Sustainable travel is becoming increasingly important as the effects of climate change become more evident. However, it can be difficult to know how to travel sustainably. There are many factors to consider – from the mode of transport you choose to the accommodation you stay in and the food you eat. We can help preserve the environments and cultures we visit by making small changes in our travels. Here are some simple tips to follow on your journey toward sustainable travel.
1) Research and Support Sustainable Accommodations
When it comes to sustainable travel, one of the most important things you can do is choose sustainable accommodation. By staying in eco-friendly hotels, guesthouses, and Airbnb, you can help reduce your environmental impact while traveling. However, it can be difficult to know which establishments are truly sustainable
Researching your accommodation is key – look for hotels certified by eco-labels such as Green Globe. The site at Sustays is also a great resource for finding sustainable accommodation. Most sustainable accommodations have been vetted for sustainability.
Additionally, you can support sustainable accommodations by practicing responsible tourism and respecting the local community and environment. Leave no trace behind, avoid single-use plastics, and opt for eco-friendly activities.
2) Choose Responsible Transport Options
The transport options you choose when traveling also play a significant role in sustainability. Flying is one of the most environmentally damaging forms of transportation – so try to limit your air travel as much as possible. Look into alternative options such as trains or buses, which tend to be more efficient in fuel consumption and emissions.
If flying is necessary for your trip, offset your carbon emissions through an organization such as Carbonfund.org. And remember, carpooling or using public transportation while at your destination can also help reduce carbon emissions. Plus, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.
3) Support Local Businesses and Markets
When you spend your money at a local business, up to 68% of that money is recirculated into the community. Only 43% of your purchase stays in the community when you shop at a big chain store. So by supporting your local businesses and markets, you are not only keeping more of your money in the community but also encouraging entrepreneurship and strengthening your local economy.
There are lots of ways to support your local businesses and markets. You can shop at farmers’ markets instead of supermarkets, buy gifts from local artisans instead of big box stores, eat at restaurants owned by locals rather than chains, and so on. Volunteering or networking with local business owners can also get involved in your community.
4) Reduce Single-Use Plastic
Single-use plastic is one of the biggest environmental threats, becoming increasingly apparent in the travel industry. Plastic straws, water bottles, and disposable cutlery are common sights at airports and on vacation, but they often end up littering beaches and oceans.
But there are easy steps we can take to reduce single-use plastic while traveling. Bring a reusable water bottle or tumbler with you and refill it wherever possible. Carry a reusable shopping bag or backpack to avoid using plastic bags for purchases. And say no to disposable cutlery and straws – bring your travel utensils or ask for them not to be included in your meals. Every small effort helps.
5) Respect the Environment and Local Culture
We should always respect the places we visit and the people who live there. But for sustainable travel, it’s essential to impact the environment and local culture positively.
Respect wildlife by not littering or interfering with their natural habitats. Follow any rules or regulations in national parks or protected areas. And respect local cultures by learning about and following their customs, dressing appropriately, being open-minded and understanding differences, and supporting local businesses rather than contributing to negative effects of tourism such as over-development.
6) Educate Yourself and Spread Awareness
Sustainable travel is all about constantly learning and improving our practices. Educate yourself on the issues facing a destination before visiting, and continue to learn while you’re there by talking to locals and researching responsible businesses and organizations. And don’t forget to spread awareness and share your knowledge with others – the more people that know about sustainability in travel, the better.
There are many ways to share your experiences and knowledge, such as writing about your journey in a blog or vlog, posting on social media, or simply talking to friends and family. And remember – sustainability is a continuous process, so keep striving to make better choices and improve your impact as a traveler.
Sustainable travel may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By following these simple tips and staying mindful of our impact on the environment and local communities, we can all make a difference in promoting sustainability in travel.