Is travelling sustainably on your mind?
It is no secret that air transportation emits lots of carbon into the atmosphere and due to cheap flight fares, we are making a negative footprint on the environment as we are traveling more.
And if you are like me, you love being immersed in nature but what about the flora and fauna and delicate ecosystem we infringe, when we explore these natural wonders of the world?
So, before it’s too late, it’s time we take our responsibility for the environment seriously by learning how to travel sustainably.
If you want to combine travel and sustainability, a sustainable travel expert from Women Wandering Beyond, will guide you on 15 sustainable ways to travel.
- A Sustainable Travel Guide to Stockholm, Sweden
- Sustainable Travel Guide To The Netherlands
- Green Train Travel – Is Traveling by Train Finally Replacing The Plane?
Sustainable Travelling: What Is It?
According to the The World Tourism Organization, it is :
“Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of its visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities”
Travelling sustainably is a way to maintain tourism for the long term, without harming the natural environment and local cultures.
Travelers need to be aware of how tourism affects locals and their businesses, including their cultures. This awareness will ensure that tourism is beneficial to the destination it operates in for future generations.
If we want to continue traveling and explore the beauty of the world, we have to value the environment and look after our natural resources.
How Can We Be Sustainable While Traveling?
Advocating sustainable ways to travel doesn’t happen overnight but you can start now. Taking the first step is always the hardest but then you will slowly get used to it
Let’s see what you can do to support environmentally-friendly travel for your next trip.
Eco Friendly Destinations
1. Choose A Destination That Values Sustainability
The first thing we think of when we want to travel is the destination. If you want to have a sustainable trip, choosing a sustainable destination is the first step.
Another option that makes your life easy is to book your sustainable vacation with sustainable travel companies. You don’t have to spend a lot of time doing research or planning the trip as we have done it for you below!
Here are some sustainable travel companies you can consider:
Try to ask for a sustainable travel guide if this is your first time. The guide can help to educate and inform you about sustainable practices throughout your trip, so the next time you go traveling, you don’t need to hire one.
Sustainable Transport Options
2. Choose The Most Sustainable Transport
Nowadays, you have many transportation options to help you reach your destination. So,it makes sense to choose the most sustainable transportation.
If you are traveling alone or in twos, it is better to fly (think about zero-waste air travel!), take the train or bus instead of a car unless you are traveling in a group. Taking the bus or train is always more sustainable than flying or driving.
3. Take A Direct Flight To Your Destination
If you have no choice but to take a flight to the destination, reducing the number of flight changes is a great option. Try to look for the shortest flight path to the destination because flights emit the most during take-offs and landings.
I know direct flights are quite expensive and some of us love to travel within our budget. Fret not! I got you covered.
You can sign up for these newsletters below, because they will share the best flight deals for you to grab :
Also, here are some budget travel tips to help you save while traveling!
4. Buy An Economy Class Seat
Did you know that business class fliers leave way more carbon footprint than economy class fliers?
It is because they take more space which results in a lower number of passengers in a flight.
In 2021, companies such as S&P Global, HSBC, and Zurich Insurance announced their plans to immediately cut business travel emissions by 70%.
It is great to see these big companies starting to consider their “carbon budget”, so I think we should also play our part to help lower carbon emissions.
It is no secret that buying an economy-class seat is also good for your budget. However, I know that comes with another price: comfort.
So here are some tips to help you make economy-class feel like first class.
My favourite tip is to bring your own fancy blanket on a flight because it will get chilly at some point and having your own cashmere lightweight blanket will make you feel warm and luxurious on your trip.
5. Take The Most Sustainable Transport To Help You Get Around The Area
Once you reach your destination, observe your surroundings.
See how the locals travel and copy them. Some will use bicycles or motorcycles, but if the locals are most likely to use cars then you can take public transport to get around instead.
Try to avoid renting cars unless you are traveling in a group. Using sustainable transport is fun, as it will help you learn more about other cultures.
My suggestion is that you walk or rent a bike. These two options are the most eco-friendly ways to travel. Plus, these modes of transport will help you get a closer and more engaged relationship with the locals and places there.
Confession: I rode a motorbike around the mountains of Vietnam and a rickshaw through Sri Lanka, these experiences were so enriching!
6. Book Locally-Owned Accommodation
Selecting accommodation that helps to inject money back into the local economy is one way you can support sustainable travel.
You can book your accommodation at Bookdifferent.com.
They support sustainable and eco-friendly travel. The site includes an eco-friendly rating and also calculates your carbon footprint per night depending on your choice.
7. Book Your Accommodation At Green Certified Hotels Or Hostels
If you see a tag that says “Eco-certified” next to a green leaf, this means the accommodation has been certified as environmentally sustainable by an independent organization recognized by Google.
You can learn more on how to look for eco-certified hotels from the Google support page.
8. Avoid Large Resorts And All-Inclusive Packages
We all know large resorts are competitors to locally owned accommodation.
All-inclusive packages are not sustainable, because you cannot plan your trips your way and they will not bring you to local restaurants or anything related to supporting locals, as they are foreign-owned.
The money you pay will not benefit the local economy.
Note- I know this is a generalization, just my personal experience when I booked all inclusive packages before I became eco savvy when I traveled!
