Sustainable travel means making choices that reduce your impact, from using reusable straws and climate friendly travel shampoo to leaving places cleaner than when you arrived. There’s plenty you can do!
Experts advise travelling during the off-season in order to alleviate stress on destinations’ ecosystems from too many tourists at once, and visiting national parks and protected areas as an effort towards conservation efforts.
1. Minimize Your Carbon Footprint
Making strides to minimize your carbon footprint when traveling is one of the best things you can do. Where possible, opt for walking or using local transportation instead of driving your own car. Select destinations and accommodations with sustainable practices such as using renewable energy, reducing water consumption, recycling waste and employing recycling systems. When flying is necessary opt for direct flights that minimize take-off and landing times as these generate the highest emissions; additionally carbon offsetting programs exist which support renewable energy generation or reforestation efforts that help offset travel emissions.
Sustainable travel begins by choosing to eat locally-sourced food. Not only is it often cheaper and fresher than imported fare, but eating local also reduces greenhouse gas emissions as the food doesn’t need to travel long distances before reaching your plate. Look out for products labeled farm-to-table, farm fresh, bean-to-bar or local artisanal as these could all help support sustainable practices in travel.
When traveling, be sure to pack reusable items such as water bottles, shopping bags and utensils – this will reduce waste while helping cut down plastic consumption while away. In addition, participate in beach and trail cleanup events so your trip remains as eco-friendly as possible!
Less is often more when it comes to travel. Packing lighter will decrease your baggage’s weight, thus decreasing emissions produced in transport and allowing easier movement through airports and train stations where carrying a heavier suitcase could impede movement.
When booking your flight, consider choosing an environmentally-friendly airline like Norwegian or JetBlue that emphasizes sustainability by investing in clean energy and aircraft fuel efficiency. Visit their websites to gain more insight into their environmental initiatives and commitments; in addition, inquire at your hotel to see what initiatives they’re undertaking to support sustainable travel practices – it may be easier than you think to find such information!
2. Travel Slowly and Intentionally
As travel restrictions have eased and consumers return to planning and booking travel arrangements, sustainable travel has emerged as an increasingly prominent topic of discussion. Many travelers are exploring its many benefits while searching for ways to reduce impacts of their trips on destinations, locals and wildlife.
Sustainable travel means taking it slow and deliberately. Doing so gives travelers more time to seek authentic experiences, connect with local communities and reduce their environmental and cultural impact while exploring nature in all its beauty. And it gives us precious memories to cherish for years afterward!
This type of travel should not be confused with ecotourism, which encompasses responsible tourism practices that take into account environmental, social and economic effects associated with natural areas tourism. There has also been a shift toward “regenerative travel,” with travelers striving to leave destinations better than they found them and encouraging conservation activities as part of their stay.
No matter the terminology employed, most travelers believe that the future of travel and tourism will include an increasing emphasis on responsible and sustainable practices. Nearly all travelers (94%) say that they want to make an impactful difference through their travel decisions going forward.
Because of this, a more cohesion and consolidation approach to sustainability in travel is necessary. Industry stakeholders must collaborate on finding common themes and solutions to some of the biggest sustainability challenges while creating one unified voice on behalf of responsible travel and tourism.
When it comes to planning and booking more sustainable trips, travelers prefer viewing information in the form of listings or pages on travel sites (54%). They also prefer video content showcasing eco-friendly features and recommendations (53%), as well as reading reviews from fellow travelers (41%). Other important sustainability considerations that may influence purchasing behaviors are price premium, cumbersome purchase experience, and lack of rewards/acknowledging from vendors.
3. Stay in Locally Owned Accommodations
Traveling sustainably isn’t only better for the planet – it can also be more fulfilling! This is particularly evident when it comes to local experiences and cultural immersions; our research indicates that over 70% of consumers would pay more for sustainable travel options.
Finding locally owned accommodations is a straightforward and economical way to connect with local culture while supporting small businesses and artisans in a place. Furthermore, sustainable hotel chains and rental companies have increasingly prioritized sustainability practices with programs like low energy lighting, water conservation and waste management available for guests’ enjoyment.
Wildlife offers both ethical and humane ways of experiencing animal interactions – just be sure to do your research beforehand! Animal sanctuaries, nature preserves, guided tours and animal refuges all make great places for animal encounters without exploiting animals for tourism purposes which is detrimental to their wellbeing and health.
Transportation emissions are one of the primary contributors to climate change, so it is vital that when traveling you consider how you’re getting around. Trains, buses or even carpooling may offer more sustainable travel alternatives than flying.
Consumers seeking sustainable travel options, prefer listings or information pages (54%) as the source for such content delivery. Videos from other travelers and reviews also prove effective methods.
For sustainable travel to be realized, all parties involved need to come together. This includes travelers themselves who should be mindful of their actions as well as hotels, airlines and tour operators services as well as governments and local authorities that have an obligation to reduce environmental impacts of their activities. Travelers have an additional role of sharing positive or negative travel experiences in order to promote change among other travelers; more people speaking out about sustainable experiences will cause others to follow suit and make adjustments on their own.
4. Eat Locally
One of the easiest and most sustainable ways to lessen your environmental impact when traveling is eating locally. By supporting local farmers, businesses, and preserving natural and cultural resources while enjoying authentic cultural cuisine from your destination country.
If possible, choose restaurants that use biodegradable and/or reusable containers, cups and utensils when dining out. You can further reduce plastic waste by bringing a reusable bag, water bottle and travel mug with you when dining at restaurants or other venues. When ordering takeout food instead of plastic bags if that is an option.
When purchasing souvenirs during your travels, always shop locally owned shops instead of larger chain stores. Doing so helps the community while supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs – plus the items purchased are likely to be unique and special!
Keep in mind that not all locations or cultures can support large numbers of tourists, and overtourism has an adverse impact on both the environment and local populations. Furthermore, overtourism strains tourism infrastructure which already experiences heavy visitorship during peak seasons.
Sustainable travel aims to limit overtourism while making use of natural and cultural resources while contributing to community well-being. Practices for sustainable travel include traveling responsibly by selecting eco-friendly transport options, staying in accommodations owned locally, and engaging respectfully with land and local people.
While these travel tips can assist with creating more sustainable travel, it is also essential that we adapt our thinking when it comes to sustainability. Instead of treating sustainable travel as a separate category of tourism – budget or luxury alike – by adopting it into every aspect of tourism we can all be a part of the solution and create a better and more responsible world for generations yet unborn.