Sustainable Travel Tips
With ecology on everyone's mind, it is always a good idea to reduce your carbon footprint wherever it is possible. From eating a little less red meat to paying attention to your gas usage, there are numerous ways to improve your impact on the planet. Those who travel frequently will be pleased to learn that it can be easy to adjust travel habits to be more ecologically conscious. The concept of sustainable travel has been making the rounds in the tourism community, and many believe that it is possible to be environmentally aware as you travel to reduce your impact on the planet, especially in other countries. Consider some of these sustainable travel tips, and see what a difference you can make on your next trip.
Tips to Sustainable Travel:
1. Visit Places Free From Overtourism
It can be easy to want to dive into a tried and true spot when you plan on travelling. There are numerous cities all over the world that stand as a nexus for tourism. Places like Barcelona, Venice, Bali, Amsterdam and Thailand all stand out, but why not visit somewhere that receives a little less attention? Instead of heading to Venice, visit Slovenia's rolling hills for a unique little Tuscany experience. Visit the stunning province of Phang Nga instead of taking the trip to Bali. When you avoid overtourism, you are contributing to the preservation of beauty in another, less-travelled country and locale. There are countless options to explore, each of which can provide something new and unique.
2. Plan for Sustainable Transportation
Once you reach your destination, you will want to think about how to get from place to place. It's always easy to rent a car and get to where you need to go, but think about sustainability as a long-term goal. What if you could rent a bicycle? What if you can take public transportation systems instead to save on gas and emissions? The closer you stay to a system of travel, the more you stand to save, not only financially, but also in terms of your carbon output. You can learn more about the culture and the local sights when you take the chance to familiarise yourself with the local landscape. Planning according to how you want to travel, in addition to where you want to travel, can be one of the best ways for you to move forward.
3. Travel by Season
Choosing when you travel can be just as important as choosing where you travel. There are many places that will be busier than others in specific seasons. European cities are typically packed for the summer, and year-round destinations, like the Caribbean, will be particularly busy during winters in the northern hemisphere. Travelling off-season can be especially attractive because you will be helping the country during a slower time of the year. Visiting during shoulder seasons can be just as beneficial for the same reason. Ultimately you are helping the locale without missing out on the travel experience itself. Do your research for specific cities and countries, and learn more about optimal travel times.
4. Choose Ethical Accommodation
This is an especially vital part of the travel experience. What many travellers do not realise is that some of the biggest problems of negative environmental impact come from the tourism industry itself. This can This one is a biggie. Did you know that some of the biggest culprits in terms of the environmental impact of the tourism industry are hotels? Toiletry bottles get thrown away, hotel rooms blast unneeded air conditioning, food waste starts to stack up, and with such issues so prevalent, it can be easy to contribute to the impact, even if you don't mean to. Try to stay at a locally owned boutique hotels, hostel or guest house whenever it is possible.
5. Be Careful with AirBnB Options
AirBnB is often listed as a favourite for ecological travel. This makes sense as a good choice for sustainable travel because it is often run by local residents, but the fact is that the situation may be a little bit more complicated. Sometimes renters may have been kicked out so that their home could be turned into an AirBnB. Sometimes others were denied housing in the first place so that it could be set up for foreign travellers. This happens in many different places, particularly in hubs for tourists. Always do your research about a specific location before you book your stay, as you can improve your footprint as a result.
6. Avoid Cruise Ships
One of the most important aspects of following through with sustainable travel is being sure to avoid cruise trips. Cruise trips are often specifically established as a gimmick experience, and almost no locals benefit from cruise ship tourism. Cruise ships are also extremely harmful to the environment. They are notorious for polluting the oceans and the air space, and a significant portion of plastic found in the ocean comes from cruise ships. In addition to wasting resources, and polluting the planet's water, cruise ships do not do much to draw attention to the specific culture of local areas. Always avoid travelling this way when possible.
7. Pack Sustainably
Always think about how you want to pack before you go travelling. Travelling light is one of the best ways for you to not only reduce your carbon footprint but also immerse yourself in the local environment. The more people that fly with a simple carry-on luggage, the less fuel is needed by the plane to take off and carry the extra weight. Packing light also makes it easier for you to travel with public transportation. Make sure that you pack appropriately for what you need. Try to grab things like reusable bags, containers, bottles and straws to reduce your carbon footprint. This also allows you to be versatile and add only the essentials according to different climates.