Eco Friendly Activities & Tours
9. Support Sustainable Activities & Tours
If you are looking for a sustainable tour, you can book from these sustainable travel companies.
- National Geographic Expeditions
- Earthwatch Institute
- Lindbald Expeditions
- Quark Expeditions
- ROW Adventures
10. Respect Wildlife
Respect our precious wildlife by keeping a distance from animals and try to avoid touching them. Your attention might cause stress and anxiety to them.
If you want to go on wildlife tours, avoid one that promises up-close encounters with animals because it is unethical. Support tours that won’t disturb wildlife.
11. Protect Sea Life
The same principles apply when you want to enjoy water activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving.
Be careful with coral as they contribute greatly to the ecosystem. Coral reefs provide a home to 25% of all the world’s marine life and they provide food for a variety of fish. The most important part is, they clean the water they’re in.
Coral reef degradation is a global concern. Climate change, pollution, overfishing, population growth, and unsustainable tourism practices are driving factors in the decline of our marine ecosystem. Coral reefs can recover from temporary damage, but continuous stress from human activities can prevent them from recovering. Plan your next trip in a responsible way that helps protect coral reefs.
Reduce your carbon footprint by using sustainable modes of transportation. Consider choosing eco-friendly products, as well as avoiding harmful chemicals that damage marine life and coral reefs. While traveling, be conscious of your water conservation efforts. Whenever possible, shorten showers, skip cleaning services at hotels, repurpose towels, and pack reusable water bottles to reduce plastic waste.
Make sure you wear reef-friendly sunscreen, because normal sunscreen is harmful to all sea life including the coral reef.
Here are some of my recommendations for eco friendly tours you can join to enjoy the sea:
- Blue whale tour in the Azores
- Seychelles Island conservation holiday
- Family scuba diving in the Red Sea
- Outback and Reef tour in Australia
- Liveaboard diving and sailing holiday in Greece
12. Support The Local Environment
Another way you can travel sustainably is by supporting and appreciating the local environment.
Spend your travel budget on locally-owned restaurants and cafes. This is a way you can try their traditional food, home-made cooking and learn more about their culture.
I like to try local street food.
Who knows, you may find a new favorite food while travelling sustainably. (For example, I discovered Nyonya food while trying local food in Malaysia. Tremendous!)
You can try using EatWith to find a local host near you or you can have a meal with a local family.
13. Sustainable Shopping
For some, travel is not complete without at least one souvenir.
Buying locally-made items to take home as souvenirs is way more meaningful than imported souvenirs that have been flown or shipped in.
Plus, the shipping process will emit a carbon footprint. We want to avoid more carbon being released into the atmosphere.
You can ask beforehand where the items come from just to confirm. Sometimes, they sell items that look like they have been made locally but are imported.
14. Pack Eco-Friendly And Sustainable Essentials
Travel light. You don’t need to bring clothes according to the days you travel because you can wash your clothes at your destination.
If you are not sure what to pack, pack eco-friendly travel items.
Here is the sustainable travel packing list you can follow:
10. Reusable menstrual cup (for women)
12. Travel towel
15. Travel Off-Peak
According to Green Pearls : Off-season travel has many benefits, one would be evading the negative impact of rising tourist numbers on these destinations: Nature and animals suffer from the crowds and what they leave behind; plastic bottles and cigarette butts. Destinations are exploited to entertain tourists, while locals lose affordable housing and the destination ‘s authentic charm.
The best part about traveling off peak is you are more likely to see a side of the location that not many travelers get to see.
You get to enjoy the authentic experience which you wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience, if you traveled during peak season.
5 Examples Of Sustainable Tourism
Located in Dana Biosphere Nature Reserve, Jordan, this place has developed a reputation as one of the world’s best examples of sustainable tourism.
The accommodation is solar-powered which greatly reduces the overall carbon footprint. It is a partnership with the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.
Bhutan is one of the world’s unique tourist destinations because the entire country operates on a high-value, low-impact model. They try to maximize the economic benefit but at the same time, minimize the negative impact on the environment.
Bhutan created a new policy that enforced strict entry requirements and charged daily tariffs. Money generated from the new policy is then channeled to conservation efforts and invested into the country’s public services, culture, and infrastructure.
There is a potential for safari tours to be exploitative and harm wildlife, but a few tour operators are now operating sustainable and more ethical safari tours which also contributes back to the local area.
AndBeyond is a tour company that offers luxury safari tours in Kenya, Botswana, and other locations. They install electrical micro-grids to make energy consumption more sustainable and invest in the local land, animals, and people.
Mdummbi Backpackers’ target market are those who have an interest in sustainable tourism.
It is an ideal base for whale watching, hiking, and other activities as the hostel is situated in South Africa.
This hostel has adopted a few eco-friendly practices such as using solar power, installing a more sustainable waste management system, and an ownership model that allows local employees to own shares.
The Six Senses Resort is a five-star luxury resort located in Fiji.
The resort follows sustainable tourism principles such as reducing the use of plastic bottles, having a rain capture and water filtration facilities and the whole resort is entirely powered by solar energy.
The project helped to remove 300,000 used plastic water bottles from the island and they also contributed to several water purification fountains.
Travelling sustainably can be budget-friendly and it can be luxurious. This is up to you to decide.
It’s important to remember, we can have it all. We can travel AND protect the precious environment we live in.