If you have the wanderlust gene, there is not much you can do about your travel addiction. But how can you reduce your impact on our planet when travelling? Chances are, you’ve already heard about sustainable travel. Avoiding plastics, eating local, respecting nature and wildlife, are just some of the ethical travel tips to help our environment. But that is just the start.
Easy sustainable travel tips that will help you to become a responsible traveller
With these 41 sustainable travel tips, you can make positive changes to help our environment. Not only you can learn how to travel better, but you will also learn to be an eco-conscious traveller.
Sustainable travel tips before you leave on your travels.
There is plenty you can do to help offset the effects of your travels before you leave your house:
1. Pack light
When laying out your clothes and thinking about what to pack for your travels, try to adopt a more minimalist approach. Instead of packing everything from your wardrobe, take the bare essentials. Mixing and matching your outfits will allow you to wear your outfits again. Not only it’s easier to carry less luggage, but it will also save you money on luggage fees. Most importantly, the weight of your luggage adds more weight to the planes. The heavier aircraft is, the more fuel needs to burn; hence it needs to release more carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
Flying with a piece of hand luggage only will also save you money on budget flights.
2. Pack reusable items
Make sure to pack zero waste travel items to reduce your waste when travelling. Packing reusable bottles, straws and also bags is key to more sustainable travel. Try to invest in more sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic, such as a bamboo toothbrush, reusable cutlery, or shampoo bars.
LEARN MORE: How Much Disposable Plastic We Use
3. Buy ocean-friendly sun cream (mineral sunscreens).
As you probably know, global warming is the biggest threat to coral reefs. However, chemicals which you can commonly find in sun creams contribute to damaging of our ocean’s delicate ecosystem. Many people don’t realize, but a lot of sun creams contain harmful ingredients such as oxybenzone. It is a crucial ingredient in many chemical sunscreens. Not only it causes coral bleaching and later their death, but it also causes damage to our skin. Hence, look for more environmentally friendly sun cream to help heal fragile underwater ecosystems.
GOOD TO KNOW:
According to the research, 14,000 tons of sun creams washes into the ocean every year. Moreover, 82,000 chemicals from personal care products may be polluting the seas.
Besides, try to avoid using the aerosols sprays as much of a sun cream fall to the sand, and it washes into the ocean.
LEARN MORE: Skincare Chemicals and Coral Reefs
4. Go digital to travel more sustainable
Try to avoid unnecessary paperwork on your travels. With some preparation and a few mobile apps, it is easy to travel paperless. For starters, we all have a smartphone in our pockets, they are handy devices. They allow us to store all our travel documents, download much-needed e-book guides and other important information. With the Wi-Fi connection in many hotels, restaurants and airports, it is easy to travel more sustainable.
Besides, you can always screenshot or photograph any travel documents and confirmations and keep them stored on your phone. And you don’t even need an internet connection to access all information. Alternatively, download everything on your tablet or computer.
Airline apps are excellent for online check-in, they also provide easy access to all information, such as flight details, schedule changes, reward point, etc. They store real-time boarding passes and are also easy to use.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Don’t keep copies of your passport, sensitive documents and also credit and debit cards on your phone.
TRANSPORT – Sustainable travel tips
5. Consider your mode of transport.
It’s no secret that flying is the worst mode of transportation when it comes to the environment. It might be the fastest and easiest option, but planes release a massive amount of carbon emissions into the air. Therefore, if you have the time, consider your mode of transport. Go flight free where possible. Not only it’s more sustainable, but it also allows you to reduce your carbon footprint. Besides, it might be cheaper too!
There are many sustainable transportations which allow you to see Europe without stepping foot on a plane. Travelling by bus, train or ship has a less negative impact on the environment. It gives you an opportunity for slow travel, and you can have a unique experience too! Another possibility is to rent a hybrid or electric vehicle as they use less fuel and produce fewer carbon emissions than an average car.
6. Fly direct for more sustainable travel
However, when it’s not possible to use a different mode of transport, consider flying direct. You are probably aware that planes release the most carbon emissions during the take-off and landing. Taking a direct flight instead of layovers will allow you to head straight to your destinations. Moreover, flying direct is more sustainable travel where you will have a smaller carbon footprint.
7. Choose your airline with care.
If you are flying, spend a little more time with research and choose your airline with care. Some airlines are better than others when it comes to their carbon footprint. Many airlines are looking to make their services more sustainable, from the fuel they use to plastic on board.
