Sustainable tourism and travel is becoming increasingly important for people when booking a holiday or a trip of any kind. Questions like; what will be my carbon footprint for this journey? How will my travel impact on the local population and culture? What products should I or should I not buy?
This is a wonderful development in personal travel, no longer are people only thinking about what impact their travelling will have on themselves, but on what impact their travelling will have on the places they visit. It is as much about what you leave behind, as what you take away.
Learning a foreign language in the country where that language originates is a great example of how travel and tourism can be made more sustainable, but there are a few things we would like all language students to consider when booking a course.
These are our top 5 tips to make your language travel more eco-friendly and sustainable:
Can you get to the UK or Ireland by train or by ferry for example? Sometimes the journey can be as fun as the arrival at your destination…
If you are coming from outside Europe then the cheap flights to places inside Europe are very tempting to visit new cities at the weekend. Did you know though that you can get to Paris and Brussels by train with the Eurostar? Also consider using the UK’s rail network to visit towns and cities on the island – Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bath, Bristol, Exeter are all beautiful and fascinating examples of British culture.
2. Food and drink
Totnes is the home of the transition town movement – moving to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of life. One of the key aspects of this movement is where we source our food from. In the town of Totnes you can find organic shops, local farmer markets and locally sourced produce. Buying from these shops rather than the major supermarket brands will help you reduce your environmental impact.
Tap water is safe to drink all over the UK and in Ireland, it is much more sustainable than buying bottled water. If you do need to use packaged food then make sure to recycle wherever possible.
3.Accommodation and cultural exchange
Wherever possible, stay local. Using a local homestay is a great way for you to learn about the local culture, as well as teaching your host something about your culture. Make sure to ask questions of your host, where can you recycle, what are the cultural norms to consider in the local area, how can you contribute to a sustainable society?
Economically it is better to give your money to a local host than to a large international hotel chain.
Research your destination before you travel to find out the small and interesting things that make that destination different to where you come from. How do British or Irish people greet each other? Why do we drink so much tea? Why do we talk about the weather so much?
If you want to read more on this topic read “Watching the English” by Kate Fox
4. The local environment
The UK and Ireland are beautiful natural places with incredible scenery and wildlife. You can help preserve this environment by following a simple phrase that you will see all over the UK, including on Dartmoor, the National Park near to Totnes:
“Take only pictures, leave only footprints”
5. Contribute what you can in the time you have
Sometimes language travel can be too short, you have only 1 or 2 weeks and you want to learn as much English as possible. But there are some great ways to learn English and to leave a positive impression outside of the classroom. Can you volunteer for a local organisation for example? This way you will meet local people, practice your English but also leave your impression on a project that might benefit from your unique sets of skills or experience.
Any other tips for fellow travellers? Please feel free to leave them in the comments section below or on facebook using the hashtag #leaveonlyfootprints