Nowadays, many countries in the world rely much on the tourism industry. Some of them even don’t have any other commodity which contributed to their gross domestic products (GDP) besides tourism. No wonder that in 2010 there were over 940 million international tourist arrivals worldwide, increasing by about 6.6% compared to the previous year.
Tourism is obviously advantageous for a country, as it contributes to many other industries, including transportation, accommodation, culinary, and entertainment. However, it also has its drawback, especially for the environment. For example, particulates and gases from the airplane and car are greatly contributed to climate change and global warming. Then, tourists also produce many wastes, including in the form of unrecyclable material, such as plastic bags.
As tourism is important, for the countries and for the people, it’s impossible to apply to much restrictions to tourism. What we can do, as a tourist, is to become more responsible and apply green vacation etiquette during our travel. The one thing that not many travelers know, green vacation is not only environmentally friendly but usually also costs cheaper. It means, by applying these protocol, not just the earth that thank you, but also your wallet!
Some Tips for Green Vacation Etiquette:
1. Don’t travel too far. Search around your city, there must be a lot of attractions that you haven’t visited yet, like a museum, library, zoo, park, or mall. It’s really unnecessary to traveling abroad every time you’re on holiday.
2. Use train, as it has less carbon emission than a car. However, a car also has less carbon emission than an airplane. So, fly only if you must! Also, travel lightly during flight, as heavier the plane is, the more fuel that it will consume.
3. Still connected with travel lightly, you should rent your heavy gear. Many people choose to pack their own surfboard or diving gear separately from their luggage and then shipping it to the destination. This is not only inefficient but also cost more. Maybe they still think that they can only surf better if they’re using their own board (Probably true, but unless you’re a professional athlete, what does it matter anyway?). Just rent the gears!
4. Avoid renting a car in your travel destination. You can wander around town or go to famous tourist spots by using public transportation, rent a bike (which also healthy!), or even enjoying the scenery on foot. If you have to use a car, choose a new car, as it usually has a lower CO2 emission. Also, try to get acquainted with another traveler. Who knows you can get a new friend, and also share transportation.
5. Choose a local restaurant or cafe. Eating an American food on African soil, you don’t know how much the carbon emission produced for the raw materials transportation. This also applies for souvenirs, buy the local ones! Why do you even need to buy a French bag in Asia? Besides, we also need to give a contribution to the local economy, right?
6. Avoid eating foods which packed using plastic and styrofoam.
7. Choose a green hotel. Don’t worry, eco-friendly hotels and lodgings aren’t that hard to find anymore these days. Just use a search engine with “green hotels” or “eco-hotels” keywords, and you’ll see a bunch of websites showing the location of the hotels worldwide, and what actions that those hotels took so they got the environmental friendly status.
8. Minimize waste. This is probably the easiest steps for a green vacation, but also often forgotten. Bring your own canteen or bottle for a refill, bring your own shopping bag, use a recycled item are just a few examples to minimize waste. More importantly, always dispose of any litter on its place!
9. There are many tour programs that include a go green program and community development program, also known as volunteer vacations. You should join this tours, even if it’s a bit expensive. Hey, if you can be paid a lot to travel around the world, it’s only fair to also contribute for the planet.
10. Plug out all your home appliances during vacation. Electronics with digital displays, instant-on features or remote controls consume energy even while not in use. By unplug them all, you’ll save your electric bill, as well as the earth.