Traveling can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but unfortunately, it can also cause an immense amount of damage to the environment if not done responsibly. The goal of sustainable travel is to create a balance between economic expansion, human well-being, and environmental stewardship. It focuses on reducing the negative impacts of tourism and maximizing its positive benefits. This means being mindful of our ecological footprint and making conscious choices that support the communities, cultures, ecosystems, and planet when traveling abroad. Sustainable tourism takes into account both the current and future impacts that will be felt by future generations. To help you become a more sustainable and socially conscious traveler, here is a list of some eco-friendly travel tips. So if you’re looking to be more mindful of your environmental impact when traveling, these tips are for you.
Take An Unconventional Route
If you’re looking to travel more sustainably, one of the best things you can do is avoid popular tourist destinations. Many destinations are overrun and suffer from hordes of tourists, a phenomenon known as “overtourism.” To help prevent this, travelers need to avoid tourist traps and skip the same bucket list of destinations. Instead, explore less visited places for a more unique, authentic experience. Do some extra research to find hidden gems and smaller cities off the beaten path, or head to a rural area. If taking a cruise, opt for a small ship line, as they can visit smaller ports and carry fewer passengers. If you’re dying to go to a popular tourist destination, try to schedule your trip during the off-season.
Slow Down And Stay Awhile
It’s easy to get caught up in trying to fit in as much as possible when traveling, and it can be incredibly tempting to squeeze multiple destinations into one trip. But this “hit and run” style of tourism often leads to a rushed, stressful experience that keeps us from truly getting to know a place. Try opting for one longer vacation instead of several shorter ones, and take time to explore your destination fully. Slowing down to immerse yourself in the culture, build connections with local people, and experience the unique charms of the place can make for more meaningful, memorable trips. Plus, taking your time reduces the pressure on the cities and communities you visit and helps support local businesses. Slow travel is better for the environment, as it reduces the amount of carbon emissions from flying and driving. So next time you travel, try staying awhile and revel in the moments that you experience.
Use Efficient Modes Of Transportation
When it comes to eco-friendly travel, the transportation method you choose can make a big impact on your carbon footprint. Approximately 8% of global carbon emissions are caused by the travel and tourism industry, so it’s important to consider the most efficient and cleanest modes of transportation when planning your trip. Air travel and driving often have the highest carbon output, so opt for more sustainable methods like taking the train or coach to closer destinations. If you are already at your destination, consider taking a train, the bus, or cycling instead of renting a car. If you do need to rent a car, look for an electric, hybrid, or smaller model. It’s important to look into the transportation options available in order to make an informed decision. Different destinations may have different sustainable transportation solutions, so it is best to remain open-minded when deciding which option to take.
Conserve Water And Energy
When you travel, it’s important to conserve local water and energy resources. Turn off lights, TVs, and other electronics when not in use. Set the thermostat a few degrees higher when leaving the hotel. For bathing, opt for showers instead of baths and keep them as brief as possible. Hand-wash your clothes and hang the “Do Not Disturb Sign” to avoid unnecessary laundering. Accommodation choices can also reduce your environmental impact. Choose a lower-impact accommodation such as a smaller, more basic one or a higher-end property that uses renewable energy and water/energy efficient technologies.
Choose Accommodations That Are Sustainable
If you want to actively influence the industry to become more sustainable, choose accommodation and operators that are committed to reducing their environmental impact and contributing to the local community. Even if a company markets itself as ‘green’ or ‘sustainable,’ it is important to look into the specific practices and policies they have implemented. Some things to look out for are conservation practices, elimination of single-use plastics, diversity and inclusion, hiring local people and suppliers, and responsible interactions with wildlife.