfortable for you, and you don’t put too much pressure on planning!

6. Save Money with Slow Travel

Racing around to do everything there is to do can be both tiring and expensive. When you travel slowly, you’re less concerned about seeing the ‘must-see’ places in an area, because you learn that there is so much to see that isn’t what everyone else is waiting in line for. Traveling at a slower pace can be a more budget-conscious option. By spending more time in one location, you can often find better deals on accommodations and take advantage of lower-cost local experiences. There are also potential cost savings with transportation. When you travel slowly, you aren’t in a rush to get somewhere as quickly as possible. This opens the doors for other transportation options than carbon-intensive flights, like trains or boats which are much more enjoyable! Food is also a major part of cultural significance, which you can explore more when you travel slowly. Instead of going to the closest restaurant, which is probably targeted at tourists, you can explore the local cuisine at a much more affordable price.

Tips To Make The Most of Slow Travel

1. Research, Don't Plan

While it is great to be aware of what is around you, you shouldn’t lock yourself into any official plans right away. If you let yourself go with the flow, you may find things that you would never find on TripAdvisor or Google Maps. Check out what things there are to do in an area so you know what other opportunities might exist too! Allow yourself to let go of the need to see and do everything. Instead of creating a rigid itinerary, focus on a few experiences that genuinely interest you and allow yourself the freedom to explore without a rigid schedule.

2. Choose Sustainable Transportation

Select eco-friendly transportation options whenever possible. Utilize public transportation, walk, and look for ferries instead of flights. Not only will this reduce your environmental impact, but it will also allow you to take in the sights of the area at a more leisurely pace.

When you move slowly, you also open the opportunity to meet other like-minded people. Enjoy the journey, and make that a part of the experience. It’s not just about the destination!

3. Stay in Local Accommodations

To further immerse yourself in the local culture, choose small, locally-owned accommodations such as guesthouses, bed & breakfasts, or homestays. These options often provide a more personal experience and can offer unique insights into local life.

There isn’t a better way to practice the language, understand the values and traditions, and connect with an area than staying with a local family. Not only do you learn, but you also help support locals. 

Check out Booking.com or HostelWorld for homestays. No matter where you look for your accommodation, check out the host, are they local or a foreign investor?

4. Travel in the Off-Season

If you go to a major tourist destination in the middle of peak season, you may find that tours are booked and accommodations are limited, which makes planning essential. If you travel in the off-season, you skip the massive crowds of stressed-out travelers, and you get to move more freely. 

Similarly, challenge yourself to get off of the beaten path. Explore new less explored areas. This can lead to unique and unforgettable experiences that you might otherwise miss. Just because you don’t see it as a trendy place on Instagram (yet), it doesn’t mean there aren’t new places to explore that will be more authentic and memorable.

5. Talk to Locals

There are no better people to connect with than locals. I’m guessing you didn’t travel to the other side of the world to connect with people who are from the same state/country as you. When you’re out to eat, ask the server if they know of any good viewpoints. Talk to shop owners about what they’re selling and be open to learning about local crafts and traditions.

These conversations will open so many doors for you – you never know who knows where the best waterfalls are, tricks to avoid tourist traps, or offer genuine connection!

6. Be Adaptable

Part of adopting a slow travel mindset involves being open to change and spontaneity. Be prepared to adjust your plans as needed and embrace the unexpected. This is where a lot of growth develops in you, as you learn to trust yourself in unknown situations.

You are capable and intuitive. Trust your instincts, and prioritize your safety, but also allow yourself to be uncomfortable and challenged. You never know what opportunities are out there until you’re open to them.

Summary - Slow Travel; Mindful Tips For Sustainable Trips

Slow travel offers a refreshing alternative to the typical fast-paced, checklist-driven approach to exploring the world. By embracing this mindset, you can deepen your cultural understanding, reduce your environmental impact, and create meaningful connections with the people and places you encounter. By following the tips outlines in this article, you can begin to adopt a slow travel mindset that aligns with the principles of sustainable and responsible travel. 

So, on your next adventure, remember to take a step back, slow down, and truly savor the journey.

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Sustainable Travel, 0 comments
Guide To Your Slow Travel Life

Guide To Your Slow Travel Life

The only thing keeping you from a dream life of slow travel is that you haven’t started the process of making small changes to get there! Or better yet, you don’t know where to start.

If that’s the case, you’re in the right spot. This post explains the major steps and considerations to make a life of long-term travel a reality for anyone. You’re probably tired of seeing people living your dream life, while you’re feeling stuck with the same rhythm you’ve been in for too long. 

