West South Travel

Six Ways to Travel More Sustainably

The following branded content post is brought to you by AIG Travel Guard. When I was asked to co-host AIG's solo and sustainable Twitter chat and write about sustainable travel here, I was all too glad to participate. I hope to see you at the chat on Friday!

We could all stand to do better when it comes to traveling sustainably. There's more to it than choosing a green hotel and turning off the water when you brush your teeth.

Sustainability, at its core, is about making as positive an impact in your travels as possible. That means making compassionate decisions about where to spend your money, how to protect the environment, and how to interact with locals in order to leave the destination just as good or better condition than how we found it.

How can we make the most positive impact as a traveler? Here are some tips.

Support small businesses whenever you can.

On almost every occasion, you can eschew chains in favor of choosing a small local business. When you do this, you're ensuing that the money goes into the pockets of local entrepreneurs, not CEOs who really don't need a fifth vacation home.

Additionally, take time to support as many small businesses as possible, particularly when it comes to dining and shopping. You might find the most amazing textile shop on your travels and want to buy something for everyone in your family , and while that's wonderful for the people who work in the textile shop, it's less than ideal when you could be buying things from several different shops.

Educate yourself on local sustainability issues before your trip.

If you do any amount of research before your trip, don't just look up the cool restaurants and hipster neighborhoods , also read about local issues and how they might affect your trip.

You might not be aware that there's a drought in your destination, for example, and that water needs to be conserved even more closely than usual. If there's significant unemployment, that might add to an increased amount of homelessness.

One of the biggest examples of this is elephant riding in various Asian countries. Elephant rides, no matter where they are done or what kind of place it is, are a form of animal cruelty. There is no way to train an elephant to give rides without abusing them, and no place that offers elephant rides should be financially supported.

One of the best things travel bloggers have ever done is create mass awareness about the cruelty of elephant rides. Because of their efforts, hundreds if not thousands of travelers have avoided elephant rides since.

Travel sustainably when possible.

In an ideal world, nobody would fly, ever. But if that were the case, few people would travel, ever. While flying is often unavoidable, there are ways to reduce your environmental impact.

Consider taking direct flights rather than indirect flights when you can. Consider contributing to a carbon offset program, of which new ones seems to spring up on a regular basis.

And once you arrive in your destination, stick to public transportation, rent a bike, take shared taxis, or walk whenever you can. If you're driving, choose a hybrid vehicle if possible.

Eat locally and within the seasons.

It's funny how things change over time. Having the finest tuna flown in from Japan used to be the hallmark of fine dining , nowadays, people are more interested in the basil that grows in the restaurant's rooftop garden.

Local and seasonal dining used to be the only way to dine , and it's nice that this year many restaurants are taking seasonality seriously even when you can get any food at any time of year. Focus on eating things like asparagus in the spring, tomatoes in the summer, squash in the fall, and root vegetables in the winter.

Another great way? Visit a farmer's market! This way you'll be eating locally, staying within the seasons, and supporting local farmers.

Plan to donate a set amount of money to a local charity.

Before you arrive, consider making a donation to a local charity. You may want to donate to a local food bank, school, animal shelter, or a local NGO. Chances are you'll come across one in your travels or hear about one from someone you meet.

If you can't find anything during your trip, local charities are easy to find online afterward.

Donating an amount of money you can afford is a kind way to ensure that your visit has a positive impact on the local community.

Talk to people , but also listen.

The easiest way to create cross-cultural understanding is to talk to locals whenever you can. Don't use them as window dressing or Instagram props , make conversation.

Learn a few words of the local language , "hello," "thank you," and "delicious" are three good words to start with. And if there's no language barrier and it turns into a longer conversation, continue the exchange , talk about your own life as well. Don't seek to interrogate; seek to exchange and understand.

Join me in a Solo and Sustainable Twitter Chat on Friday, June 16 at 2:00 PM EDT!

I will be co-hosting a Twitter chat on solo and sustainable travel with AIG Travel Guard and Cassie De Pecol, who recently broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest person and fastest female to travel to all 196 sovereign nations.

