Travel has many benefits for both the traveller and the destination. It offers an exchange of cultures, economic benefits and a different perspective on the world around us but this can be at a cost to the planet through CO2 emissions. With over 1,322 million International tourist arrivals in 2017 it’s important to look at how we can make our travel sustainable.
What does sustainable travel mean?
Sustainable travel doesn’t have to mean huge changes to the way you take your holiday. Sustainable travel is about many people adopting many small changes. The overall impact of these changes can be huge.
At its core, sustainable travel is about ensuring you consider the environment when undertaking your trips.
Transportation and Travel
Flights account for a significant proportion of global CO2 emissions. To eliminate flight from international travel is unrealistic but we can change the way we use this form of transport.
Lots of airlines have environmental roadmaps stretching into the future but what can be done right now? Carbon offsetting is the process of undertaking a carbon reduction activity to balance a carbon producing one, such as a holiday flight. Lots of the major European airlines provide the option to donate to a carbon offsetting initiative and this can be a great way to minimise the environmental impact of your flight.
Another way to fly sustainably is to try to fly less. The cheapest way to fly usually involves several flights and connections that add layovers, and in turn fuel, to the journey. It’s possible to spend a little more in order to reduce the time you’re in the air. A more direct flight will inevitably produce less carbon emissions.
Finally, if you can use greener forms of public transport then do so! Cross-continental trains, inner-city trams and even Uber ride sharing are great ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Pack in image: Ozone 36
Your accommodation can also offer some sustainability wins.
If you’re looking for traditional accommodation, such as hotels and hostels, you can check to see if they hold one of the trusted Eco Accreditations. Hotels certified by organisations such as Green Tourism Business Scheme, Green Globe and STEP have been evaluated and approved by these recognised environmental bodies.
For the more adventurous sustainable traveler there are plenty of 100% green energy lodgings to be found but you can expect to pay a premium for these. Alternatively, for 100% green on a budget there’s always a tent!
The little things
The small things also add up. Here’s a few final ideas to take your first sustainable travel steps:
- Go paperless with your itinerary, confirmations and reservations – Your smartphone can even be used to get you through check-in scanners
- Carry a water bottle with you – Carrying a water bottle while travelling will cut down your reliance on plastics
- Be sensitive to highly visited areas – Always follow local guidance on how to act in a highly visited tourist location. If there is a sign telling you not to climb to that great photo location then it’s almost certainly for the good of the environment you’re in
- Walk wherever you can – Walking is a fantastic way to experience your destinations. Where walking isn’t possible, opt for a sustainable public transport
- Do not disturb – Use the do not disturb sign on your hotel room to avoid unnecessary towel washing and room cleaning
- Buy local – Wherever you visit, try to buy from local small business owners. This promotes sustainable and localised economic growth