I’m here to share how I quit my corporate job, left on a one-way ticket to put my bucket list items on the calendar, and started living for experiences. What are you waiting for? Your dream life of slow travel and adventure is ready for you to take! 

A globe against a blurry background

Table of Contents

Learn more to understand exactly What is Slow Travel, and why it's right for you.

Where To Start

Setting yourself up for a life of slow travel takes a few months of preparation, but you will thank yourself in the long run for the work you put in to set yourself up correctly! 

Of course, this depends a lot on where your life is before going into this transition, how much you currently own, what you want to experience on your travel, your budget, and your adaptability. This section breaks down some of the best starting points so you’re ready to tackle specific plans with more space on your plate.

Shed What You Don't Need

First, start assessing what you currently have in your life, in your space, in those boxes in the garage you haven’t touched for months. Now think about what you don’t need, and what you could get rid of before you even think about travel. 

Making space in your life physically will allow you more space mentally to take on new goals and projects.

A big decision that will need to be made is what to do with your current living situation while you’re abroad. Does it make sense to keep paying rent for the months you will be away? Are you in a good place to move out entirely and save on the rent expenses? Or maybe you will want to sublet your place on Airbnb to make some passive income while you’re abroad! 

Look for sustainable ways to get rid of things - Post it on a community Buy, Sell, Trade site. Donate it to a local thrift store. Gift it to a friend. Recycle it! Try to avoid sending anything to the landfill!

Get Ahead Of Your Health

In the early stages of preparing to pivot towards a life of travel, set yourself up for less stress down the line and check in with all of your health needs before you have something major on the other side of the world. We all know how long some doctors can take to get in for an appointment, so do yourself a favor and get in early.

Make a point to get a routine dental cleaning, get a routine physical, update on any recommended vaccinations, visit your gynecologist, and whatever else in your mental and physical health needs attention.

Budget

Budgeting is a crucial step in the beginning phase of planning for your travel as it will determine the plans you go with in later steps. You will have a lot of options for accommodation, transport, food, and excursions, so get yourself to a reasonable starting goal (that you can adjust later).

Be realistic with yourself and what you can afford to do, which will help you in the next steps as you ‘Take The Leap’ to full planning mode. Check out the full list of travel budgeting tips so you can cut back your costs and have a good expectation of the costs associated with a nomadic life. And in the meantime, save as much as you can!

Some additional costs that should be considered with a life of travel will be discussed more below, and include:
  • Storage Unit for personal belongings at home
  • Travel Insurance Coverage
  • Renter’s Insurance
  • Mobile Phone
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Public Transportation
  • Visas / Passport Renewal

Income

Long-term slow travel is only possible while the funds last. If you’re planning to take a leave from your job and travel for a while off your savings, then go ahead! Just make sure to focus on your budget, and be ready to say goodbye to a life that you’ll fall in love with 😉

“The answer will always be no to the questions you never ask”

If you’re ready for a full change, think about how you can make money remotely. Maybe you have a great digital skill that you can do freelance? Maybe you will incorporate your travel into your work, like with travel photography or a skills instructor at resort destinations (surfing, yoga, cooking)?

Get creative and be your biggest advocate! This is the chance to take a dream and make it a reality with a little bit of work and commitment.

Take The Leap

At this stage, you’ve got the ball rolling in the right direction, but with no real commitments made, you can still turn back to the life where you’ve cleared your space and belongings, prioritized your health, and assessed your budget, without any major time or money put into the real traveling planning. And that’s great if that’s where it ends!

But, if you are excited and ready to continue moving forward with the journey, it’s time to take the leap and start getting into some of the specific plans that need to be considered, like where you’ll be exploring, accommodation options, documentation, insurance coverage, banking, phone plans, and packing!

Choose Your destination

Throughout the weeks, months, or years of dreaming of a life traveling, maybe there has been a bucket list place you know you want to start, which is awesome! But if not, you’ll need to start focusing on a destination that you can build your plans around, and the time of year to plan on going.

Destination

 The world is a big place, and you will never be able to see it all. Luckily there are ways to get to every corner of it, so don’t worry, you’ll be able to explore wherever you want along the way, but you do need to start somewhere. 
 
Think about the destination as a region, rather than a place. Once you can focus on a broader region, the rest will fall into place with some research.
 
Focus on traveling slowly, so you can fully experience a place in the day-to-day, rather than focusing on plans and logistics of travel. Moving slowly will mean you stay somewhere for a longer period, get enriched in the local culture, meet people more regularly, and spend more time being than being on the move. 

