A guide to travelling more sustainably
19 February 2019
Many Australians love to travel.
In fact, the numbers of Australians departing overseas for short-term visits almost doubled in the 10 years between 2006 and 2016, according to the Australian Board of Statistics.
Travel during retirement is particularly rewarding, as you don’t have the pressure of returning to work – meaning you’re free to take your time and immerse yourself in your destination. However, all this enjoyment shouldn’t come at the cost of sustainability.
Sustainable travel is a concept that relates to our impact as tourists both on the natural world and the local people we encounter. Here are a few tips to help make your next adventure more environmentally-friendly.
1. Don't always default to air travel
Trains are a great way to travel between countries, especially in Europe and South Asia. Not only are they often cheaper, and you get to skip the chaos of airports, you can also experience a unique view of the country as you rattle through while also cutting your carbon footprint.
And while Australia's size is vast, in your retirement years you probably have more time to take those longer train journeys through our lands of green and gold.
2. Get behind local vendors
For many, souvenir shopping is an integral part of any trip, and the items we buy become tangible reminders of our experiences. It's easy to fall into the trap of purchasing items that look like traditional, locally-manufactured goods but are actually mass-produced elsewhere specifically to dupe unknowing tourists.
While the authentic equivalents are sometimes pricier, this money is often the only livelihood for the vendors. By buying from them, you not only contribute to the local economy, you’re supporting what are likely to be generation-old crafts and trades in your chosen destination.
When it comes to food, why not try eating as the locals do? Consuming local produce is not only fun and interesting, it also reduces your carbon footprint. Shopping at markets means your food hasn’t been transported great distances to get onto your plate and the produce is, more often than not, grown without harmful pesticides.
3. Research your tour operators
Guided-tours and excursions are a great way to learn a bit more about the places you're visiting. While it can be tempting to pick the provider with the glossiest brochure, this can be at the expense of local operators who depend on guiding for a source of income.
As well as supporting these individuals, you're much more likely to gain an authentic insight into the daily lives of locals from someone offering smaller scale, more personal experiences, as opposed to commercialised operations.
4. Keep saying no to plastics
More and more Australians are opening their eyes to the serious dangers that plastic presents to wildlife, and the planet at large. While we're starting to see changes at home, depending on where you holiday you might find that standards are different. However, you can still do your bit!
Bringing along your trusty reusable water bottle, coffee cup and reusable shopping bags means you can still be kind to the environment, even if you’re far away from home.
Plastic straws are a common offender you will encounter in restaurants and cafes around the world. Every day, half a billion are used in the US alone, according to the National Park Service. So make 'hold the straw' part of your drinks order.
For more information about eco-friendly living, including sustainable investing, take a look at our blog.