Sustainable Travel Tips For "Green Travel"
If you travel, you will leave a charcoal smudge in your wake. You can’t help it. Planes spew carbon emissions, hotels guzzle gallons of water to launder sheets and towels, and thirsty travelers chug-a-lug plastic bottles of water. But don’t let the guilt dampen your vacation. Eco-friendly travel practices can lift the remorse and lighten the blemish on Mother Earth.
It's one thing to want to be more eco-friendly, but it's sometimes hard to put that into action. It’s not always easy to take the time to incorporate sustainability into your vacation time. But, there are incredible experiences for vacations out there that are affordable and sustainable.
If you ask travellers around if they’d prefer to be responsible or irresponsible travelers, most would likely choose the former over the latter.
what does “Green Travel” even mean? How do you do it? Do you have to sleep in a tent and cook on a solar-powered camp stove in order to be considered eco-friendly?
Well, is not just about that, it is more about your decisions and actions. When done well, green travel is the antithesis of mass tourism. It’s all about trying to make smarter choices that help to mitigate the negative impacts we create when we travel. These sustainable travel tips can help you plan an eco-friendly adventure.
Green Travel tip 1. Pack lightly
Have you ever had the experience of travelling and you brought a “carry-on” but it’s too large so the airline checks the bag? Every kilo counts when flying. The more a plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces. Pack only what you need - the environment will thank you.
You’ll be able to catch public transportation easier which means less carbon footprint. Plus, for air travel, your gear weighs less which means the airplane weighs less which means less fuel and fewer carbon emissions used for your trip.
How to pack lightly? If you have a tendency to overpack, try packing...then unpack and cut it in half. Or you can try the rule of three. Three shirts, pairs of socks, underwear, and pants, one dress if you’re fancy. Why three? One to wear, one to wash, one to dry.
Nowadays there is tons of smart travel light gear in the market. Have you ever heard about collapsible water bottles? You heard right, a bottle that reduces to a third of its size. If you going on an adventure trip in the outdoors environment, there is no need to carry a large thermos in your suitcase. You can also travel with a foldable backpack or foldable microfiber towel. All great options for light traveling.
Before travel Inform yourself about the activities available, weather, appropriate dressing so you don't bring excessive & useless equipment.
2. Pick your gear wisely
When travelling in fragile ecosystems, or regions without proper sanitation, it’s important to know that the products you use will most likely be disposed of in that region. Avoid products such as microbeads, aerosol cans, and sulfate shampoos.
Using biodegradable soap, shampoo, and other products can ensure you leave the place you visit just as pristine for locals and future visitors.
If you going in the water, biodegradable sunscreen is actually a type of sunscreen that is free from a majority of the chemical ingredients that are often found in regular sunscreen. It is considered to be eco-friendly in that it will not damage plant and animal life as it washes off during swimming, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
No matter where you are, pick up and dispose of your trash properly. Whether it’s not littering in a city or on a trail, packing out your trash is incredibly important to sustaining the fragile environments humans love to play, visit, and vacay in.
3. Share the load
Taking public transport is one of the best things you can do for the environment when traveling. It means you're not creating any additional carbon emissions from private transport. It will also add to your travel experience, providing you with opportunities to interact with locals.
Some of your most memorable moments could be from public transportation. Whether it’s witnessing a dance on the train or starting a conversation with another traveller or local resident it can be a unique and entertaining experience. Further, public transportation is energy efficient, saves money, and with an open mind can be more exciting.
Green travel tip 4. Travel overland
Cut out just one five-hour flight and your carbon footprint will be a tonne lighter. And you'll get to see more of the countryside too!
If you’re traveling with family or friends and the destination is within driving distance, perhaps you should consider taking a road trip. But if you’re traveling by yourself, it’s actually much more eco-friendly to fly!
If you decide to drive to your destination and your car isn’t eco-friendly, consider renting a hybrid or electric vehicle, which uses less fuel and produces fewer carbon emissions than gas-guzzlers.
5. Map it out
Plan out your trails, activities and spend some time thinking about the impact of the adventures on your agenda. Would you really enjoy hiking a notorious but crowded trail or can you research some less travelled spots nearby? Can you bike somewhere as opposed to ATV and cut down on carbon emissions? Planning these activities ahead of time lets you know your best and most eco-friendly activity options. Spreading out the impact of tourism helps sustain tourist destinations for longer periods of time. It also shares the economic benefits across a wider range of people in that area as well.
6. Keep it local, Green Shopping tips
Buy locally made (preferably handmade) products, rather than those that have been imported. Items that are flown or shipped in have a much larger carbon footprint, and who wants a cheap, cookie-cutter souvenir made on an Asian assembly line?
Take your own reusable bag when you go shopping. Plastic bags are SO 20th century. you want memories of your holiday to last for years, but 500 years is far too long. Plastic bags can take that long to biodegrade so take a re-useable shopping bag with you when you go to local markets. Produce or Canvas shopping bags are the way to go in 2020.
Seek out local artisans when you can. When you buy directly from an artist, you’re not only helping them feed their family, but in many cases you’re helping to preserve their culture. We’ve also heard some pretty amazing stories by chatting these artisans up.
Drink a locally brewed beer and not only will you probably enjoy a high-quality ale, but your drink can be low-carbon by cutting down on 'beer mileage.' This applies to eat local produce too. Let your taste buds be adventurous – it's carbon-friendly!
7. Be at home in a hotel
A great tip is to remember to act in a hotel like you would at home – avoid getting clean towels when not necessary, don't have long showers and remember to turn off TV, lights, and aircon when you leave the room.
Try to choose a green hotel. Ask if the hotel has a recycling program. If not, encourage them to start one when you leave suggestions on comments cards at check-out.
