Sustainable travel practices help our beautiful world stay just that.
Sustainable travel has been the hottest topic in the travel industry in recent years, and the conversation is reaching every corner of the globe. In 2018, we know that traveling sustainably is not simply a fad, but a necessary practice that will help maintain the environments and communities we hope to experience for years to come. Traveling sustainably can be as simple as being educated, aware, and mindful of the impact you make; and as extravagant as planning your entire trip around eco-conscious travel experiences.
No matter where you are in your sustainable travel journey, the following tips can help you easily make a more positive impact when you travel. They are easy enough to fit naturally into your usual travel routine, which is essential in keeping your sustainable travel practices sustainable! Wow, I wonder how many times we will say ‘sustainable’ in this article?!
Airplanes are still necessary for international travel, so do your best to reduce your carbon footprint once you reach your destination.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the travel part of sustainable travel. How do you get from A to B in a more sustainable way? With transportation making up 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions, this is certainly one of the largest sectors affecting our planet and a place where we can often make the biggest changes.
International air travel undoubtedly has one of the largest carbon footprints of all transport options but is, for most of us, a necessary evil to make it to far-flung corners of the world. Not everyone has the time for overland expeditions! So, what can you do?
You can offset your travel carbon footprint. There are hundreds of carbon offset programs for travelers to choose from and booking with the right travel company or airline can mean offsetting at the touch of a button. Read more about how Anywhere helps travelers offset their carbon footprint here.
You can choose amazing destinations closer to home. If you live in North America, there are hundreds of bucket-list-worthy trips right on your doorstep in Central and South America, like these beautiful beaches.
When you do reach your destination, you can reduce your carbon footprint by taking public transport or using your own two feet to get around. Walking is free, fun, and fantastic for the environment!
Ecolodges offer beauty and comfort, but go out of their way to forge a good relationship with the environment.
Hotels around the world contribute a significant proportion to local economies, and help employ millions of local people. Hotels also use a disproportionate amount of local resources in order to give travelers the comforts they desire on vacation.
When booking your trip, taking a little more time to research accommodations that are invested in sustainable travel practices can make all the difference. Many of the hotels listed in our travel guides are dedicated to social and environmental sustainability and these accommodations in Peru and Costa Rica really stand out.
When you have checked in, there are also a number of very simple ways you can help reduce your impact. You can choose not to have your sheets and towels changed daily. You wouldn’t do this at home, so why do so on vacation?
Single-use plastics are also a big issue when it comes to sustainability in the hotel industry. Bring a filtered water bottle with you to reduce the use of throwaway plastic water bottles. You will also save money buying extra water. You can say no to plastic straws in your happy-hour cocktail, and skip out on small hotel cosmetics in favour of using your own.
That beach tote you pack can do double duty as you visit city markets.
Traveling more sustainably is all about making small changes that fit easily into your usual travel routine. One area that can make a big impact is in your packing. We’ve already mentioned bringing a refillable, preferably filterable, water bottle with you. The reduction of single-use plastics doesn’t need to stop there.
At home, you are probably used to packing a reusable bag with you when you go shopping. Do the same when you travel, and you will be able to say no to a plastic bag when you visit local markets and souvenir shops. Metal or bamboo straws for drinks and Tupperware for takeaway or leftovers are two more items you can pack to say no to plastic.
When it comes to cosmetics, don’t waste your money on tiny travel sized bottles. Try to take any finished products home with you where the recycling facilities are more likely able to process the plastic. Go a step further and make the switch to organic products. This is especially important when visiting more remote destinations; harsh chemicals in your toiletries could cause serious damage to fragile ecosystems.
We’ve talked about the environmental impact of travel so far, but traveling responsibly and sustainably is also about how you behave and interact in the local communities you visit. Being kind, being generous, patient, and understanding are all ways to behave responsibly when you travel. Doing so can truly make a world of difference in the interactions you have with locals, and ultimately, the way you feel about your trip.
When travelling abroad, do your best to be gracious and adhere to local customs.
Be kind and generous in both your social and commercial interactions with locals. Take time to get to know people and ask questions about local culture and traditions. Tip generously and haggle for fun, not for the best possible bargain. An extra dollar and a smile can turn a simple transaction into a lovely memory.
Be patient and make a point of trying to learn and understand the place you are visiting. The best way to do this is by hiring local tour guides which also generates jobs and income for locals.
Being a responsible traveler also means being respectful and making sure your behaviour, language, and dress align with the local culture. Dressing modestly and staying quiet in spiritual and historical locations are just a few ways to do so.
Sustainable travel practices like those listed above are not drastic, time-consuming, or expensive. They are small, positive ways to make a difference when you travel. Factoring these tips into your travels will not only help keep your own trip sustainable, but also help push the industry towards a more sustainable future. The more sustainable travelers there are today, the more people can experience the joy of travel in the future.
We love discussing sustainable travel and you can read all of our sustainable travel advice and articles here.
Jade House, Anywhere Contributor