As travelers, responsible tourism needs to be at the forefront of our minds. Traveling is a privilege, so it’s our responsibility to take care of the places we step foot in. And responsible tourism is especially important when visiting Iceland. The country’s fragile vegetation and soil paired with the constant stream of tourists make it a destination that we need to be especially careful about taking nothing but photographs and memories and leaving only footprints.
We live in an incredible world. Let’s take care of it, so we can continue to explore and experience its beauty. For starters, we need to be aware of the impact we’re having on our destinations and even our home. There are numerous ways we can travel more responsibly, especially in Iceland, so here are a few easy tips to keep in mind, whether exploring close to home or faraway destinations.
Spread the love.
Don’t limit your travels to the most popular attractions. All around the world, iconic spots are being overrun by tourists. Visit lesser known attractions and stay in cities or towns that aren’t as popular. For example, in Iceland, venture out of Reykjavik to lesser known destinations and explore sights not just right off Route 1.
Bring a reusable water bottle.
Avoid buying plastic water bottles. In Iceland, there’s absolutely no need for them. The water straight from the tap is extremely safe and tasty. If you’re planning to visit an area where you’re concerned about the tap water, buy a reusable water bottle with an attached filter.
Invest in a reusable shopping bag.
Say no to plastic bags. If you need groceries or plan to go shopping during your travels, a fold-up reusable shopping bag or backpack allows you to easily hold these items without having to use any plastic bags.
Don’t off-road & stay on hiking paths.
Off-roading and straying from paths can damage fauna. Hiking in Iceland and many other scenic countries is often the best way to see the natural side to a beautiful destination. Explore the unknown, but don’t let that journey take you off paths you’re meant to stay on. In Iceland, the vegetation and ground is especially fragile and can take a long time to grow back if damaged.
Let nature be.
Explore this amazing world of ours, but don’t disrupt ecosystems. Let memories and photographs be your souvenirs, not rocks, sand, or whatever else you may come across in nature.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir
Pack out litter, even if it’s not yours.
Sometimes you’ll come across trash while hiking or exploring a city. Have extra space in a backpack, so you can leave your destination better than you found it. Even though Iceland is an extremely clean country, chances are you’ll occasionally find litter at popular tourist attractions or you may come across rubbish washed up from shore. Pick up what you can, and recycle or throw the litter in a trash bin when you are able.
Eat, drink, and shop local. It’s important to spend money when you visit a destination and support the local economy. Find locally-owned restaurants, lodging, and stores to support during your travels.
Are you visiting Iceland? Inspired by Iceland has an Icelandic Pledge to be a responsible tourist. You can take the pledge at InspiredByIceland.com.
How can we make responsible tourism a priority when traveling? How do you travel responsibly?