8. Carbon offset your flight.
Many airlines offer the option to carbon offset your flight during your booking. On top of the ticket price, a passenger pays an additional fee to fund an environmental project, such as project against deforestation or renewable energies. Offsetting your carbon footprint makes travel more sustainable. It helps us to reduce the effects of our travelling on our environment.
GOOD TO KNOW:
You can also do it yourself – choose where your money goes. There are multiple carbon offset schemes, such as Reforestum or Sustainable Travel International, which allow you to balance out the carbon footprint.
9. Be conscious of over-tourism
Many places in the world are struggling with over-tourism each year.
Destinations like Barcelona, Venice, or Bali have become victims of over-tourism. Roads full of tourists, litter, rising housing costs and air pollution are just some of the negative environmental impacts in tourist destinations. Hence, consider travelling where your presence would bring a positive impact on the local community. However, if you decide to visit one of the places that suffer from over-tourism, consider staying longer and during shoulder season.
10. Travel in low season
Travelling in low or shoulder season is one of the best ways how to travel responsibly. Not only you avoid long lines and sold-out tours, but usually, you can find better deals on flights and accommodation in low season.
Avoid visiting Europe during the summer months and the Caribbean from December to February. Travel off-season gives you a chance to better experience a place, with no crowds.
11. Opt for sustainable slow travel
Majority of travellers try to see as much sightseeing as possible in a short time. However, fast travel is not beneficially friendly to the local economy as sustainable slow travel. It has a negative impact not only on your wallet but also on the environment. By travelling slower, you have an opportunity to educate about culture, food and connect with the locals. Stay in one place for longer, rent an apartment for a short period rather than chasing bucket list ticks. Become a part of local life, appreciate the landscape as you go, and leave a positive impact on the local community.
12. Travel locally
With a virus around, deciding where and when to go can be a lottery, and it makes planning a challenge. Overseas travel is not always possible, but you can almost always explore your own backyard. Local travel is more sustainable travel. It is more flexible, less stressful and, easy to organize. Besides, domestic travel saves you money on airfare, accommodation and also transport.
13. Avoid cruises to travel more sustainable.
Cities suffer from massive overcrowding and pollution from cruise ships that dock nearby every day.
If you’re looking for ways to minimize your environmental impact when travelling, cruise ships are not for you. Cruise ships holidays offer great value for money and allow you to visit many destinations in a short period. However, look below the surface, and you realize that they have devastating effects on the environment. What’s more, they contribute less to the local economy than tourists staying at hotels. With not enough time to experience the culture in each port, tourists only rush to take pictures and buy souvenirs.
14. Walk or rent a bike where possible to take in more of your surroundings. You will discover new routes, exercise and save some money.
15. Use more eco-friendly public transport (buses and the metro) instead of taxis and tuk-tuks.
16. Visit a destination that values sustainable travel
More countries become aware of importance is sustainable travel. They are becoming more environmentally sustainable, protect the local environment and reduce energy consumption. Moreover, they value cultural heritage and also wildlife. When planning your holidays, try to choose a destination that values sustainability. You will be able to experience the best a country has to offer, and a local economy will benefit from your visit too.
17. Choose more sustainable accommodation when on your travels
Your choice about where you stay is almost as important as where you travel. Do your research and pick a family-run hotel rather than a chain. By supporting small businesses instead of all-inclusive resorts, you make sure that money stays directly in the local community.
GOOD TO KNOW:
It’s worth noting that not all hotel chains are not sustainable. There are many eco-hotels and ecolodges which operate eco-friendly practices. Many of them use renewable energy, offer organic linens and towel, use water conservation methods and respect natural surroundings. Hence, do your research before you book your accommodation.
18. Go camping or glamping
Camp under the stars to get a more authentic experience. Camping and glamping are better for the environment. Plus, they are an excellent way of how to reconnect with nature. However, if you decide to choose this option, make sure you take all litter with you.
Sustainable travel tips at the hotel
There are many ways how you can reduce your impact on the environment while staying at a hotel.
19. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
20. Keep your showers short.
21. Don’t use the hotel’s laundry and clean services to save on water.
22. Turn off the TV, air conditioning and lights when you leave the room.
23. Reuse linen and towels – you should not change your habits just because you are away from home.
24. Don’t use the free mini-toiletries at the hotel.
25. Swap your plastic toothbrush for a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush to cut down on plastic waste.
