A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step - Lao Tzu.
But what if the step we take is towards a more sustainable, greener way of travel? Welcome to the world of sustainable travel - a conscientious way of exploring the planet that minimizes environmental impact and promotes the welfare of local communities and wildlife. With sustainable travel, we can make sure that our children and future generations have a vibrant and diverse world to explore. So, how do we ensure we tread lightly while still quenching our wanderlust? This comprehensive guide will show you how.
Pave Your Own Path: Choose Sustainable Destinations
The first step towards sustainable travel is picking destinations that prioritize sustainability. Instead of flocking to the latest hotspots influenced by pop culture (think of the 'Game of Thrones effect' on Dubrovnik), choose countries that are working towards becoming carbon neutral. Bhutan, the world's first carbon-negative country, is a great example.
Avoiding mass tourism will not only give you a unique travel experience but also help protect the local environment and culture from being eroded by the pressure of excessive visitors. After all, a crucial aspect of sustainable travel is to be respectful of local communities and their customs.
Stay in hotels and lodges that can demonstrate (as opposed to merely claim) their commitment to conserving the environment and local communities. Certified businesses—which range from giant, all-inclusive resorts to tiny, remote eco-lodges—comply with global standards for sustainable tourism and are regularly audited by reputable international entities. These businesses have energy and water saving programs, help conserve biodiversity, recycle, buy local foods and sometimes even grow their own produce, and their employees have decent salaries and working conditions. Check out this reusable bag to help carry items back from the local market.
Responsible Booking: Do Your Homework
Before finalizing any bookings, take the time to research the sustainability credentials of your accommodations and tour operators. Many hotels are actively involved in green initiatives or donate part of their profits towards environmental action.
For instance, the Marriott group has made significant strides in eliminating single-use plastic by switching to bulk dispensers in their bathrooms. However, you can do one better - bring your own eco-friendly toiletries, reducing reliance on hotel products altogether. Consider bringing this travel kit filled with your favorite skincare products.
Similarly, while selecting tours, be mindful of their impact on the local ecosystem and wildlife. Many tour companies are dedicated to sustainable travel - like Intrepid Travel which has been carbon neutral since 2010, and Fairbnb, which donates half of its profits to community projects. Remember, traveling sustainably also means supporting businesses that care about the environment and local communities.
Travel Light: Less Baggage, More Freedom
One easy yet impactful tip for sustainable travel is to pack light. The more weight airplanes, trains, or cars carry, the more fuel they consume. Not to mention, lighter luggage is simply easier to manage.
Consider carrying a refillable water bottle to avoid buying single-use plastic bottles. Pack eco-friendly or plastic-free products such as shampoo bars, toothpaste tablets, or deodorant tubes. Not only do they save space and reduce your carbon footprint, but they're also TSA-friendly.Aluminum-Free Organic & Vegan Deodorant Set -Oakmoss Cypress Rose/Uns – Verte Mode
Bringing your own meals for flights, your cutlery, and even a Kindle or iPad for reading can dramatically reduce the amount of waste you generate while traveling.
Wildlife Etiquette: Watch, Don't Touch
When it comes to wildlife, the golden rule for sustainable travel is to watch, not touch. Studies show that up to 75% of wildlife tourism negatively impacts animals. Activities ranging from seemingly innocent ones like feeding eagles to riding elephants can harm animals and disrupt their natural behavior.
Instead, consider visiting national parks or certified animal rescue centers where you can witness animals in their natural habitat. Remember, if an activity involves interacting with wildlife in ways that they wouldn't naturally do, it's best to avoid it. Consider donating to local conservation organizations supporting wildlife cleanup efforts.
Respect the Environment: Be a Responsible Visitor
As a responsible traveler, you should strive to leave places better than you found them. Be mindful of your behavior and its potential impact on the environment.
Whether it's refraining from touching ancient ruins or maintaining a safe distance from corals to prevent bleaching, every little action matters. Always follow trail guidelines, and don't veer off into restricted areas - these measures exist for a reason. Put your shades on and keep it moving!
Leave No Trace: Keep It Clean
One of the pillars of sustainable travel is the "Leave No Trace" principle. This means leaving the places you visit just as you found them or even cleaner. Properly disposing of your waste, or better yet, traveling plastic-free, can protect wildlife from harmful plastic pollution.
Better yet, join a beach clean-up or a similar initiative during your trip. It's a fantastic way to give back to the community and meet like-minded individuals committed to sustainability. Wear your sustainable leggings and do it in style!
Support Local Economy: Shop Locally
Sustainable travel is not just about protecting the environment; it's also about supporting local communities. Shopping at local markets and stores is a great way to contribute to the local economy and reduce carbon emissions associated with shipping goods.
Consider buying second-hand clothing or adopting a minimalist mindset when shopping to combat the detrimental effects of fast fashion. When you do shop, remember to bring your reusable bags to avoid plastic waste.
Conserve Energy & Water: Apply Your Home Habits
The sustainable habits you practice at home shouldn't take a vacation when you do. Make a conscious effort to conserve energy and water during your travels.
You can save energy by unplugging electronics, controlling room temperatures, and closing curtains when you leave the room. Conserve water by reusing hotel towels, limiting shower times, and choosing food options that require less water for cooking. Keep your water cool and refreshing in your stainless steel bottle.
Diet Decisions: Consider Eating Less Meat
With meat production being one of the significant contributors to climate change, reducing meat consumption can have a substantial positive impact. This doesn't mean you have to go vegan overnight, but consider trying more plant-based meals during your travels. This way, you'll not only contribute to sustainability but also discover new delicious foods. Sip on loose leaf chai for a refreshing pallet.
- Travel Smarter: Consider Low-Carbon Transportation
One of the biggest contributors to an individual's carbon footprint is air travel. Whenever possible, opt for buses, trains, or other lower-emission methods of transport. Many countries are revamping their rail systems, making train travel more efficient and enjoyable.
If you must fly, choose airlines that offer carbon offset programs. While this doesn't eliminate carbon emissions, it's a step in the right direction and helps mitigate the impact of your flight. Keep yourself organized and passport safe as you travel in style.
Let's all travel with intention, consideration, and respect for the places we're privileged to visit. Our collective actions can help ensure that the wonders of the world remain for generations to come. Here's to making every journey a sustainable one!
Start your sustainable journey today with our sustainable travel kits and guides. Check our eco-friendly travel products here and join the green revolution now!