Your trip begins with deciding where you want to go. Search for destinations that prioritize sustainability and are committed to protecting their natural resources.
Choose accommodations with eco-friendly credentials and consider carbon offset programs for your flights. If possible, choose to travel by train as it results in a much smaller carbon footprint than air and car travel.
1. Research Your Destination
The first step in ensuring a fruitful travel experience is to thoroughly research your destination. This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process. You can watch itineraries on TikTok, read reviews in a blog, or even ask fellow travellers for advice.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, take into account the costs of living in each location and make a rough estimate of your overall budget. This will save you from a few surprises down the road. Lastly, be sure to consider the cultural diversity of your destination. This will help you understand the customs and practices of those who live there, making it easier to interact with them.
2. Pack Light
One of the most important principles of sustainable travel is to leave every place you visit better than how you found it. This goes for natural environments and cities alike. Ensure that you don’t leave any trash behind when exploring the wilderness or local parks, and pick up any waste that others have left behind.
Additionally, if you’re traveling by plane, consider purchasing carbon offsets through programs like Atmosfair or CarboTax. Additionally, you can avoid printed tickets altogether by booking your flights and trip activities online.
Lastly, pack light by packing only what you need. Assemble an eco friendly travel kit with a refillable stainless steel water bottle (bonus: Tree Tribe bottles plant a tree for every one purchased), reusable bamboo cutlery and leakproof food containers, and natural beauty products.
3. Air Travel
Travel is a pleasure, but it can also have a negative impact on the environment. It’s important to leave no trace when traveling and make eco-friendly choices wherever you go.
Flying is a major culprit of air pollution. It has even led to the creation of a Swedish phrase, flygskam (“flight shame”), for travelers who feel guilt over their airline choice.
To limit the effect of your flight, choose an environmentally friendly airline and offset carbon emissions. Many airlines offer this option, as do flight booking sites. Additionally, train travel is enjoying a resurgence and may reduce your environmental footprint.
4. Electric Devices
Traveling more sustainably involves making conscious choices that respect our planet. This includes supporting the local economy, preserving natural landscapes, and avoiding activities that harm or exploit animals and people.
Air travel is a major contributor to carbon emissions, so opting for trains or buses when possible will help to reduce them. If flying is unavoidable, consider using carbon offset programs that help compensate for your travel’s impact by funding renewable energy and tree planting initiatives.
If you’re traveling outdoors, follow the Leave No Trace principles to protect your surroundings. This includes properly disposing of waste, leaving flora and fauna alone, and staying on designated trails.
Traveling sustainably is critical for human health, as well as the future of our planet. Whether you’re a casual traveler or full-time nomad, there are many ways to reduce your environmental impact.
For example, pre-shop for zero waste products and reusable items like a water bottle with a built-in filter or a sustainable suitcase. Look for eco-conscious accommodations that prioritize sustainability with flow-restricted showerheads, energy efficient lighting and linen programs to reduce waste.
Additionally, be mindful of companies that are “greenwashing,” meaning they tout their environmentally friendly practices without actual proof. Be wary of attractions that promote animal-centered activities, such as zoos or wildlife shows.
6. Reduce Your Waste
Every year, tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean, disrupting ecosystems and endangering marine wildlife. Minimize your waste by bringing a reusable water bottle, using public transportation (buses and trains excel in energy efficiency), and only purchasing items with a biodegradable option. Another way to minimize your waste is by leaving natural and wilderness areas better than you found them, including picking up any trash you see.
Look for restaurants and hotels that recycle, compost and use eco-friendly towels and linens. Also, encourage them to do even more by communicating that green travel is important to you.
7. Ethical Wildlife Encounters
Plan your trip accordingly so that you minimize your impact on wildlife. For example, take the train instead of flying to save on air travel emissions. Also, eat local foods to reduce the need for food to be transported long distances from big cities.
Viewing animals in their natural habitat is the best way to enjoy an ethical animal encounter. Avoid attractions that involve petting animals, riding them or putting them in shows.
Also, avoid any venues that sell souvenirs made from wild animals or their parts. Look for outlets that offer rehabilitation and rehabilitation to ensure that the animals will be released back into the wild.