Join us for fun travel conversation , and the chance to win prizes, including a $100 gift card and a basket of travel gear curated by Cassie.

Date: Friday, June 16

Time: 2:00-3:00 PM EDT

Hashtag: #WhereNext on Twitter

Prizes: $100 gift card (three winners) or basket of travel gear curated by Cassie (Grand Prize)

RSVP: Please RSVP here in order to be eligible to win.

You can see the full list of rules here.

Note: you must RSVP to the chat in order to be able to win! RSVP here.

See you there on Friday, June 16, at 2:00-3:00 PM ET!

What steps do you take to be sustainable while traveling?

The best 5 beaches in Cambodia

Cambodia has some of the most incredible temples and fascinating history in the whole world. You can happily spend days marvelling at jungle-clad temple Ta-Prohm, or the intricate pink bas-reliefs of Banteay Srei. But if youd like to swap shrines for the seaside, just for a little bit, Cambodia is also home to a collection of islands that may just be the source of all those beach clichs.

Cambodia and beaches... sandy resorts lined with boozy backpackers? Its not far from the truth in some areas, but luckily, there is more than enough paradise to go around in the Gulf of Thailand. Expect lush forests, white sand free of footprints, freshly caught food and glorious wildlife, if you know where to look

Otres Beach, Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville has a reputation as a haven for party-lovers, but take time to look beyond Serendipity Beach to Otres. Otres is away from the main stretch and as such, the sand and sea there is generally cleaner and the beach quieter. It stretches for about 2km, so if there are a few too many sun loungers for your liking, continue further south. If you get bored of snoozing, or having a paddle, head into one of the shacks that line the sand for a spot of dinner and a cool beverage. There are a handful of boutique resorts here to trail home to after a quiet drink, rather than a bar-hopping bonanza.

Long Beach, Koh Rong Island

There are some islands that have, somewhat unfairly, gained a bad reputation. Koh Rong Island is one such example. While in Koh Touch youll find the odd full moon party and buckets of sugary cocktails, 7km Long Beach has calmer, quieter waters, small fishing villages and untamed forests. At night time, you can shun the bright lights of the beach party for the underwater luminous glow of plankton. Koh Rong is a great base for adventure too. Go diving to spot busy marine life and a rich variety of flora and fauna, jump in a kayak to glide through some of the more remote areas, or hire a mountain bike to break up those long lazy days on the beach.

Long Beach, Koh Ta Kiev Island

Major development may be on its way to Koh Ta Kiev Island, so to catch it at its best we recommend visiting soon. Like many islands, it has been purchased by foreign investors who have thus far only built a road through some of the forest. As it stands though, Koh Ta Kiev Island is a blissfully quiet white-sand escape perfect for hiding away from the world. The accommodation here is laid-back rather than luxury which only adds to the charm, and the forested backdrop provides a great place to go trekking and spot wildlife.

Koh Pos Beach, off the coast of Sihanoukville

Koh Pos is an undeveloped island just off the coast of Sihanoukville. Quiet beaches, tangled jungle habitat (with plenty of animals to make friends with, perhaps not the snakes) and a marked absence of bars and resorts. The Treasure Island Seafood restaurant does serve some of the best food around though. Like the situation on Koh Ta Kiev Island, Koh Pos is also changing rapidly with a planned Russian development of new hotels and the arrival of a giant bridge joining the island to the mainland. At the moment though, the situation is serene. Just keep your valuables close, the monkeys that live here are convicted pick-pockets.

Main Beach, Koh Tonsay Island

Only a 25-minute boat ride from Kep, Koh Tonsay is one of the most easily accessible Cambodian islands. Boats bob on the water and fresh seafood is served just a few metres from the hammocks. Why not team up with a local fisherman to catch your own? The sand here is yellow rather than white, and there arent any five-star resorts, but if youre looking for peace and quiet under palm trees, spectacular sunsets andthe sounds of waves lapping the shore, this will do, I suppose.

Alastair Donnelly is Director at InsideAsia Tours.

If you would like to be a guest blogger onA Luxury Travel Blogin order to raise your profile, pleasecontact us.

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