Travel is a great way to broaden the mind. Seeing wonderful places, meeting new people, and trying new foods are just some of the things to be excited about. But there’s no getting away from the fact that road and air travel isn’t kind to planet Earth. The more you travel, the larger your carbon footprint. As well as vehicle fumes, travelers may create additional waste and use large amounts of electricity when staying at resorts. As society becomes more socially and environmentally conscious, eco-friendly travel tips are about more than just reducing your own carbon footprint. They’re about setting an example to friends, family, or your Instagram followers about the most planet-friendly ways to see this world.
This is one of the easier eco-friendly travel tips and just requires some preparation. Carry reusable water bottles if there’s a safe water source at your destination. This reduces plastic waste. Buy multipacks of snacks rather than individual portions to reduce packaging waste. Avoid disposable plastic cups and ask for a glass. These changes are small but powerful when enough people start making them.
Whether you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort or a tiny Airbnb, you can help protect the planet with a few simple actions. Turn the lights off when you go out. If your towels are still clean, don’t send them for laundering. Reuse them as often as is hygienic. Use the AC sparingly. If there’s a fan in your room, try that instead. Don’t leave taps running, as this wastes both water and power. Imagine you’re going to have to pay the power bill — it's a motivating way to remember to turn things off!
Some tour operators are now actively booking eco-friendly vacations or trips. Features might include more eco-friendly transport, guides, and translators that are local rather than flown in, or hotels with sustainable business practices. It’s worth doing a little research to ensure the tour operator is genuinely environmentally conscious and not just using buzzwords to make a sale. There are no official guidelines around what makes a travel operator “green,” so be bold and ask the operator about any aspects you’re unsure of.
If you’re able to, hiring a bicycle to get around the local area is much better for the environment than renting a car. It’s also much cheaper! Some resorts will loan a bike for a deposit, leaving you more funds to spend on other aspects of your trip. Another more eco-friendly travel option is public transportation. If you do have to book a car, consider sharing one car rental between a group of travelers, to minimize the impact of pollution.
Many hotels have green credentials these days. These will differ from country to country, but one example is the LEED certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Hotels or resorts gain this certificate by proving they can be sustainable, which may include features such as being close to public transport, or the architecture of the building may contribute positively to the environment, such as by reflecting heat. Green-certified hotels will normally have good energy efficiency and water efficiency. Ask your hotel what credentials they can show you, to set your mind at rest.
Carbon offsetting is where a company tries to invest in eco-friendly projects to make up for the increase in carbon their business pumps out into the world. Some airlines are now offering carbon offsetting options on ticket purchases for a small surcharge. Of course, ideally, all airlines would do this without the extra charge! However, it’s usually only a few dollars and ensures that more money is being invested in projects like reforestation which helps take carbon back out of the atmosphere.
It’s tempting to want to get away as far as possible. But how much have you explored the world closer to where you live? Make it a point to have some trips away that are closer to home. Why? Because this automatically reduces your carbon footprint, thanks to less air or sea travel. But also, if you’re traveling for a shorter amount of time, you have longer to explore the area in-depth and discover its hidden secrets. This simple eco-friendly travel tip could help you discover some of the most exciting vacations yet.
It’s tempting to wander off the paths and find out about your destination for yourself. The thought of discovering something your guide doesn’t even know is certainly thrilling. However, it’s important to remember that paths and guides are there for a reason, particularly in environmentally fragile areas such as national parks or nature reserves. Trampling through the undergrowth could disturb nesting sites for birds or scare away other animals, disrupting the local ecosystem.
How many times have you packed for a trip, putting one extra of everything in – just in case? That’s great forward planning, but if you’re traveling by air or sea, that extra weight means the vehicle has to use more fuel to get where it needs to be on schedule. Okay, your extra swimsuit won’t make that much difference! But if everyone on board brings a few extra items, it soon adds up.
A prime example of this is the apes in Gibraltar. Tourists come and feed them, and because of this, they’ve lost some fear of humans and will come right up to travelers — sometimes even jumping on them and trying to rip food out of their hands! Wildlife is fascinating, but it needs to be left alone — no matter how cute it is.