Traveling Sustainably: Why It Should Be Top Of Your Priority List
As travel becomes higher and higher on people’s bucket lists each year, it is important to remember the impact that traveling actually has on our environment. We are all aware of how our carbon footprint affects the planet but do you know how your traveling impacts it?
Tourism on whole isn’t exactly sustainable when you dive deep into the reality of it. With excessive air travel causing harmful CO2 emissions to natural areas being redeveloped for package vacation resorts, the international travel industry has certainly had an impact on the earth.
But why should sustainable travel be on the top of priority lists? This is because the planet only has a finite number of resources. The more popular tourism is becoming in certain areas around the world, the more these resources are being used up. Many natural landscapes and habitats are being changed each year all in the name of tourism. The faster the pace that this continues, the quicker the earth’s resources will run out.
That’s where sustainable travel comes in. We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t travel at all. In fact, we mean the opposite. There are just alternative approaches that can be taken when traveling to ensure that you are doing so in a sustainable and ethical way. Interested in learning how? Well, you are in the right place.
What Exactly Is Sustainable Travel?
What exactly is sustainable travel and how can you make sure that you travel with the planet front of mind? Sustainable or ‘green’ travel is traveling in such a way as to keep tourism going on a long-term basis but without harming cultural environments.
According to the World Commission on Environment and Development, it is simply “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Essentially, it is the ability to visit other countries in a way that appreciates and provides sustainability for local communities.
Sustainably ‘green’ travel is built on three core pillars. These include employing environmentally-friendly practices (reduce, reuse and recycle), protecting natural heritage and providing tangible economic benefits for local communities. The great thing about traveling sustainably is that you get the opportunity to experience other cultures in a way that protects their livelihood, natural resources and way of life. Sounds much better in the long run than an all-inclusive vacation resort.
Tourism certainly is an amazing opportunity for local communities across the world but it doesn’t have to come at the cost of their traditions and cultural way of life. The great news is that sustainable travel is easy to achieve and will certainly enhance your travel experience. A win/win situation in our eyes.
Top 5 Sustainable Travel Tips
As travellers, we need to take it upon ourselves to ensure that we are being responsible when visiting other countries and cultures. Traveling green requires a certain level of research, preparation and thoughtfulness beforehand.
However, if you keep these five sustainable travel tips in mind when planning your next vacation it will help to make sure that you are traveling in an environmentally-friendly way.
Think About Your Mode Of Transport
As global travel becomes cheaper and more accessible, people are beginning to ‘binge travel’ just because they can. The usage of planes, cruise ships, trains and buses increases considerably each year. As does the carbon emissions that they produce. Approximately 8% of total carbon emissions are a result of global tourism, according to a recent study carried out by the University of Sydney.
How you travel to your destination of choice has a huge impact on the environment. That’s why it is your single most important decision when you go on vacation. Where possible, take a train over an airplane. If flying is unavoidable, then make sure that you are taking a direct flight rather than plenty of stopovers.
Once you reach your destination, make use of public transport for getting around or even hire a bicycle. If traveling internally and in a group, car sharing is a great option. If traveling solo or with your partner, choose a more sustainable mode of transport such as bus or train.
Support The Local Economy
Supporting the local economy is a must if you want to travel sustainably. One way to do this is choosing to stay in locally-owned accommodation. By supporting local hotel or B&B owners, you can make sure that your money is staying in the local economy rather than going to a foreign-owned hotel and resort chains.
Many restaurants abroad value tourism for the opportunity it gives to increase their profits during certain seasons of the year. However, it is important to not just head to the built-up tourist areas when dining out. Look and see if there are any opportunities for you to support smaller establishments during your trip. Oftentimes, it is these establishments where you can get a truly local culinary experience.
Similarly, it is important to shop locally too. Local markets are obviously a great place to buy sustainable food but they are also wonderful places to pick up unique gifts. Instead of buying gifts for friends and families in the airport while waiting for your return flight, pick up souvenirs from local retailers.
Research Operators Before Booking
One of the great things about getting to travel is the activities you can do. If you are considering booking tours during your vacation, make sure that you research the tour operators fully.
Sustainable operators will have green accreditations such as GSTC, Green Globe, Rainforest Alliance or EarthCheck to name a few. If it is not clear on their website, get in touch with the tour company beforehand and ask them to share their policies. Reading reviews on TripAdvisor or from travel bloggers is also a great way to figure out whether a tour operator is a sustainable choice.
Do watch out for ‘green washing’. Many tour operators are guilty of tricking tourists into believing that their green credentials are more environmentally-friendly than they actually are. That’s why doing your research is important.
Interested in doing a safari? Many travellers jump at the chance to get up close and personal with a country’s local wildlife. If this is an activity that you have on your travel bucket list, make sure that the tour is ethical. Many wildlife tours that give you the opportunity of having a personal encounter with the animals may be unethical. Only choose trusted tour operators that don’t disturb and respect the local wildlife.
Travel During The Off-Season
We all know that the summer months are prime time for traveling. But if you are looking to be a sustainable traveler, then maybe you should consider traveling during the off-season. The less popular tourist seasons are often the most environmentally friendly time of the year to visit other countries.
This is mainly due to reduced tourist footfall meaning that there is less wear and tear on a locality’s infrastructure and natural habitat. It also means that local businesses will continue to receive the benefits of tourism every season.
Reduce Your Waste
This can’t be stressed enough. To be sustainable while visiting another country you need to pick up after yourself. It’s that simple. Make sure to never leave any waste behind you either in your accommodation or while out exploring a trail. Leave your destination just as it was when you first arrived.
A great way to reduce your waste while traveling is to bring your own reusable shopping bags with you. This means that you aren’t getting unnecessary plastic or brown paper bags each time you shop in a new location. They also can be easily rolled up into your suitcase and don’t take up too much space. How great is that?
Traveling Green: The Noticeable Benefits
Traveling in a more conscious way has great benefits for the environment, the places we visit and even ourselves.
Not only are you benefiting local communities by being a tourist but you are also giving back to local businesses meaning that they can stay profitable for longer. Taking better care of our surroundings when traveling also means that we can protect the locality’s natural habitat and conserve their precious natural resources. Additionally, by supporting local communities as they are it will discourage the displacement of these communities for the placement of foreign multi-national businesses and hotels.
Lastly, being a sustainable traveler will benefit you as a person. This is because it gives you the opportunity to get a more honest look into a local area. You will get a first-hand glimpse into the lives of the locals and can learn to love the community as it is. Having this deep appreciation will not only benefit you culturally but also how you live your life on a whole.
Take Your Sustainable Travel To The Next Level
Sustainable travel is certainly worth it. If you are looking to go on a vacation in the near future, putting in the extra research about how you can travel more sustainably will be highly beneficial. From supporting the local community to having an active impact on the conservation of another country’s natural resources.
So, why not take your travel agenda to the next level and make it sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Amazing giveaways, healthy living ideas and better brands.