8. Avoid Travelling for Volunteer Work
Though helping people should never be discouraged, it is always a good idea to do some of your own research before you engage in volunteer work where you travel. What many people do not realise is that volunteering can often do more harm than good. Volunteers in foreign areas often do not have a lot of training. Locals spend time and resources training them to do the job, and this ends up taking away from the actual work. This will sometimes exacerbate a problem, rather than immediately help it. If you think you want to engage in this type of tourism, it is absolutely critical to know that you are providing skills you already have to help the area.
9. Shop Local as Often as Possible
One of the best parts of sustainable travel is taking the time to dive into the local culture. This means avoiding some of the more tacky tourist souvenirs and seeing what the local crafts have to offer. Not only are these more meaningful to the trip and your experience, but you are also supporting local businesses and encouraging their trade. There are countless places you can visit to find souvenirs and meaningful purchases. Places like roadside stands, independent shops, and pop up art festivals can all be invaluable. Be sure to visit local restaurants as well, as this can be an even more excellent way to get a feel for the local flavor.
10. Leave No Trace
This is one of those universal rules that you can take with you anywhere you go. Do not leave any trace of your presence. It does not matter whether you are planning on hiking into the wilderness or just walking down another city's streets. Leave no sign that you were there to preserve the space. This is one of the most vital green tourism practices because it means preventing litter and avoiding damage to the local environment. Do not remove any objects from any buildings, and always be respectful of local customs and practices. Take as many photos as you would like, but always avoid making more problems for the area.
11. Minimise Waste as a Whole
As a part of leaving no trace, try to avoid leaving behind waste products too. This point also ties in with what you pack with you. You will create much less waste as you travel light. Avoid bringing little things, such as Polaroid photos, pamphlets and business cards. Try to avoid tourist maps too. Sometimes, even if you do not have the intention of littering with these items, you may end up losing them, contributing to local pollution. If you feel especially ambitious, you can be on the lookout for local recycling points. This can allow you to reduce and reprocess your waste to help local industries.
12. Avoid Animal Experiences
It can be difficult to know what to watch out for, but do your best to avoid partaking in animal tourism. From major services like animal riding tours to minor ones like petting zoos, it is always a good idea to be informed before partaking in the experience. It is not uncommon for people to exploit, abuse and generally harm animals to provide an experience for tourists. Because of the focus on the environment through sustainable tourism, it is also a good idea to pay attention to the local wildlife and their treatment. Sometimes animal byproducts may have been harvested inhumanely as well, specifically as a tourist attraction, so it never hurts to do your research first.
13. Practice Personal Conservation
For many ecologically conscious travellers, this means just extending the practices performed at home to the destination. If you already try to limit your water and gas use, perfect, if not, it can be a good idea to pay particular attention to it abroad. When you visit, you want to establish as little of a drain on the local resources as possible. This means sometimes taking shorter showers and using less water when you brush your teeth. Do not leave any electricity on that you are not actively using, and always be sure to plan for your day-to-day needs in order to reduce your carbon footprint even further.
14. Follow Marked Trails
Hiking in a foreign countryside can be one of the most exciting experiences you can enjoy. You get a deeper appreciation not only for the local flora and fauna, but for the majesty of the planet as a whole. However, exercising extreme caution is vital. Until you become more experienced in the local environment, it is important for you to follow marked trails as often as possible. These exist to warn you about dangers that you may run into, and dangers that you may pose to the environment. Try not to come in contact with any of the local flora or fauna if it is possible, and stay safe to avoid needing medical attention or resources.
15. Learn Some of the Language
Take the time to learn a little bit of the language to enrich your experience. This is a particularly powerful way for you to feel a little bit more at home wherever you are travelling. Even learning the most common phrases or greetings can be enough to change the way the locals greet you and spend time with you. It is also an excellent way to immerse yourself in the local experience. Learning some of the language encourages sustainable travel because you honour the region you are visiting and the people who live there. You might be pleasantly surprised with some of your interactions. All of these tips are only as good as the traveller's dedication to them. Doing your best to be as mindful as possible will result in the most unique and ecologically conscious travel experience possible. If you are interested in visiting Thailand sometime soon, you can look forward to staying at Akyra Hotels & Resorts. This group is particularly proud to be the first in the country to be entirely free of single-use plastics. Sustainable travel is an ever evolving practice, and collaborating with others dedicated to that practice can help the planet on a much larger scale. Do your part today.
- Guide to Sustainable Travel
- Why is Single Use Plastic Bad?
- Winner of 'Green Steps' Award at Responsible Thailand Awards
- First No Single-Use Plastic Hotel Launch in Asia
- Single Use Plastic Free Hotels in Thailand