Wondering how to travel sustainably? Regardless if you’ve already packed your bags or are still in the daydream stages of your next vacation, it’s important to know how to make your trip as green as possible. With these 9 sustainable travel tips, we’ll cover everything you need to know about sustainable traveling.
What is Sustainable Traveling?
Before we get into the tips and tools of sustainable traveling, let’s lay some groundwork. “Sustainable travel” can encompass many aspects, and it likely means something a little different for each traveler. Here’s what it might look like:
- Practices that ensure the long-term tourism of a place without bringing damage to natural and cultural environments
- Accommodation that makes use of renewable energy, water recycling, low-waste models, and other practices that minimizes their impact
- Use of greener modes of transportation
- Itineraries packed with eco-friendly activities
- Consumption of local, seasonal, and mostly plant-based foods
- Avoiding excess—excess souvenirs, excess food, excess alcohol, excess travel-size (practically single-use) items
Sustainable travel, also known as ethical tourism or eco traveling is important because as we begin to incorporate trips to far-flung destinations in our yearly plans, we put those destinations at risk. Tourists are increasingly influencing the wildlife, landscapes, food, and people of the places they visit.
Not properly managed, our vacations could potentially damage history, environments, and culture in ways that can't be reversed. That said, it’s important to realize that all tourism will have an impact. Taking steps to travel sustainably can help you minimize your next trip’s negative consequences.
How to Be a Sustainable Traveler: 9 Tips
The benefits of traveling can’t be understated. Science has proven time and time again that travel makes us healthier, relieves stress, boosts our creativity, enhances feelings of happiness and satisfaction, and lowers the risk of depression.
At the same time, tourism is linked with a range of adverse environmental impacts. To keep those as minimal as possible, you can consider the following 9 tips so that you can travel sustainably—without missing out on any of the fun.
1. Consider a staycation
You don’t need connecting flights or a passport to have a great holiday. Local adventures are greener—and they’re a great way to become acquainted with close-to-home attractions! Use a long weekend or time off work to explore local museums, try new restaurants, or check out all of the nature your area has to offer.
2. Opt for slow, low-impact transportation
Albeit quick, air travel is almost always the least sustainable way to get from A-Z. Compared with car travel, it has almost twice the CO2 emissions. Compared with taking the train, it has a carbon footprint that’s more than 10 times as high!
If you can, take a roadtrip instead of a flight. Even better, choose a train or bus to get to your vacation spot. If you do fly, look for direct flights and book economy seats, as both are associated with a smaller air travel carbon footprint. You could also look into carbon offsets to compensate for your trip.
3. Pack zero waste essentials
If you’re wondering how to become a sustainable traveler, it’s important that you know how to pack sustainably. There are a few things that you should definitely tuck away in your suitcase or carry-on:
- A reusable stainless steel water bottle with a GOpure Pod water filter if you’re staying in areas with risky tap water
- A bamboo bottle infuser and reusable coffee cup
- A reusable silicone bag to stash snacks, toiletries, or accessories in
- A stainless steel lunch box for restaurant leftovers or meals on-the-go
- A bamboo cutlery and straw set—so you can always say “no” to single-use plastic ones
- Sustainable travel bags: like a recycled backpack, organic cotton duffel bag, reusable cotton bag, and a recycled daypack
4. Stay in eco-conscious accommodation
Nowadays, there are many hotels, campsites, resorts, and even AirBnB rentals that are here to support sustainable travelers. Many advertise themselves as “eco-friendly” or “green” and mention practices they use to recycle water, use renewable energy, or take other steps to cut down on their footprint.
Once you’re there, opt to save water and energy by not having your towels and linens washed/changed daily, consider eating a plant-based meal at the continental breakfast, and set your thermostat to a reasonable temperature.
5. BYO toiletries
If you’re staying in a hotel, it may be tempting to “stock up” on the individually wrapped toiletries. Don’t! Instead, bring your own shampoo and conditioner bars. You can use a bamboo soap dish wrapped up in beeswax wrap to keep them mess-free while traveling.
6. Support local economies
Why would you travel thousands of miles to order delivery pizza from your usual place or pick up a McCoffee that you can get at home? Whether abroad or in a neighboring state or city, do your best to support the local economy.
Check out local music gigs. Dine in local cafes or restaurants. If you’re shopping for souvenirs, avoid chain retailers by instead looking for a gift that highlights the unique culture and character of the place you’re visiting.
7. Get off the beaten path
Some of our most popular tourism destinations are becoming overwhelmed by large groups and people obsessed with getting that perfect photo for social media.
Give these areas a little rest and reprieve by avoiding the urge to travel where everyone else is. Overtourism can displace local people, overwhelm local communities and resources, and damage the environment.
Plus, who likes navigating large crowds when traveling?!
8. Leave no trace
Whether you’re in a forest setting in which the “leave no trace” ethos originated or in a bustling city, make your footprint as small as possible. Be sure to pick up any trash that you might leave behind, find a place to recycle glass and plastic, and do your best to curb food waste.
9. Slow travel is sustainable travel
Oftentimes, we plan our vacations alongside a packed itinerary. Between museums, restaurants, parks, and other attractions, it can be tempting to want to see everything! However, a fully packed vacation may not be best for your stress levels, and it’s certainly not great for our planet.
Instead, slow down and travel intentionally. Instead of visiting ALL THE attractions, spend a few hours in a local coffee shop and people watch. Slowly saunter around a local farmer’s market and get to know some of the producers. Rent a bike and ride around the city all day, taking in its unique sights and smells.
Ready to embark on some sustainable traveling? GreenEcoDream is here to provide the tips and tools that will make your next trip as green as possible.
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