When To Go

Be aware of the tourist fluctuations for the destinations you’re considering, especially if you’re on a budget. Travel in the shoulder seasons to save money in so many ways! There will be more accommodation and transport options, smaller crowds, and lower prices for excursions. Another benefit of off-peak travel, is you get a more authentic experience and meet some locals!

My partner and I arrived in Split, Croatia in mid-October, when we had plenty of summer days left to enjoy the coastline swimming in the sea, but without the crowds of other tourists!

 

Accommodation

Where you stay is completely dependent on your budget and the experience you’re looking to have.

If you’re on a tight budget, there are free options where you trade work for food & accommodation. This includes WWOOF, WorkAway, WorldPackers, and Trusted Housesitters

If you’re about to spend a bit, but still with a reasonable budget, check out month-long stays with Airbnb! This has been our top choice of accommodation, so we only have to pick 1 place for a whole month, it allows us time to settle in, and we get to fully immerse in a community. Stays over 28 days often have a long-term discount, so we save a ton vs. the nightly costs for a hotel or hostel.

If you’re doing more frequent travel and can’t commit to a month somewhere, hostels and hotels are an easy option, and Booking.com has a lot of options all over the world!

Girl sitting in a chair in front of an orange building, with plates of food next to her

Documentation

Depending on the timeline of when you hope to leave, start thinking about the validity of your Passport and any Visa requirements for the region you will want to go. 

These processes are the most out of your control, so it’s better to get them started sooner rather than later so they won’t hold you up, or force you to return home after a year to update, like I did!

Based on where you want to go, there are different requirements for entry that you need to check out! Some countries require a Visa depending on your country of origin, vaccination records, accommodation plans, bank statements, and even your confirmed plans of exit!

Knowing what your destination countries require will allow you to plan accordingly so you can avoid any bumps in the road (which are usually much more expensive to navigate on the spot).

Especially after the pandemic, global travel requirements are constantly changing, so make sure that the research you do is updated and accurate to when you plan to travel. Check out the Government websites on Entry Requirements to make sure you have everything you need before you go!

Insurance

Insurance coverage is a big one to tackle and can get a bit complicated if you don’t know what to look out for, and to be honest there are a lot of options! You can have a combination of health insurance, travel insurance, and renter’s insurance to make sure you and your investments are protected. Learn more about the types of insurance and the best options for you.

While traveling with a limited amount of things in a foreign place, knowing that you have support in the worst-case scenarios will offer you some peace of mind that you’re covered, so keep in mind these helpful tips to get started:

 
  • Check your credit cards for travel insurance coverage
  • Read the fine print for health insurance to check the exclusions (especially if you plan to do any type of physical activity)
  • Invest in Renter’s insurance to protect all of the things you will be traveling in the event it gets lost or stolen

Banking Smart

This step can be very easy if you already bank with someone who makes it easy for long-term slow travel, but chances are your bank will charge you ridiculous foreign transaction fees and ATM fees, which are easily avoidable! 

The following list is the 3 biggest things you’ll want to set up for a safe, cheap, and easy way to travel:

  • Credit Card that has 0 foreign transaction fees so you can use your card for all purchases without fear of fraud
  • A Checking Account that has unlimited foreign ATM withdrawals with no added fee
  • A way to budget and manage all of your finances so you can stay on top of it

Phone Plan

An easy way to feel overwhelmed as soon as you land in your first destination is not having any connection to the internet, or a basic phone plan to get you settled. Before you go, understand everything you need to know about an international phone plan so you can stay connected and save money.

You have a few options to stay connected if your current plan doesn’t already work where you’ll be traveling to, including:

  • Planning to use WiFi with no phone plan (which is unreliable and I definitely don’t recommend)
  • Switching to a local provider via physical SIM when you arrive so you don’t have any international fees
  • Installing an eSIM on your phone so you have connection when you land (best option!)
  • Getting a travel plan with your current provider (which is ridiculously expensive in some cases)

Don’t forget to have your friends and family back home get set up on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger so you can stay in touch without accidentally incurring international call/text rates!

Packing

While all of the plans listed above are in motion, you’re well on your way to making your dream life a reality! 

Now for the fun part, think through what you want to bring with you and how you’re going to move it all around. What you bring will be carried with you to every new destination, so do yourself a favor and only bring what you need, making space for things you didn’t know you needed until you arrive, and making sure to choose luggage that is comfortable and works for you.

By packing smart, you will incur fewer baggage fees (if any at all), save space and weight on transport which improves its efficiency, and also align more with a minimalist lifestyle! Learn the best packing hacks to stay organized while traveling.

