1. Choose Vacation Spots That Value Sustainable Living
Before booking a trip, do some research to see how sustainable your destination really is. Countries like Denmark, Sweden, Spain, New Zealand, and Australia are proud to be some of the most eco-conscious travel spots for tourists and are committed to protecting their natural resources and culture.
Even better–become a tourist in your own country! Whether you choose a true staycation and go on day trips in your own town or city, or find a beautiful beach or forest a couple of hours from home, there are so many unexplored corners of the world right on your doorstep.
2. Travel During The Off-Season
Overtourism is a big issue for many countries and can lead to a strain on local infrastructure when there are too many tourists at once.
If you’re able to vacation outside of school holidays or visit in the opposite season to most other tourists, this is the best option. The money you spend at your destination will really help businesses during times when they wouldn’t typically make as much income from travelers. You’re also likely to find that rates are more affordable and you will have a better selection of hotels and restaurants to choose from.
3. Look For Alternative, Eco-Conscious Transportation
We all know that air travel isn’t the most sustainable travel option out there, but sometimes, there aren’t many other options. Unfortunately, taking several weeks to travel by boat or train across continents isn’t very practical.
There are alternatives out there, though. Take direct flights where you can and, when you reach your destination, see if there are options for cycling or walking rather than getting an Uber everywhere. Cities like Amsterdam and Venice are known for their beautiful canals and many of the locals travel in sustainable, less harmful ways. There’s nothing stopping you from doing the same!
4. Keep Your Packing Minimal
No matter where you’re going or for how long, packing only what you need actually does help the planet. Every extra pound in your suitcase means more fuel for a plane to operate and, with most fast fashion purchases made specifically for vacations, you can help prevent thousands of tonnes of clothes from being sent to landfill.
Taking reusable basics like water bottles, cutlery, or straws also helps to keep unnecessary plastic out of waste plants in your destination. Instead of buying travel size toiletries, fill travel capsules or bottles with your everyday items. This will help you maximize packing space and allow you to continue using the cruelty-free or sustainable products you normally use at home.
5. Research More Sustainable Accommodations
These days, there are hundreds of options out there for true eco-friendly hotels and cabins. Places like Copenhagen’s Kong Arthur, one of the world’s first carbon-neutral hotels, and Angama Mara in Kenya, which follows a plastic-free policy throughout their properties, are great choices.
Sites like bookdifferent.com are the best place to research eco-certified accommodations and will help you to find places to stay that really care about sustainable travel and hospitality.
6. Shop Local When You Get To Your Destination
One of the most effective ways to make a positive impact on the local community is to buy from small businesses in your vacation spot. Instead of spending on cheap touristy souvenirs or eating at chain restaurants, enjoy a more authentic experience by supporting local business owners.
Not only does your money help that individual business, but you’re enabling the owners to put money back into their community. You’re also reducing your environmental impact by buying locally-sourced goods that are often made from traditional craft techniques by people in the area.
7. Limit Your Energy and Water Usage
You would probably never think to wash towels or bedding every single day when you’re at home, so why would you expect that when traveling?
If you’re staying in a hotel, hang your towels to both dry them and let any cleaning staff know that you don’t need them laundered that day. Or try leaving your “do not disturb” sign out for several days in a row to reduce unnecessary room cleaning or washing.
8. Support Eco-Friendly Tour Companies
Going on a tour is one of the best ways to see as much as possible in a short time, but not every tour company is that concerned about being environmentally-conscious.
Businesses like Gorilla Trek Africa and Safaris-R-Us are locally owned and operated, with a portion of their profits funding conservation efforts or education in their communities. Sustaining Tourism has an extensive list of eco-friendly tour companies all over the world to help you plan your adventures.
9. Choose Any Animal Experiences Carefully
While seeing wild animals in their natural habitats is incredibly exciting, think before you snap your quintessential vacation selfie.
Remember that animals should never be treated as human entertainment and should be living as free from interference as possible. Choose sanctuaries and conservation projects over experiences that force animals to behave unnaturally, or avoid animal-based day trips entirely if you can’t be certain that they’re sustainable.
10. Live In The Moment
Did you know that 3.5% of the world’s emissions are from the communications industry? Yes, even your social media-scrolling or email-sending is contributing to climate change.
If you’re traveling for fun rather than work, leave your phone in your hotel room if someone else in your group is taking theirs out for the day. Not only do you get to completely switch off from screens and distractions to really enjoy your trip, you’re also helping to cut down on tech usage that can negatively impact the environment.
As we get closer to 2022 and more and more travel destinations open back up to us, it’s natural to want to start exploring the world a little more. With these tips you can do so while still doing your part to limit your environmental impact.