You may be wondering how to responsibly travel when there's usually no way to avoid air travel. We explain how below ... photo by CC user Denniss on wikimedia

With the Earth at a crossroads, wanderers everywhere are actively seeking out how to responsibly travel. There are many ways to discover the world without contributing to its destruction; below, we go over several ones that can help you have the maximum amount of positive impact on the environment…

photo by CC user Dual Freq on wikimedia

1) Buy carbon offsets

There’s no way around it: air travel is one of the greatest impacts on the environment that the travel industry has, burning up countless gallons of jet fuel that contribute to the ongoing problem of climate change.

Fortunately, you can displace the carbon that you burn up by purchasing carbon offsets, as the money that you contribute these bonds go towards the creation of carbon sinks like new groves of trees to replace clear cut forests, or to fund renewable energy projects that replace the burning of fossil fuels with clean electricity.

photo by CC user adventurespf on Flickr

2) Respect the local culture

The place where you are going sure ain’t Kansas, so don’t act like it is when you arrive there. Take a few hours in the days before leaving for a new destination to brush up on the local customs first, so that you don’t make an innocent hand gesture that might deeply offend somebody.

From not touching monks on the head in Thailand, to not giving people a “thumbs up” in Italy or Greece, a few seconds of internet research can save you from an awkward and embarrassing moment overseas.

photo by CC user dgmckelvey on Flickr

3) Support small and family run businesses

While it is easy to flock to familiar restaurants, hotels and other multinational corporate brands when abroad, doing so keeps those that desperately need an economic boost from your tourist dollar impoverished.

By supporting local hole in the wall eateries, market stalls and guesthouses over the usual suspects (McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Holiday Inn, and so on), you will be making the lives of those in the local working class that much better.

This way, your money will find your way into their hands instead of largely being shipped overseas to bank accounts where it will sit collecting interest for some obscenely rich old dude that doesn’t need it.

photo by CC user30291875@N06 on flickr

4) Recycle and use public transport whenever possible

Many despair over the state of the environment in developing countries, as waste control is often lacking, but they often default to what the locals do (throwing trash on the ground, not recycling, etc), thinking that there is nothing they can do.

Hold on to that piece of trash as long as necessary to find a receptacle, and make a point of finding accommodations that make the effort to provide recycling options whenever possible. Also, when you can take a metro train instead of taking a cab, leap at the chance. You’ll interact with the local populace more, spend less time in traffic, and spew off less carbon emissions in the process.