What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of eco-friendly traveling? Of course, the first thing that often comes to most people’s minds is things like going camping, hiking, or choosing to use your bike to travel across the country. However, eco-friendly travel is much broader, and it includes a lot more “green” activities that are an integral part of what it means to be an avid eco-friendly traveler.
The thing is, no matter what decisions you make during your travels, you are doing your part as long as you try your best to be more environmentally conscious. The best, most accessible, and most meaningful phrase to remember when traveling is-“leave no trace.” This concept means that no matter where you go, you leave nothing behind but your footprints.
This guide will look at some eco-friendly traveling tips and tricks that can help you travel both consciously and sustainably.
But, before that, let us understand more about sustainable traveling or eco-friendly travel.
What is ‘Sustainable Travel’?
For some travelers, sustainable travel may evoke thoughts of low impact camel back safaris-across, or perhaps it may mean daydreaming of sun-baking in a Mauritian or Balinese eco-resort.
However, in reality, the definition of ‘eco-friendly travel’ or ‘sustainable travel’ is far from settled. The UN World Tourism Organization’s holistic defines sustainable tourism as: “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities.”
Why is Sustainable Travel Essential?
Why is sustainable tourism or travel so important apart from making sure we remember to practice our usual sustainable habits while we are on the go?
According to the United Nations, the travel culture and especially international travel and tourism, is booming like never before. The number of people traveling the world from 2000 to 2015 has almost doubled. It means that nearly 1.2 billion people board an international flight every year. Not surprisingly, this number is set to increase by 2030 to 1.8 billion. Additionally, the travel and tourism industry accounts for about 10.2% of the global GDP. This is a cause for worry because all of this travel comes at an enormous social and environmental cost.
So, to minimize the impact of environmental degradation, we can come up with some travel habits you can adopt. Here is our growing list of eco-friendly travel hacks that travelers can use to make their travel a sustainable one.
Tips To Help You Travel More Sustainably
Avoid Plastic & Carry Reusable
Did you know plastic is the enemy of Mother Nature? – Marine life is in danger due to plastic waste filling up the oceans. Hence, each of us needs to quit using single-use plastics such as plastic bags, water bottles, cutlery, and other non-biodegradable items. You can always carry a refillable water bottle with you instead of buying a disposable one every few hours. Further, to avoid hazarding the environment, you should consider carrying your toiletries, reusable shopping bags, etc. It is high time to reduce plastic waste.
Avoid Food Wastage
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations argues that food wastage has a severe impact on land, water, climate, and biodiversity. Every year, tons of food gets wasted as a consequence of tourism throughout the globe. It is about time that travelers take up small steps to bring a significant change in this ‘food wastage’ epidemic. To do this, one must opt-out of buffets and order only the amount of food you are sure you will finish. In addition, you should pack your food while on the road. It is a brilliant idea, especially if you have kids or elderly people with you on an eco-friendly travel trip.
Did you know over-packing can have an ill effect on the environment? The weight of your luggage does make a huge difference, especially if you are traveling by air. It is said that the carbon emissions from aircraft take a significant toll on the environment. Reports also suggest that excess weight on a plane means it burns more fuel, leading to more significant carbon emissions. Therefore, it is always recommended to carry only the ‘most required’ things and dump the rest when flying.
We are all aware that billions of trees are being cut down worldwide each year for paper. Cutting down trees leads to various environmental causes such as deforestation, soil erosion, and floods. Yet, paper is still being used for packaging, communication, or documentation throughout the world. You can do your bit as an eco-friendly traveler by saving paper by carrying a soft copy of your tickets and various other essential documents that you would require while traveling.
Reduce Energy Use
The power plants that produce electricity also generate enormous harmful emissions that pollute the air around us. It affects the climate in the long run. So we should all do our bit in limiting energy use. It is necessary for the environment. So, always turn off the lights, AC, and TV when you leave your hotel rooms. Leave the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door before leaving if you don’t want your room to be vacuumed.
Not surprisingly enough, the water resources are already overwhelmed by wastage and overuse. Therefore, you need to know different ways to save water while on a eco-friendly travel trip. The easiest way to do that is by choosing a bath over a shower. The shower uses almost double the amount of water. Additionally, take shorter baths and turn off the taps while you shave, shampoo, lather up, brush your teeth, or not in use.
Tips To Help You Travel More Sustainably
Use Public Transport
Have you ever wondered what the point of visiting the hills is? Is the air quality in the hills just as bad as it is in the cities? The primary reason air quality is declining even in the mountains at an alarming rate is the increased number of tourist vehicles. You must always take public transport when possible to limit carbon emissions and fuel consumption. Similarly, go for a smaller model to reduce the impact on the environment when you have to rent a car. Nothing could be better if you could explore the destination or spot on foot or by bicycle.
