How to have a sustainable holiday in 10 simple steps

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Sustainable tourism strives to minimise the impact on the environment and respect local people and cultures. By offering economic benefits to local businesses and communities, sustainable travel can provide a memorable experience for travellers, whilst helping to protect the destinations for future generations.


Gap Adventures, a leader in adventure travel, has put together 10 tips to ensure you help protect the communities and places you visit while on holiday.


Respect the culture

Respect the culture

  • Take some time to learn about the country you are visiting. Local customs and traditions may be different from your own and should be respected. Find out what behaviour is acceptable and what isn’t. For instance, when entering temples in Asia wear long trousers or skirts and keep shoulders covered. Learning a few words in the local language can go a long way and is appreciated by the local people. It also makes your interactions more meaningful and memorable.
  • When witnessing local living and working conditions, which are different to your own, many people forget their manners. Always ask permission to take photos of people and respect their wishes if they refuse. If you do take a photo, offer to send copies back to them and make sure to follow through with your promise.
  • A simple way of having an impact on many people’s lives is to bring practical gifts to a host family, school or community that can bring long-term enjoyment. Items to consider include books or durable sporting equipment. If you opt for gifts such as balls, don’t forget to bring a pump too so they can be enjoyed for longer. Choose presents that are not easily available, mixed with locally bought presents that support the economy.


Reduce waste

  • Recycling is extremely limited or non-existent in most developing countries, and everything you discard as rubbish will just add to the community’s waste. Avoid products with excess packaging, and remember to choose drinks in glass bottles, as they tend to be re-used. A big way to reduce waste is to bring a reusable water bottle with you, filling it whenever possible. By bringing water purification tablets with you, you can further reduce waste from disposable plastic bottles. Consider also bringing your own personal towel, an on-the-go alternative to paper towels.
  • Batteries are incredibly toxic. Many communities do not have proper hazardous materials disposal facilities, so if you use batteries bring them back home with you for proper disposal. If possible, use rechargeable batteries – but make sure you bring a battery charger and plug adapter!
  • Water systems in developing countries need to be protected, and bringing products such as biodegradable shampoo can make a big difference when visiting parts of the world that have fragile water systems. Such products should be easily available from your local camping or outdoor shops or online. Also, remember if you brush your teeth outdoors, try to stay at least 50m away from waterways.


Stay on the trail

  • Straying from the trail while hiking can contribute to erosion and harm the environment. Keeping on designated trails and paths is an easy and critically important way you can help to preserve the local ecology for future generations. Remember the timeless traveller’s mantra: take only pictures, and leave only footprints.
  • It should go without saying, but do not buy products that exploit wildlife, aid in habitat destruction, or come from endangered or protected species. If you are unsure if a product meets international criteria (or your own), consider purchasing other products.


Stay on the trails


Think about where you stay

  • When booking your travel, look for small-scale or locally owned lodging, and use local and public transportation. While you are visiting a community make an effort to support locally owned businesses, and where possible, incorporate community-based ecotourism projects into tours. There are many ways you can “give back” to the people and the places you visit.
  • Booking your trip with companies that support sustainable tourism means you can be secure in the knowledge that the activities planned are designed to support and even benefit the local communities. Gap Adventures is a leader in sustainable travel and is dedicated to offering low impact tours, which benefit the communities as well as the traveller. By establishing thePlaneterra Foundation it demonstrates its ongoing cultural, social and economic commitment to responsible tourism.

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