Ok, so not all of us are going to build schools, dig wells or feed baby orang-utans when we go on holiday, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care! Here are five ways to travel lightly and make a (small) difference as you do…
Reuse your towels and soap
I really hate leaving used soap behind in hotels as I know they are very hard to properly dispose of, while so many diseases around the world could be eradicated by better sanitation. (Read my post on Where Hotel Soap Goes To Die about a company in American that collects hotel soap, washes it and distributes it). So, while it’s only a teeny drop in the ocean, I only use one soap and switch it between shower and basin as required.
I also try and use my towels for two showers (I mean how often do I change mine at home?!), although I know it’s SO nice to have a clean fluffy towel every time. What gets my goat is when hotels have a sign saying how they are looking after the environment by asking guests to hang towels if they wish to reuse them, then provide no towel rail!
Turn off your lights and air con
Conserving power not only helps the hotel’s own bills, but it creates less strain on the supply in general, especially important in countries where infrastructure might not be so robust. And let’s be honest you don’t really need to have your room chilled down to 18 degrees while you’re lying by the pool or out kayaking all day! Pull out your keycard from the door and shut off the power when
you leave, then crank it up upon your return.
Drink the tap water
I do love a hotel that delivers water bottles to your bedside each night. But as long as the local water is fit for drinking, use a glass as often as you can and save the mountains of plastic from ending up in a landfill or having to be shipped somewhere else for recycling.
Buy goods from the locals
When I stayed at the Outrigger Resort on Fiji’s Coral Coast I loved that the local women were allowed to come in and set up a sulu cloth on the ground and sell little trinkets.I bought a $15 ring and hope it makes a small difference. In Vanuatu I bought casava chips and fresh peanuts from the ladies at the produce market. If you meet local men and women running their small businesses, be it massages or selling homemade food, think about the difference your few dollars can make.
Take gifts for the kids
If you’re holidaying in the Pacific Islands or going to be visiting villages in Asia, try and visit a local school and take things like pens, colouring pencils, sharpies, books, balls, hair ties and skipping ropes. It’s so cool to see their faces and watch them jumping up and down in anticipation of the small tokens we can give them.
If you DO want to make more a difference on holiday, check out my friend Chris Hill’s amazing company Hands Up Holidays where you combine luxury family trips with real gritty hands’ on helping in the countries you visit. HandsUpHolidays.com