While traveling is a wonderful thing, it can be pretty hard on the environment. So as more and more people are traveling – it’s a truly wonderful thing to see other places and cultures – we have to be wary of the impact we have and take precautions to limit our impact.
Here are some simple steps to more sustainable travel that you can take.
Backpacking can be inexpensive and one of the most minimally invasive forms of travel. Whether you’re keeping to a strict budget or not, learn the seven principles of Leave No Trace to help minimize your impact as much as possible. Try to find trails that are frequented less than others to avoid overcrowding and overuse. Observe wildlife from a distance and do not to disturb them or their homes. Do everything you can to leave things the way you found them.
Choose Your Travel Accessories Wisely
If you’re traveling to other countries, it’s important to realize that their sanitation systems might not be as advanced as ours. You also might be traveling to really pristine areas where the natural beauty should be preserved. In both cases, take necessary precautions. You want to leave behind an environment that’s better than when you arrived.
Products that include microbeads, sulfates or come in aerosol cans are often extremely harmful to the environment. So why not spend the extra couple dollars and purchase something that doesn’t have those ingredients? Avoid non-sustainable palm oil as well and make sure your products are biodegradable.
Use Public Transport
Using public transportation gives you a feel for the local culture in addition to being a more sustainable option. It can save you money and is more energy efficient than driving or hailing cabs. Give the bus or subway system a chance.
Leave It Where You Found It
Don’t take any plants, rocks or other natural items from the places you’re visiting. You might find something truly beautiful, but take a picture instead of taking the object with you. It shows respect for the area, and minimizes impact by keeping everything as it originally was. That way, other people can experience the same beauty you got to see.
You might want to go on an exotic vacation, but try supporting your local economy and stay close to home. Air travel accounts for around 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions, so if you drive and focus on surrounding areas, you’re having a much smaller impact – on both the environment and your wallet.
You might think you’ve seen everything where you live, but there’s always something to do; you just have to discover it. There are hidden gems to find. Or try driving an hour or so away for a little day trip.
Fly Carbon Neutral
If you must fly, check out airlines with carbon neutral programs. While there isn’t a way to make your emissions magically disappear, you can pay a fee that will go to a conservation organization. For example, Virgin Australia’s program funds Tasmanian Land Conservancy’s New Leaf Carbon Project, which is dedicated to protecting 12,000 hectares of forest to offset carbon emissions.
Use some time on your vacation to volunteer in a unique area or way. You can still visit the areas on your bucket list, but help them at the same time. Do your research and see what kinds of programs are offered and where. People are always looking for volunteers, whether for plant and habitat conservation or just keeping parks and trails clean and free of litter.
Choose Your Lodging Carefully
If you aren’t going backpacking or camping, find a hotel that’s eco-friendly or sustainable. Ecolodges are committed to conservation and giving back to the environment. Many large hotel chains are terrible with sustainability and don’t care about the community in which they’re located. Look into Airbnb and hostels as well; they’re more committed to the locality and environment.
Only Visit Select Famous Sites
Yes, famous sites are popular. For good reason. But not all of them may be right for you. If one particular site isn’t something that you’re really passionate about seeing, then don’t bother going. They’re sometimes packed and dirty because of inconsiderate people (tourists and locals) anyway. Try asking the locals what to do or researching the area for other things of interest.
We can all travel sustainably. It takes hardly any more effort than regular travel. All you have to do is be considerate with your choices and try to leave the area more beautiful than when you found it. Use traveling to try and make this world a better place!