Ms. Bray suggests following the mantra of “leave no trace” when visiting a destination, as the creation of solid waste — particularly plastic — has significant environmental impacts.
“Travelers can help reduce their waste production by carrying their own reusable bags, straws, utensils, and takeaway containers,” Ms. Bray said.
Tourists can also choose to spend their money with businesses that source locally.
“This may be through eating locally grown foods or purchasing locally produced handicrafts. Often times, making the more sustainable and locally beneficial choice is actually more enriching,” Ms. Bray said.
When visiting a destination that is facing a specific issue, whether it’s an environmental crisis like a water shortage or an economic hardship, consider ways you can contribute to the community, and enjoy your trip while enriching the place that’s enriching you. However, not every approach is a good one.
“Sometimes giving back while traveling can have unintended consequences,” Ms. Bray said, like increasing communities’ dependence on tourism or charity, or channeling work away from locals and to seasonal workers.
Ms. Bray suggests contacting the ministry of tourism for the destination to find out how to best support the issue. You can also ask your hotel or tour operator if they have recommendations for how to best get involved.
Know your tour operator
Some tour companies are better than others regarding environmental conservation, protecting wildlife, supporting cultural heritage and employing local guides. In general, choose operators that are transparent about their support for the communities they visit.