How to be a sustainable traveller

Laura Chaney shares her tips on how you can make your travelling more sustainable and better for the planet

Laura Chaney
12th November 2019
janka00simka0 from Pixabay
While it may not quite be travelling season, with assignments looming and the prospect of travelling seeming very distant, there’s no doubt that travelling-planning season is always around the corner.

Whether it’s a trip to the Alps for some wooshing and apres, backpacking from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, heading to the Lake District for some fresh mountain air or lying on a beach in Bali sipping from a coconut, your travels will always have a knock-on effect on the world around you. Now more than ever, it is so important to consider these knock-on effects and and how we can mitigate the negative ones. The destination we jet off to on our holibobs for our five days/weeks/months adventure is someone else's home. Going to these places and travelling unsustainably is destroying our planet. It’s not all doom and gloom though, the good news is that there are a myriad of achievable ways to keep exploring and enjoying our beautiful globe whilst being a sustainable traveller:

1. Consider your transport

Flying is the most carbon-intensive activity an individual can do, holiday air travel making up around 10% of the average UK annual carbon footprint. If there is another option and you have the time, consider the train, bus or car. You’ll be saving the planet whilst also saving yourself money. Most of a plane’s carbon emissions are caused by take offs and landings so if you must take a plane, why not try and find a direct flight and avoid changes or stop-overs where possible. Once at your destination, walk, bike or public transport your way around wherever you can. 

2. Opt for locally owned hostels that recycle

By actively seeking out hostels that are locally owned your money will be going back to the local economy. Choosing to stay in a hostel with sustainability initiatives and that recycle makes such a difference however do watch out for green washing and that hostels aren’t taking advantage of sustainability as a buzz word without actually being green. 

3. Buy locally made products and use local services

By supporting businesses which are run by and employ local people, your money will positively contribute to the local economy. In contrast, by going to international chains, hotels and restaurants alike, your money will likely not enter the local economy. 

4. Be conscious of the wildlife

Seek out responsible tour operators. There are so many operating whilst harming the planet for profit. As a general rule, it is not a good sign if you are allowed to touch, hold or ride the animals.

5. Use a re-usable water bottle and lunch box

It is no secret that plastic waste is a huge problem and avoiding buying plastic drink bottles as a start makes a huge difference. If you’re worried about the quality of the drinking water in certain countries, do not fear, you can buy water bottles fitted with a filter. 

6. Get involved with community tourism projects

This is a great way to positively contribute to the country your are visiting however be sure to do your research. There are lots of reputable charity projects and NGOs to get involved with out there but there are also less legitimate ones, so be sure to check where your money is actually going!

7. Pack light

Your luggage contributes to carbon emissions, the heavier the plane, the higher its fuel consumption. Believe it or not, luggage allowances aren’t just in place to prevent us taking that extra cute top on holiday with us. 

What sustainable travel comes down to is finding a way that tourism can be maintained long-term, without destroying local environments, wildlife and economies. Sustainable travel should be the only way we travel because the reality is that if we don’t, our children and grand-children may never get the chance to see the world as we do now. 

Feature Image credits: janka00simka0 from Pixabay

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