More and more people try to consider the environment in everything they do. One of the worst things we do on a regular basis is travel. It won’t have escaped the attention of any of our readers that plane travel, in particular, doesn’t do any favours for your carbon footprint. However, while many people want to do their best on an environmental level, we have to be realistic. As of today, if you're going to get from one place to another that’s thousands of miles away, aeroplanes are the obvious option. So, we’re not going to tell you not to take a plane when you’re short on alternatives. What we are going to do is go through our biggest and best tips for keeping sustainability at the front of your mind wherever you go.
1. Always Take Your Own Drinks Containers
Many things you can do to ensure you’re as environmentally friendly as possible don’t require any sweeping changes to your lifestyle. Now, we have to admit that we’ve mentioned parts of this tip elsewhere on the site, but it’s a great way to cut down on waste. When you travel, consider what you drink the most and take an appropriate, reusable container with you.
If you like water, take a bottle with you and fill it up each morning to hopefully last you the day. Of course, depending on where you travel to, the tap water might not be great. In those cases, buy water in bulk and fill up from that. One large container generally creates less waste than a dozen small ones. The same applies to reusable coffee cups and any other containers that suit you.
2. Do What You Can to Stimulate the Economy
Part of the charm of travelling is experiencing local cultures for yourself. You can do your part for the planet in the process by spending your money while you experience these cultures rather than going with big business. Sure, you’ll end up in places where you’re not keen on the local cuisine, and small shops don’t have what you need. However, if the opportunity arises, try to check out local restaurants and stores rather than eating every meal in the local McDonald’s – and believe me, there will be a McDonald’s if you look hard enough.
3. Enjoy Eco-Friendly Travel in Your Destination
If you’ve chosen your destination well and planned out what to do and when you should have the opportunity to travel around without too much impact on the environment. Walk to most places and consider hiring a bicycle rather than a car. Some opportunities will arise where a car is the only option, but see if there’s a way to carshare or split the fare in an Uber, as one journey is always better for the environment than two.
4. Save Energy in the Hotel
We’ve never stayed in a hotel that bills separately for your electricity and water use. If your focus is on value for money, then you might be tempted to use as many resources as possible. However, if your intentions are more sustainable in nature, you should do all you can to keep your resource use low.
Opportunities are plentiful. You can make a point of bringing your own toiletries, leaving it up to someone else to use those tiny bottles you find in most hotel rooms. You can also hang your towels up – it’s the international code for ‘these towels don’t need to be washed today’. You’ll spot opportunities everywhere you stay, so think about taking them.
5. Check Out Local Sustainable Options
If you want to help the environment, you’re not alone and the chances are you won’t be no matter where in the world you happen to be. While you’re looking up places to eat and things to do, take a look at projects and initiatives in the area too. Something as simple as taking a couple of hours out of your time away to help a local tree-planting project can make plenty of difference. The wider you cast your net, the more memorable an experience you’ll find.
6. Avoid Any Single-Use Items Unless They’re Essential
Building on the first tip, you should try to avoid anything that you use once and throw away and it extends much further than drinks containers. At the simplest level, this can mean going for the hand dryer or towel rather than paper alternatives in public bathrooms, but it can extend to clothing and equipment in activities and anything else that comes to mind.
7. Don’t Forget Your Habits from Home
If you’re away on vacation, it’s tempting to leave the routine behind and let your hair down. We’re not against fun by any means, but if there are habits you’re in at home that can help the environment, don’t let them slip while you’re away. If you need to throw something away, try your best to find a way to recycle it. If you can reach somewhere by bus, don’t take a cab.
8. Search Out Eco-Friendly Airlines
We’ve already accepted that there just aren’t any realistic ways to get to some places other than on an aeroplane. Unless you have a private jet and a load of biofuel, you can’t make significant changes to flight plans. However, you can favour airlines that attempt to make changes themselves. It’s rare for a destination only to be served by a single airline, so go with the one with a commitment to carbon neutrality, reduced single-use plastic or anything else that makes sense.
9. Do the Same with Accommodation
Enough people care about the environment nowadays that some establishments factor it into marketing. Even if it costs a little more, seek out certified hotels, restaurants and other destinations with a commitment to helping the environment.
10. Extend Your Stay
The longer you’re in one place, the less time you spend travelling and the fewer emissions you produce. You probably don’t need us to encourage you to stay away for longer, but with environmental benefits in the deal too, it’s almost a no-brainer!