As a traveler, considering our carbon footprint can feel overwhelming. While we may have systems in place to reduce our impact at home, transferring these habits to our time abroad can be a challenge. Luckily, we have assembled a few quick tips to help anyone learn how to be a more sustainable traveler and bring their eco-conscious mind across the globe.
Use Public Transit
When visiting a new destination, opt for using public transportation instead of renting a car. This will reduce your carbon footprint, and give you a taste of what it means to be a local. To go one step further, some locations are very bike-friendly and have rentals scattered throughout the city. So grab a local map, strap on a helmet and get ready for a picture-perfect movie moment.
Active Destination Vacation
For adventurous travelers, booking an active, destination vacation, might be the perfect way to explore a new area and travel sustainably. Travelers looking for an on-the-go experience can book trips in bicycle touring hotspots such as Denmark, Norway, France, or China. Backpacking trips are also a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the culture and history of the region you’re visiting. They are also notoriously beneficial for your wallet and wellbeing. The West Coast trail of British Columbia, the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, and the Alta Via routes in the Italian Dolomites are all wonderful examples.
Choose Sustainable Tour Operators
As simple as it seems, doing thorough research before embarking on a tour can make a world of difference. When travelling abroad, it is difficult to determine whether a tour guide is following the area’s rules and regulations. Thus, researching the area’s legislation, and finding companies that follow them, is crucial for a responsible and sustainable experience.
When in Doubt, Camp it Out
In a post-covid world, a greater chunk of the population has turned to local camping for their summer travels and last-minute getaways. However, camping is often overlooked as accommodation while travelling abroad. This is a unique option for anyone looking to surround themselves with natural landscapes, develop wilderness skills and reduce their environmental impact. While this might feel a bit extreme for those looking to unwind and relax, incorporating a few nights of camping throughout a trip can easily do the trick.
Avoid On-the-Go Plastics
In 2021, a study conducted by the UN and the World Travel and Tourism Council found that water bottles, disposable toiletries, plastic bags, bin liners, food packaging and cups are the most
frequently used single-use plastic items in the tourism and travel industries. As a rule of thumb, it is customary for travelers to leave the spaces they visit better than they found them. One impactful way to achieve this is by saying no to all single-use plastic items. Investing in a reusable bottle, shopping at local markets, buying eco-friendly hygiene products and packing a few extra reusable bags, are easy ways to travel responsibly.
Make Memories with Eco-Tourism
Last but not least, for anyone looking to orient their entire trip—or at least the majority of it—around sustainable travel, consider looking into eco-tourism opportunities. Ecotourism is a form of responsible travel that involves exploring natural areas, prioritizing environmental conservation, and supporting the well-being of local residents. Ecotourism also incorporates aspects of environmental education and cultural awareness, while minimizing human impact on the natural world. Costa Rica, Kenya and Iceland are some examples of popular eco-tourism destinations.
Overall, travelling sustainably requires research, respect and planning. Once we adopt this way of thinking, seeing the world with a smaller footprint becomes possible. After all, thinking about what we leave behind ensures that there is something to revisit later on.
By: Briahna McTigue