Many of us are torn in the modern age. We want to travel and explore new places, but we want to be ecological mindful too. Here are six eco-friendly travel tips to help you fulfil both needs.
1. Pick a destination that follows sustainable practices
When it comes to choosing sustainable travel destinations, there are a few things to look at. Select one where the tourism respects other people’s cultures. There should not be a compromise or destruction of one way of life. Any influx of visitors should support the socio-cultural way of life, and not take advantage of it. Also, a commitment to reduce waste, monitor water use and protect the environment should be part of the ethos.
Costa Rica is a prime example of a green destination. This biodiverse country has preserved its rain forest and aims to be carbon neutral by 2021. New Zealand works hard to protect its areas of nature and local businesses are encouraged to be energy efficient. The Maldives is the lowest country on Earth and is very conscious of rising sea levels. They aim to have 30% of their total daytime electricity powered by sustainable sources. With further research, there are more and more destinations striving to follow sustainable travel trends so look out for them.
2. Choose the right place to stay at your destination
Once you have selected your destination, make sure you do a little research before you pick where you’ll be staying. There are many luxurious and relaxing accommodation for you to choose while helping you stay in the mindset of supporting a business/brand that cares about the environment. Try to choose a hotel that is committed to eco-friendly initiatives.
Take your time to explore your options and look for ones that practise sustainability. Generally, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Starwood and Wyndham are leaders of the chain hotels committed to green policies. Schemes to reduce wasteful air-conditioning, laundry, heating and lighting are some of the examples. Some hotels provide bicycle amenities for hotel guests and offer bikes available for rent, etc.
Of course, some independent accommodation will go even further to offer eco-holiday experiences by using locally grown food, water heated by their solar panels and non-chemical pools.
3. Travelling to your destination
Flying is not a green mode of transport, but sometimes there is no other practical way to reach your holiday.
• Take steps to minimise your impact by booking the most direct route to reduce your time in the air.
• Pack as lightly as you can because the weight of a plane will affect the emissions burned.
• Do not accept plastic bags, bottles and packaging at the airport.
• Try to take public transport to and from the airport.
• Consider contributing to a green charity to offset the carbon footprint made.
4. Pack an eco-friendly suitcase
It is tempting to pack lots of options when you go away, but it really isn’t necessary. Extra weight will use more fuel on the plane, bus and taxi so pack lightly. Look at the plastics you are taking too, and try to reduce those by choosing eco-packaging and multi-purpose items. And when considering how to travel sustainably, don't forget to take your reusable water bottle and coffee cup!
5. Exploring your destination
When you get there, try to use local transport as much as possible. Hop on the bus, tram or train rather than booking a tourists tour. Cycling is the most ecological way to get around too if the city you’re visiting is bike-friendly enough. If you want a guide, hire someone local and contribute to the community, not an international company who direct profit away. Go to attractions that are sympathetic to the local people.
6. Be a humble guest
While you are in another country, try to learn all about the customs and traditions. People may not be the same as you, but that does not make their way of doing things inferior. Buy handmade goods, try the local food, ask for the domestic beer and open your mind.