Most of the world is anxiously awaiting the day when they can go on their next vacation – a vacation that has probably been postponed for over a year!
Even though the world of travel after COVID-19 might be difficult to imagine and everyone is excited to get back to normal, perhaps it is better for us to take a collective breather and re-evaluate the way we travel. This is especially true when it comes to sustainability and the possibility of making a positive impact on the destinations we travel to.
The world has been in hibernation mode and travelers now have the opportunity to make our inevitable return to travel, one that benefits the post-pandemic world. Consider these tips on how to make a positive impact the next time you travel, whether it helps our planet or contributes to rebuilding the world’s economies. If everyone participates in some of these small steps, we can start to make a difference!
Choose Eco-Friendly Destinations
There are so many popular travel destinations that have made the move towards more eco-friendly choices to help preserve the environment and make sustainability a priority. Ecotourism destinations allow travelers to see some of the most beautiful natural wonders around the world, while also making sure that tourists are traveling responsibly.
Here are some of the world’s top eco-friendly destinations:
- Costa Rica
- The Netherlands
- The Azores Islands
- New Zealand
- Bali, Indonesia
Another option for eco-friendly travel is to travel in your own backyard and stay local!
The lighter you pack, the fewer the resources that will be used transporting your luggage (the airplane, car, or train will be lighter and more energy-efficient). As an added bonus, you will also save more money by avoiding baggage fees!
It also doesn’t hurt to pack a reusable water bottle and reusable shopping bags for souvenirs. You can also purchase metal straws and reusable cutlery (such as washable bamboo products) etc. for on-the-go dining.
You can also choose to pack your own soap, shampoo, lotion, and other products so you don’t have to use the hotel toiletries. This will prevent empty plastic bottles of single-use toiletries from ending up in the trash after your visit. If you forget to pack something and end up choosing to use the hotel’s offerings, you can take the empty bottles home and refill them with your own products for your next trip, or of course, recycle them (if possible).
If you are going to take a plastic cup on the plane, hold onto it instead of throwing it away in that first trash run, if you plan to have a refill or a second drink.
When you travel somewhere warm and plan on spending time in the ocean, sunscreen is an essential item. Make sure you’re buying Reef Safe Sunscreen that won’t be harmful to marine life and coral.
Go Digital When You Can
Traveling green doesn’t have to be a hassle. Several airlines are allowing travelers to house their boarding pass on their smartphone, which saves paper and ink printing resources.
Also, there’s no need to pay for paper travel guides (for destination information, look for paper-free guidebooks online, on a travel app, or through travel podcasts). Scan important documents and upload them to the cloud so they are always accessible, such as your passport, IDs, maps, and whatever else you might think will be helpful on your trip.
Use “Green” Transportation
Using public transportation is an easy and affordable way to experience a destination like a local. Buses and shuttles are a very “green” option. Many cities offer bicycles for rent, which is a great way to get around and explore a city.
Many popular cities are very walkable! If so, take a tour on foot – you won’t even have to worry about getting lost on public transportation or figuring out the unfamiliar roads.
In some instances, it is unrealistic (or just plain impossible!) to get around a destination without a car. In these cases, consider renting a hybrid, electric, or fuel-efficient car.
Choose to Travel in a Small Group
Smaller group tour operators tend to be more environmentally-friendly, so there are many positive aspects of traveling with a small group.
Tourism can bring financial stability, empowerment to women, and wildlife conservation to even the most remote areas of the world. Traveling in a small group makes sure that pristine and indigenous cultures do not become overrun by tourists. It also supports local businesses and protects nature and wildlife from damage caused by over-tourism.
Before you book, ask what the tour operator does to give back to the communities and destinations you’ll be visiting.
Be Mindful Where You’re Staying
Many hotels give guests the option of reusing their towels and sheets rather than having them changed daily, which can reduce loads of laundry the hotel must do, saving valuable water and energy. If the hotel does not have a program like this, you can ensure that you are able to reuse the same towels and sheets by simply hanging the “do not disturb” sign on your hotel room door.
When you leave your hotel room for the day, make sure to switch the lights and the TV off. It would also help to unplug your devices when they’re not charging – even if your device is fully charged, if something is plugged in and switched on, it can still draw energy.
Eat at Local Restaurants
Wherever you are traveling, you should definitely make an effort to try some of the local food made by local people! Your money will go the furthest at local, independently-owned restaurants. We think that these restaurants also tend to serve healthier and yummier foods, as well as authentic local dishes.
Try to purchase your food from local establishments when possible (ie. choose a locally-owned coffee shop over a familiar Starbucks). This way, you’ll be supporting the local economy and local people as you travel, rather than large, international corporations.
Choose to Shop Local
When you want to shop, make sure to visit local markets, as this is often the heart of local life! You will hear the local language spoken, experience the hustle and bustle of it all, witness locals greet old friends, and purchasing their food for the day. It’s also a great way to make your trip more sustainable and to buy some amazing, local souvenirs! By shopping at markets, you will support the local people, like farmers and artisans.
Clean Up Where You Travel
Whenever you go to the beach, forest, or any other natural place, bring a bag and some gloves to pick up some of the trash you might see and then dispose of it responsibly. You can easily do this where you live in addition to when you’re traveling.
The Mediterranean has the highest proportion of micro-plastics in the sea in the world, and every little bit of cleaning up helps. Beach cleaning can also be a good way to make friends and meet some locals while you’re traveling. It is easy to research clean-ups in the area around you and spend some of your holidays making a difference.
Offset Your Carbon Footprint
A carbon offset is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for emissions made somewhere else. Purchasing carbon offsets are a quick way to lessen the negative impact of travel. Several airports around the world have made it easy by offering travelers the purchase of carbon offsets at airport kiosks. Additionally, numerous airlines will sell them when you go to book your flights.
Other simple ways to offset your carbon footprint:
- Donate to a tree-planting program
- Volunteer your time to tree planting
- Use a carbon offset calculator and pay into a carbon offset scheme
As you can see, there are many ways that you can focus on traveling more environmentally friendly and green. These are just a few of our suggestions.
Do you have a suggestion for another way to help travel more sustainably? Leave it in the comments section, below!
START PLANNING YOUR ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY GETAWAY TODAY
When you’re ready to explore a new or favorite destination as you make a difference, contact one of our TierOne Travel agents. They have extensive experience in life-changing travel and will be able to craft something incredible that is suited to your unique needs. One call; endless experiences!
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous