Sustainable Travel: 6 Tips for Responsible Travelers
If there’s anything we should hold onto as life returns to normal, it’s the overwhelming sense of connectedness we feel toward our world and our fellow human beings. We’re truly all in this together, and we have a responsibility to each other and to our world to make it a better place.
This Earth Day, it’s a great time to consider how we travel and how we can make more sustainable choices. These actions may seem small, but our individual small actions quickly add up to a global impact.
While You're Planning
If you must fly to your destination, opt for nonstop flights whenever possible — the takeoffs and landings create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions, so cutting down on flights will help reduce your footprint. Plus, it’s so much easier and convenient.
Have extra time in your itinerary? Travel by land whenever possible. Flying is the most costly part of the trip in terms of carbon emissions, so rent a car or take a train and enjoy the scenic route while reducing your impact.
Look for certifications like LEED — hotels go through a third-party certification process and demonstrate sustainable design and operations to obtain these accolades.
Stay in a central location — walking is the easiest way to offset carbon emissions from traveling, so look for a spot within walking distance of top sites.
Scour hotel websites for sustainability initiatives like bulk dispensers vs. single use toiletries, linen and towel reuse programs, low-flow faucets and showerheads.
Choosing a Vacation Package Company:
If you’re traveling on a guided tour, consider the company’s sustainability efforts and initiatives. Look for companies who build carbon offsets into the cost of the package and who have a commitment to sustainable travel — this can range from ensuring drinkable water is available to refill water bottles at every hotel to tree planting initiatives.
Lastly, calculate your travel footprint so that you can offset your adventure. Buying carbon offsets (sponsoring the reduction of carbon emissions to offset your own) or donating to eco-conscious organizations is a great way to give back.
While You're Traveling
Reuse! Reuse! Reuse!:
Carry reusable straws, utensils and water bottles -- this is one of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of plastic waste on a trip (consider 3 plastic bottles per day times however many days you’re traveling -- it really adds up!). Also, bring a reusable shopping bag for souvenirs and skip the single use plastic bag the shop offers. Even better, this bag can double as a laundry bag on the way home. But, it may be inevitable that you'll have to use a plastic bag at some point; whenever possible, reuse anything you pick up and make sure to recycle it at the end of your trip.
When you’re out and about in the city, use public transportation and ride-share whenever possible. By skipping the taxi ride, you’ll also get a deeper experience in the destination.
Shop & Eat Local:
Support the local economy and the people in the destination by shopping local. Also, keep in mind that most local shops have a local supply chain which means your food/souvenirs don’t have to travel far.