Travelling is notorious for having a really negative impact on the world so you might think that there’s no way it can be sustainable! But if there’s a will there’s a way and here’s what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.
This tip is as helpful for you as it is for the environment. The golden rule for every trip is that you have to carry what you bring. You might want to bring a huge selection of clothing to pick from but realistically, how are you physically going to carry it on your back? Packing lighter is the way forward and it'll also benefit the environment because it frees you up to use public transport, bike or even walk instead of paying for your own taxis constantly.
Travel by road where possible
Travelling by plane produces far more CO2 per person than any other type of transport by a long shot. So if you have the time to spare opt for one of the various other land options, such as a car, bus or train. There are also additional steps you can take to cut down your carbon footprint further even on the road, like renting a hybrid or electric vehicle. But where you can always go for buses as they are three times as efficient as cars for trips of 300-500 miles according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.
Offset your carbon footprint
Of course, travelling by road isn't always possible especially when you are going across continents. If you can do try to book non-stop flights because the stopping and starting are where most of the fuel consumption happens. Also if you're doing a lot of travelling over a longer period of time, try staying at your destinations longer than just a few days. It gives you the chance to really get to know the local area and also cuts down extra travel. To go one step further you can also compensate for your emissions by funding an equivalent CO2 saving elsewhere, use sites like ClimateCare.org to work it out.
Opt for greener accommodation where possible
Trade in your resource-guzzling hotel for a more sustainable option. There are plenty of eco-friendly accommodations dotted around the world which you can find on sites like ecobnb and greenpearls. But if your options are limited it is best to stay in multi-person dorms where resources are shared between more people or use airbnb and stay as a guest at in someone's house, which will help your bank account to.
Try not to waste
There are many things you can do to avoid contributing to unnecessary waste. For example, never use the hotel laundry because they usually wash every guest's clothes separately. Instead, if you want to be extra eco-conscious, then you can handwash them when you shower and hang them up to dry. In a warm climate, they’ll be ready in no time. Similarly, don’t wash your towels after one use, hang them up and reuse them. Always turn off all lights, heat/AC, TV, and other electronics when you leave the room. Close the curtains to help keep the sun out. take leftover soap, shampoo and hotel amenities with you as they will only be thrown away otherwise. You can reuse the plastic bottles later on.
Avoid plastic water bottles
Make sure you bring your own reusable bottle with you on your travels so you don't have to keep buying plastic water bottles each day. It's best to pick one with a water purifier filter so that you can continue avoiding unnecessary plastic use even in countries with unsafe drinking water.
Support eco-friendly tours
Tourism is a huge money-making industry and with it comes lots of irresponsible, resource-draining tour providers wanting to make a profit without any care or consideration for what cost others will have to pay. You would be better off checking beforehand with sites such as Sustainable Tourism to find a list of sustainable tour operators from around the world that can point you in the right direction for your eco-friendly travels.
Be careful with animal excursions
No doubt if you're reading this list you're an animal lover! So like everyone else the idea of getting up close and personal with some of the most beautiful and exotic creatures in the world is an opportunity you long for. Sadly that perfect holiday photo on the back of an elephant or swimming with dolphins could come at the cost of the animal's welfare. It is common knowledge that too often those animals are suffering after being captured from the wild or even bred for the purpose of making a profit from tourists. It's not all doom and gloom, there are many ethical animal experiences available, you just have to do your research!
Support local businesses
Whilst you are travelling try to fully immerse yourself and shop and eat locally. Not only is it an amazing way to experience a new place but it's also a way for you to support local businesses. The products will have less of a carbon footprint than items that have been shipped or flown out, plus they are extra special for having actually come from the place you are staying.
Borrow and give
When going on your travel adventures you will most likely be in need of some specific travel gear. Before you head straight for the shops, why not first ask around friends and family to see if you can potentially borrow those items, or even search charity and second-hand sites to give those items a second lease of life. Similarly, once you are finished with the items then offer them out to others so they can get some more use instead of just sitting in a box somewhere at home. Whilst travelling be sure to keep this philosophy alive and offer out maps, brochures and other tourist information you are finished with.