Littering is a disgraceful act. It ruins the beauty of the landscape, leading to improper waste management and creating an unhealthy environment to live in. So, it would help if you avoided the habit of littering as a conscious eco-friendly travel person. Always try to follow a leave-no-trace regimen. It means wherever you go, whether it is a camp or a park or a beach or any other place, make sure that anything you carry in, you carry it out as well. Always throw your trash in dustbins in regards to what can or cannot be recycled. It is also good to always carry a small bag with you, so it becomes feasible to round up the trash.
Follow the Rules
Every tourist destination abides by specific regulations to ensure the complete safety of the travelers and the environment. So, make sure to follow the rules because they are not meant to be broken or bent. Always follow all the instructions that need to be followed when indulging in an adventure activity. Breaking the rules may lead to a hefty fine, and you may be severely punished and can also cause harm to yourself or nature.
Go for Eco-Friendly Options
Many hotels and other accommodation options have been propped up across the world over the last few years. These agencies make a conscious effort to preserve the resources, and they’re doing their bit to protect the environment. So you should act responsibly and pick eco-hotels and other options with sustainability initiatives such as rainwater harvesting, low-flow toilets, solar power, and energy-efficient lighting. Further, choose tour companies for eco-friendly travel that help you follow the best environmental practices throughout the trip and do not harm the environment.
Unplug your Home
There is this one thing you must never forget to do before leaving your home for a trip. Whether it’s a weekend trip or a three-week-long trip, before you leave your home for a trip, unplug everything in your home. This way, you will not only save electricity, but it will also save you money.
The travel and tourism industry is booming with eco-friendly hotels and hostels that are popping up all over the world. The eco-friendly option makes excellent choices to help offset those carbon emissions you cause by getting to the travel destination (by air). By ensuring they do the following, eco-friendly hotels and hostels can make their mark on the environment:
- Responsibly use electricity, heating, and cooling.
- Reduce the amount of water wasted.
- Build establishments in stable locations that are not prone to flooding and make sure it doesn’t damage the ecosystem.
- Promote eco-friendly travel and environmental practices such as beach or forest cleanup activities, etc.
Tips To Help You Travel More Sustainably
When you are traveling from your home country to another state or country, don’t buy products as it only increases the weight of your luggage. Instead, you can buy local goods and try something new, like a new cuisine you’ve never tried before. Additionally, try to make sure that you utilize your reusable bag while shopping and reduce the use of plastic bags.
Always try to eat Local
Whether you’re traveling or not, purchasing local food/products means that nobody has to drive those goods across the country to get them there. Buying or eating the local produce also encourages local businesses. Let’s admit it, and food is one of the ‘tastiest’ ways to get to know a destination. So, get that palate on a hunger hunt!
Hitchhike When and Wherever possible
Hitchhiking is a great way to reduce CO2 emissions, share petrol costs and get to know new people. Another reason why it is a great way to indulge in eco-friendly travel is because you don’t need to be standing alongside the road in the rain with a piece of cardboard in your hands, hoping that someone will eventually pick you up. Nowadays, hitchhiking has become easier than ever. You can use apps such as iThumb, BlaBlaCar, or Rideshare4less to hitchhike.
Avoid consuming Meat
The meat industry is the world’s biggest polluter. However, experts believe that giving up animal products (such as beef, red meat, broiler chicken, pork) might reduce carbon footprint more than cars. So, try to consume as few animal products as possible when you are traveling.
Avoid being Touristy with Wild Animals
Have you seen those pictures that went viral on the internet of travelers posing with tigers? Tigers, in general, are semi-sedated, and they often live in poorly maintained cages. Try to do more research to know an accurate picture and what’s going on when they tell you about the orphanage and that the animals are treated well. Further, animal rides, especially elephant rides, are among the worst tourist attractions in the industry, so you should skip those elephant rides. Wild animals are termed wild for a reason. However, wild animals are not suitable to serve as tourist attractions. The only way they serve as an attraction to you is when you see them in their natural habitat- the wild.
Travel with Sustainable, Eco-friendly, or Fair-trade Travel Agencies
Make sure your eco-friendly travel is as environmentally friendly as possible by choosing travel agencies and eco-friendly accommodations. Of course, it’s always more eco-friendly to stay close to home. However, sometimes you do wish to go a bit further away. If that’s the case, you should consider staying in eco-accommodation.
Now, if you want to design your tailor-made trip, you should go for a sustainable travel agency that offers high-end sustainable travel experiences. In addition, certain travel agencies only work with local groups, so although travel contributes to carbon emissions, it can sometimes be a boon, since it also has a positive influence on the welfare of local communities.
Did you ever wonder how unbelievably lucky we have all been to be able to travel the world so quickly and extensively in this day and age? Indeed, traveling and exploring the wonders of the world is one of life’s greatest joys and experiences. It is a rich experience to indulge in eco-friendly travel, see the world and gather so much knowledge about the places, cultures, wonders and many more.
However, as rational and well-educated beings, we make one expedition a sustainable one. Climate change is genuine and not the most critical way to take action and make the choices we should’ve had years ago to combat this crisis. We hope this list proves extremely helpful to you in shedding some light on the topic, and it gives you a few ideas for some sustainable travel habits. Happy eco-traveling fellas!