This part can be daunting depending on your lifestyle and slow travel style, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make it easier to select what you will bring, and less stressful once you start your travels!

  • Pack Light (10 Days)
  • Use what you Already Have
  • Favor Functionality over Style
  • Versatility is Everything
An open suitcase that is being prepared for long term travel packing

On The Journey

Now that you have everything you need together, you’re ready to take off and make your dreams a reality as you take on this new lifestyle! But the key to traveling sustainably is making sure you can do everything you want, without breaking your budget or making wasteful decisions when you’re in a crunch.

Sustainable thinking has been important to get you to this point, but it is essential to keep you on this path so you can travel affordably and feel good about it! While you’re on your journey, the major areas of consideration include your transportation, what you eat, and making sure to record these memories that will last a lifetime!

Transport

The First Trip

The first step in transportation is how you get there, which is most likely going to be by plane unless you’re staying closer to where you live. Traveling by flight is not sustainable, but sometimes it is the only choice to travel. Check out how to book the cheapest flights, and learn about CO2 offsets. 

Budget flight apps like Kayak, Skyscanner, and Hopper can be great to save, but be aware of what it might cost. These options usually have an extra fee for luggage (including carry-ons), long layovers, and risk of missed flights. Skyscanner and Kayak are search engines, whereas Hopper is a booking agency. If you book a flight (or hotel) through the Hopper App, there aren’t as many guarantees as what you’ll book when going through Skyscanner and Kayak.

I also use Google Flights (in incognito mode) to check for the lowest dates, and compare this with a search on Kayak. I’ve found the most affordable options through these 2 methods, especially when you factor in the hidden costs that get tagged on the cheap flights.

Over 8% of global carbon emissions are from aviation alone. Try to take other transportation options like train, ferry, or bus to get between destinations! If you can't cut back on flights, where can you cut back your carbon emissions?

Continued Transport

Once you get to your destination, unless it is in a very rural area, you will find public transport to be much more accessible and reliable! Thankfully this is almost always the cheaper option, and way better for the environment for so many reasons. 

You won’t always be able to get exactly where you want to go the second you want it as you would with a car, but immersing in public transport is a great way to get the local experience, meet people, save money and see more of the country than you would on a major interstate highway.

For transport in between destinations, it is a great time to kick back, reflect, catch up on some sleep, or see the landscape. Trains are the most efficient means of transport, and often more comfortable than long-haul buses, but do be aware that almost all long-haul transport will have baggage fees which should be incorporated into the pricing (another reason to limit to 1 backpack)!

View out of a plane with a yellow sky and clouds

Food

No matter where you plan to travel, food and nutrition are major necessities but how you do it can be impactful to both your budget and the planet. Unless you’re doing a work exchange program where food is provided, you have the options of either eating out or cooking at home, both of which will give you a taste of the local cuisine and have their pros and cons.

Ultimately, grocery shopping and cooking at home will likely be your best option for your budget, but you can find some amazing deals around the town or city you’re staying that will cost you the same, get you out meeting locals, and prevent all the dishes you would have to do otherwise.

If you have any dietary restrictions, respect those as needed and make sure you know what the words are in the native language to prevent a reaction. Food is a major cultural aspect, so I encourage you to lean into the local cuisine as much as possible. 

For some, this may be easier said than done. I was a vegetarian for the greater part of 12 years and I got very used to this diet, especially living in California where everyone seems to be an organic, GF, vegan-only type of person.

Memories

At this stage, you put in all of the work and you made it to the other side. As much as you’ll want to disconnect and just be, these are moments that you will look back at with fondness as you share your experiences with friends and family for the rest of your life!

Take some time to reflect and record the places you go, the things you do, the people you meet, and everything you’ve learned (and unlearned). Take a small envelope/packing cube to keep memories stored while you are on your journey. You never know what you’ll want to bring with you, whether it’s the local currency, photos, tickets, coasters, or shells. And as beautiful of an area you’re in, don’t forget to get some photos with you in them as well!

Summary - Slow Travel - Guide to Long Term Travel

Like any long-term goal, the end may feel far from where you’re at.  Start the journey now with small steps every day, week, and month, and you’ll get to your goals in no time. Start with the small bites of addressing where you’re currently at, and make some space for the new.  As you free up some mental and physical space, you’ll be able to tackle specific planning of where you’re going and make sure your basic needs will be covered.  Most of all, be proud of yourself for making the jump and doing what you’ve always dreamed of.  

This is your one shot at life, what do you want to do with it?

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Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Sustainable Travel, Travel Planning, 0 comments