Ask questions about the hotel’s sustainability initiatives, such as solar power, wind turbines, rainwater harvesting, energy-efficient lighting, and low-flow toilets.
Find out what percentage of the hotel’s resources are local. Do they hire mostly local staff? Do they get most of their foods locally, or even grow them on the property? Do they use locally sourced materials in the décor? Companies that utilize indigenous resources tend to be more sustainable, as they’re investing in the local economy.
Green travel tip 8: Choose a carbon-offset adventure
Not all carbon emissions can be avoided whilst traveling. Some companies have a range of adventures that it has calculated the carbon emissions for, reduced wherever possible and offset what remains. The emissions from transport, accommodation, activities, and waste have been accounted for and the cost of offsetting is included in the cost of the trip.
Try to book non-stop flights whenever you can: It’s the takeoffs and landings that create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions.
If you have the time, traveling via bus, train or ship generally has less negative environmental impact than traveling by plane.
8. Avoid bottled water
Plastic bottles account for a lot of waste. According to container Recycling More than 480 billion plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the globe, which increased exponentially from around 300 billion bottles a decade ago.
On top of that, it is estimated that over half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold in 2020.
By 2021 it’s estimated that the number of plastic bottles will increase to 583.3 billion, according to estimates from Euromonitor International’s global packaging trends.
As we mentioned Earlier, Reusable Collapsible Water bottles are easy to wear and manage. When the bottle is empty, just fold it and keep it in your bag. You can always fill it again in any reliable freshwater source. Many international airports have free water dispensers, which saves you money and wasting plastic bottles.
9. Water-saving green travel tips
Try to take shorter showers, turning the water off while you lather up, shampoo, shave, and/or brush your teeth.
Never use the hotel laundry, as they typically wash every guest’s clothes separately (even when there are only a few items). We usually wash our clothes as we shower, then hang them up overnight so they’re dry the next day.
Hang up your towels after each use, which is the universal sign that you’d like to use them again. You don’t wash your towels every day at home, so why do it when you travel?
In our case, we prefer to travel with Microfiber Foldable towels. They fit easily in your travel bag and can be used in the shower, at the beach, Hiking, working out etc. You can always let it soak in water for a few minutes and let them dry for a couple of hours.
10. Energy-saving green travel trips
When you leave your room, always turn off all lights, heat/AC, and television. Closing the curtains and blinds can help keep out the heat of the sun in summer.
Leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door of your room for the duration of your stay. This cuts down on chemical cleansing agents, electricity used in vacuuming, and the washing of bed linens.
Walk, bike, or use public transportation to get around whenever possible, which cuts down on gas usage and saves you money.
Return maps, brochures, and other tourist info once you’re finished with them so that they may be reused by future travelers.
Take any leftover soap, shampoo, or toothpaste with you. Unused portions are often thrown away, and you can reuse the plastic bottles in the future. Traveling with a smart Eco friendly Travel kit is highly recommended. They usually include organic or reusable green environment-friendly items that are harmless and reduces waste.
Chose Solar power bank chargers. Nowadays we depend on technology. We use our mobile phone all day. Not only to send a message or call someone but also as a route planner, camera, payment device and even as a social companion. Phone batteries drain fast and travelling to remote green destinations where there are power limitations is a possibility. Solar Power bank chargers are a solid, eco friendly and reliable device. They can also get us out of trouble if an emergency occurs.
11. Stick to the path
When hiking, always stay on marked trails and maintain a safe distance from any animals you encounter. Going off the beaten path could mean you trample on protected or endangered plants.
Marked hiking trails are there for a reason. Stick to the path to avoid harming native flora and avoid any creepy-crawlies that may be lurking in the underbrush.
Bring along a small bag and pick up any trash you spot along your hike. Have a friendly competition to see who can clean up the most unsightly waste!
Research weather conditions and terrain before you go hiking. You don’t want to be that guy (or girl) who got lost and required a ranger rescue, which wastes public resources.
12. Power in numbers
Smaller groups tend to have less of an environmental impact, so travel with a small group tour operator that's environmentally responsible. Before you book, ask what size the group will be. While you've got their attention, why not also ask how the operator gives back to the community you'll be visiting.
When snorkeling or Scuba diving, don’t touch/step on the coral or stir up sediment, as it can damage the reef’s fragile ecosystem.
Don’t take any tour that promises hands-on encounters with wild animals, such as riding elephants or walking with lions. If you do, you’re supporting an industry that illegally captures, transports, and abuses millions of animals each year.
13. General Tips for Being a Green Traveler
Honor local customs. Do a little research before you travel to learn about the destination’s local cultural traditions so that you can speak and behave appropriately.
Ask for permission before taking a photo of someone. In some cultures, taking a person’s picture is like stealing their soul. and in general, it’s just common courtesy. Don't offer money just for the sake of posing for the photo. It creates expectations and dependency on the local community. In addition, it will ruin the experience for future travelers.
Learn the language or at least a few important words. You don’t have to do a full Rosetta Stone course. But you’d be amazed by how knowing simple phrases such as “Thank you,” “My name is,” and “Please help me” will impact the way locals will treat you.
Immerse yourself in the local culture. Be a participant, not just an observer. Half the fun of traveling is getting an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and try different foods, listen to different music, and explore different cultures. So, seriously, don’t be that guy who goes to India and insists on ordering a hamburger!
The truth is that sustainable travel (ecotourism) is all about making simple choices in order to lessen your negative impact on a given destination.
Individually, each one of these choices makes only a small difference in the big picture. But collectively, becoming more conscious about these little things can have a huge cumulative impact.
If you are planning on going on a trip, have a look at a carbon footprint calculator. and be aware. If you plan ahead, there are endless possibilities to make a more sustainable trip.