Eco-friendly travel. Green travel. Sustainable travel. There are a lot of different buzz words that focus on the same goals: reducing our carbon footprints as travelers and leaving a positive, not negative, impact on the communities and environments we visit. The truth of the matter is that travel isn’t great for the environment. Planes, trains, and automobiles emit carbon emissions on massive amounts. Hotels use excessive amounts of water to launder towels and sheets. And giant throngs of people descending on those gorgeous, Instagramamble locations in nature can devastate landscapes and surrounding communities. It’s important that we work to find a balance between exploring the world and supporting the world we want to explore. Eco-friendly travel focuses on ways travelers can lessen these negative impacts on the Earth as we travel. In honor of Earth Day, we’re going to cover some very basic Eco-friendly travel tips so you too can make a positive difference! Many of these Eco-friendly travel tips are small things that each and every one of us can do- and if we all focus on making more Earth0conscious choices when we travel… together we can make a difference!
Eco-Friendly Travel Tips
- Choose destinations that are easy to walk or bike.
- If you can’t choose a destination that is easy to walk or bike, look for destinations with good public transportation systems so you can utilize those.
- Be aware of “overtourism” and avoid places where the local environment and/or communities are overwhelmed by travelers.
- Consider choosing a destination that has an Eco-friendly focus, places you can focus on buying local, or places that have volunteer opportunities to give back to the community you are staying in.
- If you’re flying, try to book non-stop flights. Take-offs and landings create the most carbon emissions, so reducing those can help lesson your carbon footprint when flying.
- When possible, travel by bus, train or ship- these options generally have less carbon emissions than airplanes.
- Use e-tickets instead of printing out paper tickets.
- Download maps instead of using paper maps or brochures.
- Once in your destination, stick to public transportation such as buses or subways to reduce carbon emissions.
- Consider walking or biking to your location instead of taking a vehicle. Not only are walking and biking better for the environment, they’re great ways to see new cities as well!
Hotel and Lodging Tips
- Book hotels that have a LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. This ensures that the hotel follows Eco-friendly industry standards on sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, and even materials used throughout the hotel.
- Book hotels that have a recycling program so you can recycle while staying on the property.
- Consider leaving your “Do Not Disturb” sign up if you don’t need your sheets and towels washed every day.
- If you need your room cleaned but don’t need your towels washed- be sure to hang them up. Towels on the floor will be washed and replaced but hanging towels are the universal sign for “I’m going to use these again!”
- Bring your own toiletries in reusable bottles to reduce the single use toiletries in plastic containers offered by hotels.
- Skip the buffet and order a la cart instead. Buffets are known to be incredibly wasteful.
- Carry your own silverware set so that you don’t have to use plastic silverware.
- Carry your own stainless steel straw to avoid plastic straws.
- Always pack your own water bottle that can be refilled- this way you can avoid single use plastic water bottles.
- Seek out restaurants that serve local food as opposed to food that is shipped in from all over. Local “farm to table” restaurants are a great option!
Touring and Excursion Tips
- When booking tours or excursions, look for smaller and privately owned companies that have an environmental focus.
- When booking any ocean or marine tours, specifically check their policies on protecting marine life and coral reefs.
- Avoid any and all tours or excursions that exploit animals, including tours and excursions that offer hands-on animal experiences such as swimming with dolphins or riding elephants.
- If you want an animal experience that supports animals instead of exploiting them, check for tours of animal hospitals or rescue centers.
- Be sure to use a reef-safe sunscreen for any water excursions. Here’s a great list of reef-safe sunscreens!
- Consider finding a volunteer experience instead of an excursion- giving back to the local community is a great way to leave a positive footprint!
Do you consciously practice any of these Eco-friendly travel tips? Let us know in the comments!