These days travel has become more accessible than ever before, and unfortunately – this is causing problems, especially for the most popular travel destinations. They can be so big that some of the most precious attractions have even had to close down to preserve their fragile ecosystems. But there is hope on the horizon.
Passport Photo Online report states that sustainable tourism is heavily trending up, and roughly 89% of Americans claim they’ll travel more sustainably in the next 24 months. If we manage to keep that promise, we will become a part of the solution. By making small changes to our behavior, we can significantly reduce our environmental footprint while traveling.
Book eco-friendly accommodations
Look for accommodation that utilizes green energy sources, practices recycling and linen reuse initiatives, and gives back to the local community and environment. One of my favorite options is eco-lodges, which are often located in remote, natural areas, and usually rely on renewable energy sources, such as solar power, and use sustainable building materials. Many eco-lodges are also involved in conservation and community development efforts, allowing travelers to impact the local area positively.
When choosing eco-friendly accommodations, it’s essential to verify that the property truly practices sustainable practices and not only use the term as a marketing strategy. Look for certificates or awards demonstrating their commitment – the Green Key label is one of the best. You can also check their website or contact them to inquire about their sustainability practices.
Take fewer flights and use public transportation
Test the idea of flying less and staying in one place longer. This can allow you to minimize your carbon footprint and better connect with the local culture. Maybe you have always dreamt about becoming a digital nomad. This lifestyle is the ultimate slow travel experience. Working remotely would allow you to immerse yourself in different cultures for extended periods.
Public transportation is also rapidly gaining popularity, as more and more travelers are choosing to take the train, bus, or subway rather than driving or flying to their destination. It can be a more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable way to get around, particularly in urban areas.
Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle
Single-use plastics are a major environmental concern, and the travel industry is one of the significant contributors to this problem. Plastic bottles, straws, and bags are frequently used and discarded in the travel industry, and these items can take hundreds of years to degrade in the environment.
If you want to do something about it, bring a reusable water bottle and avoid those plastic cups on the plane. Use your own headphones instead of unwrapping the plastic-covered ones. If you need a straw – carry a bamboo or metal one with you. And always be mindful of your water and electricity usage.
Eat more sustainably
Food can be the best part of our travels! It’s a great (and delicious) way to better get to know a destination. But, not all local dishes are always sustainable. For example – in Iceland, you can find a restaurant serving whale, puffin, or shark meat. The downside is that these animals are endangered, and eating their meat fuels the demand and negatively affects whole populations.
Try opting for locally sourced, organic, and plant-based meals. This way, you will support local farmers and producers. I encourage you to visit farmers’ markets. They are full of fresh, locally grown produce, homemade goodies, and unique culinary delights. By purchasing directly, you will enjoy the freshest ingredients, reasonable prices and reduce your carbon footprint. It’s a win-win!
Sustainable travel is the future
As we try to slow down climate change and environmental degradation, our travels have an important role to play. By embracing sustainable practices like supporting local farmers, opting for eco-friendly accommodations, minimizing single-use plastics, and immersing ourselves in the local culture, we become conscious travelers who leave a positive impact wherever we go.
Let’s do our part in making sustainable travel choices for the health of our planet, communities, and ourselves.
Aleksandra Staromiejska is a travel, food, and wellness passionate who has visited 50+ countries on four continents. She is a Travel Leader for the adventurous travel company Solisci Adventure Club and the Digital PR Specialist at PhotoAiD. After spending a couple of months in Thailand and climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, she is getting ready for another adventure – spending three months in Argentina.