26. After you wash the laundry, hang clothes to dry instead of using a dryer – it saves a lot of energy.
27. Turn off all lights, AC and television when you leave your room.
28. Return maps and brochures once you’ve finished with them so somebody else can reuse them.
Alternatively, download offline maps onto your phone, so you can easily use them without an internet connection.
29. Eat locally
Head to a local restaurant and eat like a local. Not only it’s cheaper, but you can also support the local economy. When shopping, hit up a local street market and but some locally grown food.
30. Choose vegetarian or plant-based options
By eating vegetarian and plant-based options, you are reducing your impact on our planet. As you probably know, eating fewer meat benefits for a healthy lifestyle. What’s more, it helps to reduce greenhouse gases, land and water use. Animal agriculture is undoubtedly one of the largest contributors to global emissions. If cutting meat from the diet is not an option for you, choose more environmentally friendly meats. Also, be careful where you source your food from, buy local and seasonal produce.
Sustainable travel tips in nature
31. Stay on the path when hiking
When hiking, make sure you stick to marked hiking trails. By doing so, you avoid ruining the pristine landscape and damaging delicate plants.
32. Don’t get too close to wild animals
Wildlife plays a crucial part in keeping an ecosystem healthy; hence we need to safeguard their future. If you want to get closer to wild animals, make sure you never feed or touch them. Not only you can get animals’ attention, which often can lead to attacks, but they lose their instincts to hunt. Always keep a safe distance from wildlife and respect them.
33. Take care of the environment when snorkeling.
There are many steps we can take to make our underwater adventures more sustainable. To limit our impact of snorkeling on the environment, don’t touch the delicate corals. Avoid putting your feet down, so you don’t hurt yourself and the habitats you are observing. Moreover, don’t take any coral, starfish away for your entertainment. When diving, tuck in your equipment, so you don’ damage the corals.
SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL TIP:
Clean your boots to avoid transporting seeds and insect eggs to different locations as it could lead to invasive species.
34. Responsible wildlife tourism
As everyone knows, wildlife trips can be life-changing experiences. However, animal tourism is, frankly, awful. Illegally captured animals are abused for human entertainment. Behind closed door people selfishly take advantage of them just for the sake of profit. Act responsibly and stay away from dolphin tours, and don’t ride elephants. Also, avoid activities that attract animals to come closer to food. Instead, visit a wildlife preserve or sanctuary when you can see animals in their natural habitat. But do proper research, because not every place is ethical, even though they claim they are. Don’t buy souvenirs made from endangered animals.
35. Find sustainable travel companies
If you want to be an ethical traveller, do your research and choose a travel company carefully. Choose a business which promotes animal-friendly tourism. Tour companies that operate sustainable are passionate about protecting and preserving the destination. Smaller companies have less impact on the environment.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Watch out for greenwashing – misleading information about the environmental benefits of some products or services. Many companies sound environmentally friendly, but they are not.
36. Respect local customs
Respecting local customs and traditions is very important when you want to be a more conscious traveller. Learn more about religious beliefs, heritage and the way of life to have more meaningful adventures. Dress appropriately, be mindful when taking pictures, take rituals and ceremonies seriously. Learn a few words in the foreign language and the locals will treat you differently.
Other sustainable travel tips
37. Avoid single-use plastic
Single-use plastic is one of the biggest problems the human race face. Plastic bags, straws, plastic bottles, a wrapper on fruit or vegetable, each seems harmless. However, globally, only less than 10 % of the plastic we produce has ever been recycled. The rest end up polluting our oceans and an environment. They have a devastating impact on our health, oceans and also wildlife. Over time, plastics don’t break down but break up into smaller pieces until they become microplastics. They are very dangerous because they can cause an animal’s health issues and also inside our bodies. Hence, start reducing your waste in your everyday life.
38. Check local recycling options and waste disposal as recycling options vary when you travel.
39. Pick up litter or do a beach clean.
40. Leave no trace of your visit to ensure green tourism practices.
Don’t remove any object from the natural environment. Hence, take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
41. Spread the word about sustainable travel
Educate others about how to become a more sustainable traveller. Many people don’t think about their impact on the environment. However, they might start to think differently.
With the pressures of global warming and over-tourism, sustainable travel is desperately needed. After a year that no one could have predicted, none of us knows when we will be able to travel again without any restriction. But one thing is sure, and, that is that we need to be more conscious in the way we travel.
Do you have any other sustainable travel tips that we have missed off? Let us know in comments below.
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