Have you ever thought about the environmental impact travel has on this planet? If you have but are still a wanderlust at heart, no worries. We are sharing our tops tips for eco friendly travel so you can explore the world without compromising your values.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to travel the world. After getting my first dose of Europe at 16 I new I would be jet setting my whole life, and I have been lucky enough to already do my fair share.
It wasn’t until recently though that I started to think about the affect the tourism industry has on our environment and local communities.
I do believe that tourists bring in a ton of business to some destinations that might otherwise be struggling, but I also began to think about the carbon foot print left behind.
For example, have you ever gone to a “tourist trap” to find streets lined with liter or those heart breaking videos of kids surfing on turtles backs? (Yeah, my heart still aches from that).
Not to mention the other millions of ways animals and the environment are exploited for human enjoyment.
So, I got to thinking, was it even possible to be a conscious traveller? Were there ways I could reduce my negative impact? Luckily, there is.
1) Research your Destination Options
There are some places that are going to be more eco friendly than others. In my mind, I would rather support those places that align with my core values versus ones that don’t.
Topics I tend to search for are local vegan restaurants, state parks nearby, communities commitment to recycling, and what there is TO DO there, versus just TO BUY there. Keeping these things in mind will set you up for a more sustainable stay before you even step foot out the door.
2) Pack Smart
Be prepared for your journey. For me this means everything from having extra layers of clothes to bring my zero waste travel essentials.
This includes items such as a reusable shopping bag, water bottle and toiletries. (Read the full post HERE).
Packing the right clothes prevents you from having to by an overpriced sweater from a fast fashion store because you are freezing (why no, this has never happened to me!).
3) Pick the Right Transportation
Typically I love airports, so I love flying, but my husband and I will drive to our destination if we can. This is definitely the way to go if you have a large group going.
If flying is a must (btw if you are traveling by yourself, flying is typically better) chose non stop flights and and airline that has green initiatives. Many airlines today have carbon offset programs to help reduce their impact on the earth.
If you can use public transportation that option is of course always best. Buses, trains, etc are a great way to reduce your footprint.
4) Choose a Green Hotel
While traveling in the US check if the hotel has LEED Certification. With international travel here are a couple organizations: EarthCheck (Australia), Rainforest Alliance (South America) and Green Tourism (UK).
Other things to look into is if the hotel uses local resources. Using local farmers for their produce and local companies for building, decor, etc show they are dedicated to support the local community. Using local supplies also reduces the transportation impact you would typically get from shipping these items.
5) Shop Local
While we’re talking about it, make sure to support local business owners while traveling. Avoid going to tacky tourist souvenir shops and instead pick up a handmade scarf from a local boutique. You can also avoid chain restaurants (hello….there is a Hard Rock Cafe in every major city…) and instead dine at locally owned restaurants.
This way you are not only buying a more sustainable item/ meal but you are supporting local businesses instead of big box chains.
6) Avoid Animal Exploitation
Oh this is a sour topic for me, because in my eye it is one of the MOST important things. Please, please, please do not support zoos, aquariums or other means of animal suffering.
I cringe every time I see a photo of someone “swimming with the dolphins.” No offense, but I guarantee the dolphins do NOT want to swim with you.
Instead support local sanctuaries or rehabilitation centers. These are the good guys. You can still take your kiddos to see some cute local animals, but this way they learn about the importance of preserving our wildlife instead of riding around on a camel’s back.
7) Be a Traveller, not a Tourist
Lastly, I will just remind you to be conscious of the environment in which you are visiting. Adhere to local customs, at least try to learn bits of their language, be courteous.
If you immerse yourself in the true culture of the city/ country I can guarantee you will have a much more fulfilling experience.
Happy green traveling my friends.