Tips for Sustainable Travel
Traveling is a hobby most people enjoy because it’s a sure-fire way to relax and unwind while getting a glimpse of the culture of a particular place. Right now, more and more people try to practice sustainable travel. In fact, many organizations around the world support this cause by educating people on how they can help. Many of these suggestions are pretty simple, can be easily implemented, and will definitely make a difference. Whether you are going to a highly-developed country abroad, or a rural setting in a developing country, it is your responsibility as a tourist to be knowledgeable about your destination, seek awareness of the impact of your visit on the local population and the environment, and attempt to minimize negative impacts.
Here are some tips that every traveler can use to be more eco-friendly. A lot of these tips are incredibly simple, such as using a reusable drinking bottle, putting a Do Not Disturb on your hotel door and buying local products instead of imports.
Before You Travel
- Book nonstop flights whenever you can. Takeoffs and landings are responsible for most of the airplane’s CO2 emissions.
- Consider land travel if your destination is within driving distance or if you’re traveling with a group. But if you’re going solo, it’s more eco-friendly to fly.
- Consider flying with one of the 30+ IATA member airlines who offer carbon offset programs. The purpose of this is to neutralize the plane’s carbon emissions by investing in projects that reduce carbon.
- If your schedule allows it, travel by bus, train or ship. Doing so generally has a less significant environmental impact.
- If you’re traveling within the United States, check to see if the hotel has an LEED certification.
- In other countries, look for the following seals of approval: EarthCheck, Green Globe, Rainforest Alliance, and Green Tourism
- Ask if the hotel has a recycling program.
- Ask about the hotel’s sustainability initiatives.
- Use a refillable BPA-free water bottles.
- Take short showers. Take showers instead of baths. Showers use 10-25 gallons of water compared to baths, which use up to 70 gallons.
- Hang towels after each use. It’s the universal sign that you’d like to use them again.
- Check for leaks in the hotel bathroom and never leave a faucet open. Always turn off the water from sink if you’re not using it.
- Turn off all the lights, heat/AC, and television when you leave your room.
- Leave the Do Not Disturb sign on the door during your entire stay. This cuts down on the chemicals used for cleaning, electricity used in vacuuming, and washing of linens.
- Walk, bike, or use public transport to get around the town or city.
- Return maps, brochures and other tourist information once you’re done with them.
- Take leftover toiletries with you. Unused portions are often thrown away and you can reuse those plastic containers in the future.
- Stick to the marked trails in hiking to avoid harming native flora.
- Bring a small bag with you and pick up any trash you see along the hike.
- Keep a safe and respectful distance from wildlife.
- Never attempt to feed wildlife. It only makes them habituated to and reliant on humans. It can also lead to attacks and even death for the animal.
- Buy locally-made products instead of imported goods. Imported items are flown and shipped in, which means they leave a larger carbon footprint.
- Do not buy anything made from endangered species, unsustainable hardwood or ancient artifacts. It’s not only wrong, but you won’t be able to get them through customs.
- Always take a reusable bag with you.
- Do not buy souvenir photos from anyone who exploits wildlife.
- Travel with small group tour operators.
- Be careful when snorkeling or scuba diving. Do not touch or step on the coral or stir up sediment. Try not to damage the reef’s fragile ecosystem.
- Stay away from any tour that promises hands-on encounters with wild animals. Do not ride elephants or walk with tigers.
Be a Good Tourist
- Honor local customs. Do a little research before heading to your destination.
- Learn the language. Knowing simple phrases is enough as it will impact the way locals will treat you.
- Give back. Some organizations have programs where you can volunteer while you travel.
Travelers, do you have tips that we missed on this article? Let us know!