Calling all conscious travellers.
If you already travel with a keep cup and refillable water bottle but are looking for new ways to spread your conscious-traveller wings, read on.
The spotlight is well and truly on conscious travel (over two million Australian’s have indicated their intent to travel green this year), making now the perfect time to consider re-designing your itinerary to put the planet first.
To help you plan, here are nine ways to up your conscious traveller game next holiday.
1. Find an eco-tourism operator
Not sure where to start in the eco-travel sphere? Team up with an eco-operator to find your eco-travel match.
Just like the Heart Foundation tick of approval, nature tourism, ecotourism and advanced ecotourism have been awarded their own stamp of approval to help you identify when an operator is eco-certified.
For domestic travel, look to organisations like Ecotourism Australia who take the guesswork out of picking accommodation by listing operators that carry the correct certification.
Read our top 10 green getaways in Queensland.
2. Book environmentally friendly accommodation
Before you jump onto an online travel agent and book the first hotel that comes across your search, you’ll need to know what you’re looking for.
Eco, green, sustainable – there’s different language used to describe environmentally-friendly accommodation and they each combat sustainability in their own special way.
From the establishment reducing their carbon footprint (aka: a LEED-certified hotel) to contributing to conservation of the surrounding environment – you’ll need to read the fine print to find out how the hotel is contributing to the environment.
3. Use pedal power to explore a new city
Move over cars, buses, trains and ridesharing, it’s time to think differently about how you explore a new destination.
Tie up your laces, don a helmet and grab the handlebars next time you play tourist.
Not a cyclist? That’s ok. Step it out along the tourist hotspots.
Of course, if your destination is a big city (read: New York, Barcelona or London), there will be times when you’ll need some assistance getting around.
While you can’t avoid transport options altogether – keep this in mind when selecting your accommodation and planning your city hit list and try to keep everything within walking or cycling distance.
For a destination focused on pedal power, we’ve got you covered.
4. Spend your money with local operators
Travelling to Machu Pichu or another location that draws thousands (or millions) of visitors each year to marvel at their local attractions?
A sustainable traveller gives back to the local community – from buying local textiles or gifts (hello family Christmas presents), to dining at local restaurants or hiring a local tour guide.
Just remember, while buying locally injects funds back into the community, ensure the gifts are thoughtful presents, not touristy souvenirs likely to end up in landfill.
5. Do as the locals do
Swap your tourist hat for a local hat and live like a local.
Enrol in a language class or learn how to cook traditional dishes with cooking classes.
While it’s easy to fall into tourist trap activities, there’s plenty of ways to experience your destination through a local lens.
Looking for a getaway focussed on immersing yourself in local cuisine? Check out this guide of top foodie getaways.
6. Put sustainability into action on your holiday
Conscious travel decisions don’t have to be limited to where you stay, what you do and how you do it; it can be the primary purpose of your holiday.
From helping to build sustainable housing in India to volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary in Borneo or exploring permaculture garden projects in Timor, find your passion project and holiday with a heart.
Spend a few days (or weeks) with a local community and learn how remote locations and cultures are adapting to sustainable ways of living.
If voluntourism sounds like your perfect conscious travel match, read more here.
7. Leave nothing but footprints
Repeat after us: “Take only memories, leave only footprints.”
The Maldives reported travellers left behind 3.5kg of waste per day, turning a small nearby island into a rubbish island and effectively threatening the lagoon’s eco-system.
While you fill your Instagram feed with images in remote locations and make your followers double-tap with envy, it’s important to ensure nothing is left behind.
Make this your holiday mantra to ensure your conscious holiday remains environmentally friendly from start to finish.
8. Visit small communities rather than big cities
Swap high rise buildings and skyscrapers for smaller cities, towns and provinces off the beaten track to spread the tourism-love.
Ease into this approach and stay in the quieter neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the big cities, like swapping Manhattan for Brooklyn, before giving the Big Apple a miss altogether and exploring lesser-visited places like Connecticut, Massachusetts or New Jersey.
9. Choose off-peak
Not only does off-peak usually mean discounted or cheaper travel (for more tips on finding cheap flights, swing over here), it’s also the perfect opportunity to support small business during their off-season and provide a consistent income to businesses throughout the year.
You win. They win.