Updated: Apr 5
Being an ecotourist has been commercialised. Some eco resorts that charge the world are doing pretty incredible work, and fund work class research in world class biodiversity hotspots. If you can afford to support those resorts, PLEASE DO. They are an epic bridge between tourism and conservation- and provide funds in an otherwise very poor realm! (Neverthless, these tips can also apply to you!)
But, for those budget travellers, who are ethically engaged, here’s five pieces of advice on how I go about maintaining a budget, enjoying travel and keeping my footprint low. There are heaps more things I can recommend- drop me a line for more advice: firstname.lastname@example.org otherwise here are the 5 easiest most accessible tips.
Eat at local restaurants. Honestly, this is win win. Real local restaurants are a lot, lot cheaper than the “pizza and chips” restaurants on the strip wherever you are. PLUS you get to eat heaps of fresh local produce and support local business. Food really is half of the experience and you’d be mad not to utilise a pad thai for a dollar.
Buy in op shops & only when I really really really need something Op shops are the the B*lls. Admittedly, not SO great out of cities, so utilise the inner city op shops when travelling, but only buy stuff you really really need (see point 3).
Go minimal. This one excites me. Going minimal with my packing was one of the biggest and best changes I made to my travelling. Packing the bare essentials give you so much more freedom- without so much weight you’re not left at the mercy of your heavy bag when you checkout of hostels. If you pack small enough you don't even need to check in baggage when flying (which is often an extra cost in Asia). Finding out how little you really need is liberating.
Invest in quality to start with, it lasts longer. Buying shit, will just make you buy more and more shit. Its breaks easy. Invest, in less, quality over quantity. Especially helpful with a minimal pack to have little of high quality, plus its easier to keep on top of your things. This is important especially for clothes. Try and source naturally fibered clothes, locally designed and produced, over polyester market wear. It will support local designers, natural fibres are better for reducing microfibres and you won't look exactly the same as every other traveller in Asia.
Eat Vegetarian or Vegan. Most of my diet when I travel consistents of veggie options. This has a number of benefits. (Number One, so to speak)… Its safer in terms of avoiding the toilet. It's much easier for meat to become contantimated. At source, at supermarket and then at restaurants. I’ve seen the kitchens of some island restaurants, selling sweet and sour chicken etc, and the chicken is stored either open, hung up, or over ice. Sanitation is not the same in the middle of Asia. Secondly, It’s normally cheaper. Three veggies are different in everywhere you go around the world, trying vegetable dishes give more scope to explore new tastes. Chicken is the same taste wherever you go. t’s more environmentally friendly. Apart from the whole general concerns with meat consumption, getting meat to sensitive areas, Islands etc, is tricky. It’s normally bought on mainland over a number of days and transported back, cooled and kept. Basically by eating how the locals eat, you’re doing yourself and your host a massive favour (links back to point 1). Locally produced meat is different, and especially important to note normally free of the big issues associated with commercial production of meat. Read the situation for yourself.