As climate change continues to alter the way we live our lives, it is important now more than ever to travel sustainably. It is necessary to find the balance between protecting the environment of the places we travel to while also being responsible tourists. Too many beautiful beaches and breathtaking destinations have been negatively affected by visitors’ disregard of the local ecosystem and economy. Making travel more sustainable is essential in order to keep these locations alive and thriving for tourism. Here are our pro-tips for sustainable travel.
Choose a Sustainable Destination
There are so many countries and cities all over the world that choose sustainability by using renewable energy sources, addressing environmental issues, and working to reduce their carbon footprint. For a traveler trying to be eco-conscious, that is a huge green flag. Several European countries fall into this category of eco-consciousness because of the creation of the European Green Deal, which aims to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. New Zealand’s goal is to completely cut fossil fuels by 2025. Ecuador, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, has created a constitution giving rights to the environment. In Madagascar, visitors can help the nation by booking a nature-saving trip using a sustainable tourism company like Earth-Changers.com. There are plenty of places all over the world that support sustainability.
Use an Eco-Friendly Accommodation Booking Site
A great way to offset your carbon footprint is by using an eco-friendly accommodation booking site. These types of websites will give you a multitude of eco-friendly accommodation options at various price points. Bookdifferent.com only has eco-certified hotels on their website, which means these hotels reduce their use of plastic, invest in their community by promoting the local culture, and help guests choose the best modes of transportation for getting around the city.
Opt for Trains over Planes
In 2018, carbon emissions from commercial flying made up approximately three to nine percent of all global emissions, which is a 32 percent increase from 2013. Although many airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and airports are taking steps to provide customers with greener options, traveling by train is often cheaper and always more eco-friendly. Most airports are located outside of the city, which means not only will you have to take a taxi or use public transportation to get to the city center, but it may also cost you more. Taking a train from one city center to another is more time-effective, more eco-conscious, and at times cheaper.
Eurostar’s study examined the CO2 produced per passenger on a flight from London to Paris versus the same journey by train. This study found that choosing a train over a plane cuts carbon emissions by 90 percent. Of course, sometimes selecting a flight over a train is necessary, so looking into eco-friendly airlines will aid in your journey to travel more sustainably.
Pack Reusable Items
When you first begin to travel more sustainably, personal responsibility is the perfect way to start small. Instead of buying plastic water bottles every day, bring a reusable water bottle that can be refilled. The same goes for bringing your own microfiber towel. It’s a slight adjustment but makes a big impact compared to using the towels provided by hotels. Numerous eco-friendly travel items can help you make an easy switch, including:
– Shampoo and conditioner bars from Lush.
– Solid perfumes from Ulio & Jack
– Reusable makeup wipes, like The Original Makeup Eraser
– Reef safe sunscreen from any brand on Save The Reef’s website
Slow Your Journey Down
With so many beautiful sights to see all over the globe, the fast-paced travel trend feels necessary, but there is something just as fulfilling in slowing down and staying in one place longer. Slow traveling leads to forming a deeper connection with the destination, the locals, and the culture. The trip becomes more authentic and connective. Slow travel also provides more opportunities to support the economy by eating local food or staying with locals. Plus, slower travel means less CO2 emissions going from place to place, which is a bonus.
Eat with the Locals
Not only does shopping and eating locally help decrease your carbon footprint, both when you’re traveling abroad and at home, but it also allows exposure to an entirely different culture. Eating local helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions because the food doesn’t have to travel far to get to your plate. It also supports the local economy by encouraging sustainable agriculture practices by local farmers. Eating with the locals will allow you to have priceless conversations that may not occur at large chain restaurants.
Beware of Greenwashing
The push for companies to become more sustainable means that some will take advantage of the situation by advertising how eco-friendly they are without making any meaningful changes. This trend is called greenwashing. It happens in the travel and tourism industry when hotels advertise their practices to be greener than they are or when “eco-friendly” tourism companies hire outside of the local population. To avoid falling for greenwashing, it’s best to research before booking. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council lays out the global sustainability standards for hotels, tour operators, destinations, and much more. It is the best way to cross-check the standards before booking a hotel or tour.
Lead Photo Jérémie Crémer Unsplash