Traveling around the world is not cheap – monetary or environmentally friendly. As the jet setting lifestyle becomes more and more attractive, individuals face a drastic increase in their own carbon footprint as they circle the globe.
But what if there was a way to travel with minimal environmental impact? A way to still enjoy the world without contributing to its destruction?
Enter: Sustainable Travel.
The million dollar question today is how to travel sustainably and see the world in an environmentally responsible way. Fortunately, it is becoming easier and easier to choose sustainable destinations, stay in environmentally conscious accommodations, and contribute directly to local communities.
Here are our top tips for sustainable travel so that you can feel good while globetrotting!
7 tips for sustainable travel
Spend the night in Green Hotels
If you already have a destination in mind, staying in a green hotel is a big vote for sustainability.
Green hotels go one step further in sustainability and strive to be environmentally friendly in all their efforts. This does not mean that they save on luxury and amenities. It just means that they are more environmentally conscious.
A green hotel doesn’t follow a single format, but they are all unique in the way they give something back to the environment.
Camp Glenorchy in New Zealand offers net zero energy accommodations. The Salinda Resort in Vietnam is committed to reducing plastic on the property and organizes a monthly beach cleaning. Pikaia Lodge in Ecuador is a climate-neutral property built from recyclable, environmentally friendly materials.
Finding a green hotel doesn’t have to be difficult. Check out platforms that support sustainable travel, such as Bookdifferent.com, which lists properties around the world that offer responsible stays.
Even if they are not strictly “green” hotels, many accommodation options do their part by furnishing rooms with sustainable goods. So it’s worth it Find out which environmentally friendly products they use.
Choose your destination wisely
No fixed travel plans yet?
It should come as no surprise that not all goals are the same, but this also applies to sustainability. Some countries are much more aware of sustainability and travel, and have infrastructure and programs to support such efforts.
For example, European countries such as Denmark, France and Switzerland are some of the most sustainable places in the world despite their large influx of tourism. Cities in Slovenia and Spain are also celebrated as goals that leave a light footprint.
At the more exotic end of the spectrum, the small island of Palau in Micronesia has committed all visitors to protecting the environment and heritage of the region before they can enter.
Many other seductive islands in the Maldives and Galapagos Islands are also good choices when it comes to sustainability, as they place special emphasis on protecting the surrounding waters and reducing waste.
In addition to choosing sustainable places to travel to, it is also worth looking at destinations that require tourism to boost the local economy. Check out places like Puerto Rico and the islands in Indonesia that are hit by natural disasters but rely on tourism to rebuild the local economy in the event of a crisis.
Choosing your destination is the first step to a sustainable journey, because it directly determines where your money goes.
Would you like to give it to a country that will reinvest it in fossil fuels? Or would you prefer to contribute to a local economy that is environmentally friendly?
It’s your decision.
Give something back to local economies
A large part of sustainable travel is the return to the local economy at the community level.
When it comes to booking activities, tours or treks, looking for local experiences and giving something back directly to individuals.
When you book through large companies, almost none of the money you spend goes to local communities in the region. Instead of participating in a large tour group, you’ll find locals to show you around, local artists to support you, neighborhood chefs who run a cooking class, and local markets where you can buy your goods.
This not only ensures that your money goes to the people who need it most, but it also drastically reduces the carbon footprint. By buying local products, you do not consume imported goods while keeping money in the community you visit.
Choose sustainable activities
A good way to give back something while traveling and reduce your carbon footprint is to choose sustainable activities.
Visiting places like marine protected areas directly helps conserve water, and hiking on marked trails in national parks helps preserve the local environment.
Many local organizations and tour operators actually offer sustainable activities for travelers – it’s up to you to find them. A great place to look for such activities is Intrepid Travel, where travel is done by local executives to support the local economy.
While sustainable activities may not be as common, if you want to reduce your environmental footprint, you should not do any captive activities with wildlife, mounts, or buying wildlife products.
Remember: say no to dolphin shows!
One of the easiest ways to travel sustainably is to reduce your own waste. Make these decisions wisely and with the environment in mind, as you have direct control over what you buy and consume.
At the base level, say no to plastic and use reusable products (water bottles, straws, coffee cups, bags). Choose smaller portions so that no food remains remain. Bring home half-used hotel soaps and shampoos that would otherwise be thrown away, and return the cards to the front desk for other travelers to reuse.
These actions may seem small, but they become something extremely important. It is up to you as an individual to dispose of waste while traveling and to choose environmentally friendly alternatives instead.
Save water and electricity
Even if it seems obvious, the saving of water and electricity contributes significantly to sustainable travel.
Instead of taking a long bath, choose a quick shower instead. Hold the Do Not Disturb sign on your room door to prevent your bed sheets from being changed and washed daily. Turn off the heating or air conditioning when you leave the room and never leave the TV or light on (even if you don’t have to pay the electricity bill).
These little actions make the difference and have something you have direct control over. If you are aware of your water and energy consumption, you can save in both areas to use only what you need.
The planet will thank you!
Opt for slow travel
After all, one of the best ways to travel sustainably is to choose slow travel.
Buses, trains and boats are much more sustainable travel methods than flying. Even driving has a smaller ecological footprint than flying 30,000 feet in the air.
Choose road trips if you can (they’re fun, I promise!), Use public transportation and see the landscape from a train window. Make yourself comfortable in a night bus and, if possible, drive across the country and with carpooling.
If you have to fly, choose one consciously IATA member airline That has carbon offset programs that let you feel good on your flight. It is also worth checking what sustainability efforts the respective airline makes in terms of waste and energy consumption.
Sustainable travel is primarily in your hands. It is entirely up to you how you spend your money, use up resources and get from point A to point B.
But do you know that there are sustainable alternatives to classic travel methods. There are efforts that you can make on an individual level to counteract the environmental damage of travel.
All it takes is a conscious mindset and a green perspective. You will travel sustainably before you know it!
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