20 responsible travel resolutions for the new year

Given the UN has named 2017 the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and all, there’s really no better time to start thinking about how to make more responsible and sustainable travel decisions. Scroll down for 20 resolutions worth taking on board for a cracking year of feel-good travel ahead.

Travelling sustainably is easy in the Seychelles, where I enjoyed this beach all to myself in 2016 © Sarah Reid
Travelling sustainably is easy in the Seychelles, where I stumbled across this idyllic beach in 2016 © Sarah Reid
  1. I will l say no to plastic bags, bottles and straws while travelling. I will remember to bring my own reusable water bottle, a reusable carry bag, and if I must use one at all, a reusable straw (how cute is the ‘pacific gold’ stainless steel straw set from Clean Coast Collective?).
  1. I will not ride or cuddle any wild animals in captivity. Likewise, I will not compromise the welfare of an animal (or myself) to take a selfie with it, or support the cruelty of animals by attending animal-based shows such as cockfights, bullfights, rodeos and circuses.
  1. I will reassess my travel bucket list, removing experiences from that list that I now know are irresponsible and/or unsustainable. I will accept the fact that there is no glory in doing something dodgy just because I see other travellers doing it.
  1. I will endeavour to explore more of my own backyard to help support my local community, and help limit my carbon emissions.
  1. I will suck up the tiny fee and tick that carbon-offset box when I book flights.
  1. I will take the time to research the culture and customs of the places I visit to ensure I do not disrupt or offend the communities I visit in any way.
  1. I will invest in long-lasting, ethically produced (and ideally natural fibre) travelwear rather than throwaway fashion (brandsforgood.com makes this easy thanks to its partnership with ethical fashion and lifestyle brands dedicated to making a difference).
  1. I will make my travel toiletries bag more environmentally-friendly by investing in products such as biodegradable shampoo, mineral make-up, and natural, reef-safe sunscreen (I am hanging out to test-drive Sun and Earth natural zinc).
  1. I will seek out the most sustainable travel accommodation in my budget, and make a conscious effort not to waste water, electricity or food while I am lodging there.
  1. I will make a conscious effort to purchase responsibly and sustainably-produced souvenirs on holiday. While I’m at it, I will resist the urge to take natural souvenirs, such as seashells, which play an important role in the local ecosystem. Check out tooraretowear.org for some scary stats on the tortoiseshell (really turtleshell) industry.
  1. I will seek out more responsible and sustainable travel activities on holiday. If you’re headed to Laos, here are some great ones I found in Luang Prabang.
  1. When I travel on tours, I will endeavour to book with travel companies (Intrepid, Responsible Travel and Eco Companion are great options worth checking out) that demonstrate a commitment to operating responsible and sustainably. I accept that this will involve doing my own research, rather than taking operators at face value.
  1. I will be more engaged with the destinations I visit, making more of an effort to meet local people and support community-run businesses and initiatives.
  1. I will use my feet more when I travel, eschewing taxis and other transport in favour of spending more time exploring in each destination.
  1. I will learn how to be a more ethical photographer. This includes being more mindful of others if I use a selfie stick. For more tips, check out this interview with wildlife photographer and founder of rad wildlife photography blog faunographic.com Rachelle Mackintosh.
  1. I will be more conscious of the welfare of children when I am travelling, resisting the urge to give in to begging children, or participating in a volunteering program I haven’t thoroughly researched. See thinkchildsafe.org for more info.
  1. I will learn a few phrases in the local language of the places I visit to help me engage with local people I meet. I will take the time to listen and learn from these people to better understand their way of life.
  1. I will try to leave no trace when I travel, and make an effort to carry trash back home with me when I visit regions (such as Bali) that aren’t equipped to dispose of my rubbish responsibly.
  1. I will make more responsible dining destinations on the road, being sure to research local dishes I should avoid because they are unsustainable and/or cruel.
  1. I will do my bit to educate and inspire fellow travellers and destination hosts about the importance of travelling responsibly and sustainably, and spread the word about fantastic sustainable travel destinations, operators and initiatives I discover on my travels.