From an environmental standpoint, staying home and never going on holiday again would undeniably be the best option for the planet. But when it comes to living sustainably, we must continue to do just that: live. Obviously travel is more challenging than ever right now, but exploring our planet is one of life’s great pleasures, and while no travel is completely environmentally friendly, we can all plan our trips more conscientiously, and with best eco-travel practices in mind. Here’s our guide to how to travel more sustainably…
6 Ways to Travel More Sustainably
Choosing Your Destination
It goes without saying that the closer you stay to home, the better, and if you can reach your destination without involving an airplane, so much the better. Big cruise ships and enormous beachfront developments are also best avoided as a whole. You should also avoid destinations that are being harmed by the numbers of visitors, such as Venice and Machu Picchu, and check out the green credentials of your chosen location. For example Barbados recently announced that it was banning all petro-based single-use plastic from the island.
Choosing Your Accommodation
Check out the ecotourism initiatives and sustainability schemes being practiced by your chosen accommodation. There are thousands of hotels, lodges, private rentals and entire countries working to achieve more environmentally-friendly tourism practices, so wherever you’re hoping to visit you should be able to find a good option. To get you started, why not check out our guide to 10 eco-travel destinations getting it right? Call your hotel in advance and request that you not have any single-use plastic items, including bottled water, in your room.
Do Your Research
If you want to double-check claims made by hotel groups or tourism companies, there are several resources that provide certification. The Rainforest Alliance is a great source of information, as is Positive Luxury and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
If you tend to reach your destination and then plan to travel across as much of it as possible within your time-frame, slow down. Stay put and enjoy the community that you’re staying in. Choose places that you can travel around by foot, or at least public transport, to minimise your carbon footprint once you’re there. While you’re there, find out how the locals live, eat and shop and follow suit. Shopping and eating local produce is the best and most eco-friendly way to support the community you’re visiting.
Always pack a reusable water bottle and if you’re traveling somewhere you think it will be tough to avoid bottled water, consider a portable water purifier. You can request filtered water for your hotel rooms over bottled water. Pack a few tote bags for any purchases or overspill from your luggage and consider a travel mug if you’ll be wanting coffees-to-go. Decanting your cosmetics rather than buying minis is a good idea, and ensuring that you’re conscious of the chemicals in your sunscreen if you’re planning on swimming in the sea is essential.
While you’re away, think carefully about what you’re bringing home with you. If you want to travel more sustainably, don’t buy imported souvenirs, rather shop for locally-made pieces such as art and ceramics that you will treasure. Perishables such as local oils, spices, sweets or olives make better gifts than something that will end up in landfill in a couple of years.