If you're looking to make the push for more eco-friendly travels, this is an excellent place to start. These 10 tips are so easy you'll barely even have to think about them, yet they can add up to make a huge difference on your environmental impact. We here at TravelPirates (and the planet) will thank you!
1. Avoid Over-Crowded Destinations
We all love a good bucket-list destination, but unfortunately over-tourism can take a major toll on the environment. For example, in recent years Machu Picchu has suffered from erosion by visitors footsteps, littering, and air pollution.
We don't want to stop you from visiting your dream destination, but we urge you try to choose low-season dates, look into nearby alternative destinations, or even donate to conservation efforts to help offset your impact.
2. Use E-Tickets
This is an easy one! Instead of printing out your tickets and confirmations, opt for an e-ticket. Most airlines and train companies have apps where you can download your tickets for user-friendly scanning. Paper saved!
3. Use Ground Transportation Between Cities
We're not encouraging you to hop on a 12-hour bus ride (unless you're willing to, of course), but if it's between a one-hour flight or a three-hour train, we'd recommend taking the train as the more eco-friendly option. Unfortunately planes are a major culprit of greenhouse gases within the travel industry — luckily there are plenty of alternatives like trains, buses, or even driving (bonus points if you carpool).
4. Use Public Transportation (Or Better Yet, Walk Or Bike)
Not only are walking and biking excellent ways to get exercise and see a city like a local, they also have the lowest greenhouse gas impact. We all know sometimes you have to get across the city quickly for a packed day of sightseeing, though. Public transportation is a great alternative to grabbing a taxi. Plus, it can save you some extra bucks!
5. Choose Your Accommodations Wisely
Choosing sustainable accommodations can be confusing at best, and deceptive at worst. We're here to help. First, ask yourself these simple questions: How has this hotel affected its surrounding environment? (For example, is the resort contributing to deforestation?) Is the hotel's website transparent about its environmental impact and initiatives? Does the hotel use an excessive amount of single-use plastics?
Sustainable hotels don't have to be eco lodges — and sometimes these aren't possible in your destination or price range. If you're a fan of hotel chains, here are a few that have committed to lowering their impact:
- Fairmont Hotels
- Hilton Hotels
- Marriott Hotels
- Hyatt Hotels
- Starwood Hotels
Whenever in doubt, always feel free to call the hotel. If they're dedicated to lowering their environmental impact, they should be more than willing to speak with you about their environmental initiatives.
Alternatively, home-stays, hostel dorms, and even camping are excellent ways to minimize your impact.
6. Put Up Your Do Not Disturb Sign In Hotels
Do not disturb signs serve many purposes (wink, wink). In this case, putting up this sign can stop housekeeping from switching out your towels and replacing your plastic products every morning. If you choose to opt out of this cleaning, you'll save on laundry services and plastic products — services that can easily be replaced by hanging your towels to dry and bringing your own soap in reusable containers.
7. Carry A Reusable Water Bottle
A reusable water bottle can make a big difference whether, you're traveling or just going about your day at home. Just be sure to check whether the local drinking water is safe to drink. You might even be pleasantly surprised — most developed countries have perfectly safe drinking water. If it isn't, look into filtered water sources to fill your bottle, or consider investing in a self-purifying water bottle.
8. Bring Reusable Bags
These aren't just for groceries. Reusable canvas bags can be used for anything you shop for while traveling, from clothes to souvenirs to snacks. Using your existing bags can greatly help limit the number of plastic bags you'll accumulate on your travels.
9. Eat & Shop Local
Not only will you find the most delicious, fresh food if you eat local, you'll also save on the carbon imprint involved in importing food. The same goes for clothes and souvenirs. You'll have a unique, local memento, plus minimize your impact on the environment. It's a win-win.
Additionally, every dollar you're spending has the potential to support the local economy and community initiatives. Choose wisely!
10. Offset Your Impact
Just think about how much you get out of traveling: the beauty, exploration, wonder, and unforgettable moments. If you'd like to help preserve your favorite destinations, then there are many ways to contribute. First, help volunteer your time. Here's a game: every time you visit a beach or park, simply pick up a couple pieces of trash and throw them away (or recycle if possible). These small actions can help lower your overall footprint.
You can also look into non-profits in your destination. Contributing through volunteering or donating money can make a real difference. Just remember, everything adds up!
Need Help Planning Your (Responsible) Travels?
Featured Image Source: Noah Buscher