Sustainable travel can be achieved whether visiting distant corners of the globe or just enjoying some sun closer to home with a bit of planning. From cutting emissions to supporting local economies, here are some ways to make every journey eco friendly.
Find a tour company that provides tours using locally sourced guides and materials, bring along a reusable water bottle and place the “do not disturb” sign on any vehicles in order to reduce unnecessary laundering costs.
1. Use Public Transportation
Air travel creates the highest carbon emissions; whenever possible, take public transit instead. This will decrease traffic congestion and pollution for a more sustainable experience.
Taxis are another serious offender when it comes to sustainability; these vehicles consume large quantities of fuel while contributing to pollution in major cities.
Staying at eco-friendly accommodations is another effective way to reduce your carbon footprint when traveling. Look for hotels and tour companies with B Corp certification or membership of GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council). This shows they prioritize environmental, social, and energy conservation practices as part of their business model.
2. Walk or Bicycle
As travel restrictions ease and people return to traveling the globe, some are looking for meaningful and responsible vacation experiences. This may mean visiting animal sanctuaries or wildlife preservation parks; booking tours that highlight natural features while simultaneously not exploiting animals as much.
Social sustainability is another cornerstone of sustainable travel, meaning ensuring locals benefit from your activities. To do this, look for accommodation that prioritizes energy-saving practices and responsible waste disposal as well as opt for smaller luggage to decrease carbon emissions from transportation.
3. Consider Carbon Offsets
One effective strategy to decrease your carbon footprint is purchasing carbon offsets. Doing this allows you to offset emissions from flights by investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gas production elsewhere – such as reforestation, methane capture from cows or wind farms.
Many airlines provide carbon offsetting options that can be added to your flight booking, but it is important to remember that these don’t replace efforts at reducing emissions from travel – it should complement them, rather than replace them! As much as possible, try and use public transit, reduce meat intake, and try and limit flying where possible; protecting our planet this way will allow future generations to continue enjoying its wonders just like we have done is the only sure way.
4. Stay in Eco-Friendly Accommodations
Flights account for 11% of global emissions, so it is imperative that we find ways to travel more sustainably. While it is hard to avoid flying entirely, you can offset your carbon footprint by selecting airlines offering travel offset programs.
When booking accommodation, look for locally-owned properties. Consider staying in B&Bs, hostels or couchsurfing to support local business owners while lessening your environmental impact.
Whenever staying at a hotel, be sure to bring a reusable water bottle and metal straw (Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws daily!). Additionally, reduce waste by opting for reusable food containers and utensils when dining out.
5. Eat Local Food
Travelers can make a difference by purchasing locally grown food, opting for eco-friendly accommodations and using reusable products.
While this is an excellent first step, it’s important to remember that not all emissions can be reduced solely through changes in behavior and choices alone. Carbon offsets provide an effective solution to deal with emissions produced outside your control – read up on how carbon offsets work here.
One round-trip flight produces more emissions than many people can produce in an entire year! Therefore, whenever possible it is advisable to opt for air travel over road travel; when necessary choose an airline that considers seating capacity, cruising time, and fuel efficiency when making its selection.
6. Take a Local Tour
Flights are one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions when traveling. To reduce this impact, try traveling more locally; however, sometimes flights may be necessary and unavoidable.
Find tour companies that prioritize sustainability and are open about their practices, being wary of companies who make unsubstantiated claims about being eco-friendly without providing evidence, and always read reviews before making your choice.
For an authentic wildlife experience, select sanctuaries or preserves that prioritize conservation over exploitation and visit during off peak season to minimize impact on fragile ecosystems and decrease crowding.