Why Do We Travel, and What Does Sustainable Travel Mean?
First, let's discuss the basis of traveling - leaving your home to go elsewhere, far away or nearby which can be for work or vacation, domestic or international.
Sometimes we travel alone, and at other times we travel with a significant other, a family member, or a colleague. Whatever the circumstances, there are plenty of sustainable travel solutions. Knowing a few simple tips and tricks will help you in most situations and keep your mind open to new adventures. Isn't that what traveling is all about?
What is a Sustainable Travel Plan?
In order to travel somewhere, you need a vehicle. Planes, trains, automobiles, and even boats are all typical ways to travel; but what is the most sustainable travel method? The answer depends on your destination (or how far away), how quickly you need to get there, and how many people are traveling with you. If traveling in large groups, have extra time, and are close enough to drive - this is actually greener than flying. For an added bonus, try renting an electric or hybrid car to take you there! Public transportation, like buses and trains, are also less harmful, but will take a bit longer.
How to Travel Sustainable?
However you decide to travel, once you arrive to your destination (unless it's a day trip) you will need a place to stay of course. There are tons of options when it comes to sleeping arrangements – from traditional hotels and motels, cozy bed and breakfasts, and now trending Airbnb options; there are even more unique places to choose from today than ever before!
If you are looking into local hotels and/or a bed and breakfast, consider these 3 questions:
- Does the hotel or location have any environmental certifications like LEED or Rainforest Alliance?
- Does the hotel employ and support local people in the community and/or use local resources?
- Does the hotel provide eco-friendly or health-related amenities, like sustainable food and bedding?
These are just a few of the many things to look for while researching your next travel adventure. Hotels and businesses around the world are working on solving sustainable challenges to better benefit their clientele, community, and environment.
Why is Active and Sustainable Travel Important?
What you eat and do during travel also has a big impact on the environment, depending on what you choose to imbibe in. As mentioned above, choosing to purchase food and activities that come from and support the local community and environment is an incredibly important part of being a sustainable traveler. Try not to support chain businesses that only seem to cater to tourists, or restaurants that import food; with little to no local flavor. These practices not only hurt the local community but importing goods also creates extra carbon emissions due to shipping and freight.
When traveling to exotic destinations, there is a huge potential for the surrounding environment and wildlife to be exploited for tourist attractions and entertainment. These are not sustainable practices and should not be supported; even more so when endangered species are being used as a wildlife tourist attraction or photo opportunity.
Simple Sustainable Travel Tips
Let's face it; we don't always get to travel to our preferred location. In cases where you don't necessarily get to choose where you stay or how you get there, there are many other ways you can be a sustainable traveler - even encourage your travel companions to do the same! Some general tips that are extremely easy to remember and take action on are:
- Carry a reusable water bottle around with you for quick fill ups and less plastic usage. The added bonus is that you will always have water with you wherever you go!
- Always turn off lights and A/C units when leaving your hotel room. It may not seem important to you at the time since you aren't paying the hotel's electric bill but, the more they have to pay in the long run, the more your stay could cost overall.
- Try to take public transportation when you can as they generally have less of an environmental impact overall.
- Reuse your own towels and travel with your own bedding to save water usage – Living Fresh sheets and towels dry 30% faster and absorb moisture 70% more than traditional towels.
- When souvenir shopping look for local artisans to purchase from, not mass produced imports.
Eco-Tourism & Sustainable Travel
When traveling anywhere for the first time, doing a bit of research before you go will definitely help you be more prepared for your destination. If you are a returning visitor, that is a great opportunity to learn more about the location each time.
Sustainable traveling and eco-tourism is on the rise, which luckily makes it easier to travel green! Companies like Green Tourism partner with hotels and travel agencies that meet their sustainable and eco-friendly standards. This allows travelers an easy platform to search for destinations.
Wherever you end up going, and whatever you end up doing; the important thing is trying to be as sustainable as possible when traveling. Doing whatever you can do to make a bigger impact because every action matters!