Tips for traveling responsibly as the world begins to open up again

When we travel it’s important to be respectful of the environment

When we travel it’s important to be respectful of the environment

 

The beginning of the end of COVID travel restrictions are here, and we are dreaming of our next trips. Whether it’s flying or by train, on the road in cars or bikes, this is clearly a crucial time to rethink travel – hit the road, by all means, take to the air or waterways, but remember, travel thoughtfully.

 Tourism is one of the most polluting industries in the world with serious consequences to natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems.

The idea of sustainable tourism has become a popular response to the devastating impacts of travel and the tourism industry. Sustainable tourism allows for adventurous journeys while reducing long term social, economic, natural and cultural impacts. Many people are backing the idea of sustainable tourism, especially post-quarantine; several magazines, like Ecomadic, are great resources of vital importance.

Also consider going local and camping. And if you do that consider investing in secondhand camping gear.

What follows are the No Kill 5 tips to decrease your environmental impact while traveling.

1.     Research the most efficient and sustainable mode of transportation.
In general air travel has serious environmental impacts through noise and atmosphere pollution. Some airlines offer low-carbon and fuel-efficient flights; airlines such as American and JetBlue invest and use renewable biofuels which are said to decrease your carbon footprint. Alternatively, if there are other transportation options, like a bus, train or boat, take them; these options are much less harmful to the environment. But try to avoid cruise ships, as they are not sustainable and bring little benefit to local communities.

2.     Stay at ethical and sustainable hotels.
Whether you choose a hostel or a five-star hotel, be conscious of their eco-friendly initiatives and sustainable practices plus there are a few things you can do to help.

First, hang up your towels (if they are not too dirty). Hanging up towels is the universal sign that you’re okay with reusing them; it’s a very easy way to conserve water. Also, if you have space in your bag try to bring your own toiletries. The little hotel shampoos may be cute, but they are extremely harmful to the environment. And finally, don’t have your room cleaned daily. Put the ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door in order to avoid extra water, electricity and chemical usage.

A local food stall filled with exquisite treats in Barcelona

A local food stall filled with exquisite treats in Barcelona

3. Support LOCALS
Unfortunately, a lot of the money from the tourism industry ends up in the hands of international corporations instead of the local community, who truly need and deserve it. When you are traveling, frequenting locally owned hotels, restaurants, stores, tours, etc., instead of big chains can increase social sustainability. Not only are you supporting the community and contributing to their economy, but you are also getting a more authentic experience!

4.  Pack with the environment in mind!
The lighter you pack, the less fuel the plane uses. If possible, it’s best to just bring a carry on. Packing is always difficult but try to resist the urge to pack three different outfits for each day because, chances are, you will not wear all of them.

Additionally, packing zero waste items, like reusable water bottles, bags, travel mugs and more can reduce the amount of single use plastic used and discarded during travel. In countries where the drinking water is safe, a reusable water botte dramatically cuts down plastic waste. On the other hand, if the drinking water is not-so safe, make sure to recycle the plastic water bottle whenever its possible!

 Also make sure to check out our article on the most sustainable options for luggage.

5.  Offset your carbon footprint.
A carbon offset is a way to compensate for your carbon footprint (the amount of carbon emitted by a particular person) by saving your carbon dioxide emissions somewhere else. Carbon offsetting is great because it is a low-effort and cost-efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A lot of airlines offer carbon offsetting when you book your ticket!

For a small extra charge, the airline will donate the money to sustainable projects like tree planting and just like that your emissions are compensated for. There are also many different companies that specialize in carbon offsetting and offer it for a low price.

Everyone should look into carbon offsetting options, especially when travelling.

Definitely keep these tips in mind when planning your next vacation in order to have a fun, safe AND sustainable trip.

 –Carolina McCormick