Everyone needs a vacation once in a while. Whether you’re the type of person who prefers a long international trip to refresh and recharge, or you’d rather enjoy a short weekend getaway in a nearby city, spending some time away from home can be just what you need to relax and recharge your batteries.
Despite this widespread love of getting out and experiencing the world, too few people are consciously aware of the impact they are having on the places they travel to. Traveling can leave a huge impact on the environment, but there are steps you can take to minimize or mitigate that impact and transform the experience into something earth-positive. The next time you’re packing your bags to travel, consider these sustainable travel tips to travel a little more sustainably.
Sustainable Travel Tips
#1 Seek out eco-friendly accommodation.
Your hotel can be one of the largest expenses on your vacation, so it’s important to ensure you’re supporting businesses that support our environment. Before you book your next hotel or resort, do a little research. See if you can find any information on what that property has done to minimise its impact on the natural habitat. This is especially important when traveling abroad to countries with lower environmental standards than your own.
Don’t be fooled here. A hotel can easily give itself the appearance of ‘going green’ by placing a few recycling bins around and asking you to reuse your towels. Seek out places that have actually taken steps to make a difference – hotels that have embraced solar or wind power, or places that promise excursions and experiences that don’t exploit the local population and environment.
#2 Consider tours carefully.
Excursions and tours are extremely popular, especially when you’re visiting a destination known for adventure and the great outdoors. However, many fail to realize that activities as simple as hiking and snorkeling can negatively impact our planet. Tours involving animals can be even worse. Many international “animal reserves” are home to animals that were illegally hunted, captured, and relocated. Seek out small, reputable tours by doing your research beforehand – or steer clear altogether. The same rules apply to animal sanctuaries. Unfortunately sanctuary its a term that’s often misused and the animals could be being exploited for your entertainment. Be aware of your decisions and make ethical choices.
#3 Use public transportation whenever possible.
Traveling leaves a tremendous carbon footprint on the planet. Flying to your destination is often the quickest way to arrive, but it’s also the most impactful on our environment. Taking public transit like trains, subways and buses in cities can be a great way to minimize the carbon footprint you leave when you rent a car or opt for personal taxis throughout your trip. You’ll save money and get the opportunity to travel like a local. To sweeten the deal, many cities have invested in greener, more earth-friendly transit options, which makes hopping on the subway or city bus an even smarter choice.
#4 Shop locally.
When possible, support local vendors and artisans on your travels – not international corporations. Eat at local restaurants that source their food from nearby farms. Peruse the markets that the locals actually shop at – not the ones dedicated to tourists, filled with mass-produced trinkets made abroad. Support the local economy and culture by keeping your money in the community.
#5 Find time to volunteer.
For most, going on vacation is all about relaxation, but if you can find the energy to spend a little bit of your time giving back, you’ll find your next trip to be much more fulfilling – and environmentally friendly. There are dedicated travel programs that exist specifically for volunteer-oriented vacations, but if you don’t want to spend the whole time working, there are other options! Volunteering can be as simple as collecting bags of litter on your evening sunset stroll.
We can all do our part by learning how to travel more sustainably. What have you done to make your vacations a little more earth-friendly? Let me know by leaving a comment!
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