Green Travel Tips (Or – How To Travel Guilt-Free)
If you are anything like me, you’ll just love traveling to far off places and seeing our wonderful world. I have to confess, I have never been very conscious of our planet in the past. This isn’t to say I have been irresponsible, littering and using an abundance of plastic bottles carelessly, but when I have traveled in the past I didn’t plan my trips from an eco-friendly standpoint. Lately, however, I have been more educating myself more on our world and our climate. Whether it be through TED talks, celebrities, even the rapidly growing VSCO girl trend, people are starting to pay closer attention to our environment now than ever before. The reality is this, our warming planet is a crisis that just isn’t going to go away. We have to change our ways – and fast.
So how can we travel without contributing to the problem? How can we have adventures without damaging this amazing planet we call home? Can we really see the world without risking it, and our own future? Here are ten green travel tips to help you do just that. They should help you travel sustainably, so you can let the travel bug bite guilt-free.
Travel Less, Travel Better
“Carly, you are a travel agent who has a passion for travel, what do you mean by travel less?!”
I know, I know. I would NEVER hinder anyone’s desire and passion for travel! I’m referring to the travel in our own daily lives. We can definitely go greener by cutting down our daily mileage and going green when it comes to our commute, our shopping trips, and our random excursions. To go greener, we can travel less – but when we do travel, we can travel better. I don’t often consider the impact of my travels when it comes to my daily errands because let’s face it, they are boring and mundane, but I am striving to make more of an effort so each trip I do take is as green as possible.
Explore Your Own Backyard
One key thing to remember when planning your trips is that further away does not necessarily mean better. More exciting at times? Absolutely! Who doesn’t love the thought of a beach when you live in a desert or the thought of renting a convertible when you are shoveling snow? We all deserve an escape from our daily scenery. With the fantasies of foreign lands running through our minds, we often neglect to think about the really neat destinations that are closer to home. We jet off across the world when we can have an equally amazing time within a few hours from where we live. It just takes some research and a little imagination!
Get There in as Green a Way as Possible
Of course, sometimes, we really will want to go further away. And we can! Going green does not always have to involve not going at all. It can also involve making better choices about our destinations and how we get there. Flying is far more damaging than other forms of transport. So consider taking a train or even a boat instead if it’s realistic. If you take the car, consider a carpool with other individuals you may know looking to venture to the same location. You could also consider hiring an electric vehicle for your trip. Hey, as an added perk, they are also cheaper to operate!
If you’re not going too far, slow travel solutions like cycling, hiking, kayaking or sailing are all excellent green travel solutions. These are the best choices of all because you get to be a part of the outdoors and truly take in your surroundings!
Choose Unusual Places
Another idea you can implement to cut down on your impact is to get off the beaten track. The more people visit a vacation destination, the more that can take its toll on local environments and local communities. Head off into wild and unspoiled places to see the natural world at its best. And if you are visiting a city or town, or another popular spot – try to go for less well-known locations there, rather than making a bee-line for tourist hotspots. You will usually find these spots to be more intriguing and more affordable than a particularly populated and crowded environment, and may even make some far better memories than you would have otherwise.
Choose Accommodation as Eco As You Are
Where you stay while you are away has a big impact on how green your adventure will be. From luxury hotels to back-to-basics camping trips – try to make sure that the accommodation you choose is as green, eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. Think about how energy, water, and other resources are used. Consider how they handle waste and how they impact people and the environment. Look out for eco logos and check out green credentials to find the perfect sustainable stay.
Go Green When It Comes To What You Eat While Away
Your vacation diet won’t just impact your waistline. (Been there! No regrets!) It can impact our planet too. When you are away, just as when you are home, try to make green choices when it comes to what you eat. Whether you are eating out or self-catering, try to choose fresh, local, seasonal organic ingredients whenever possible. And consider eating less meat, or choosing vegetarian or vegan options to lower your carbon footprint. I personally would be lying to you if I said I always opt for vegetarian options, I love a good steak, but I try to implement both culinary options into my diet.
Aim For a Zero Waste Stay
From before they leave to when they get home, a green traveler should always try to minimize waste in all its forms. We can take small steps to avoid wasting energy, water or food. We can also reduce plastic use. For example, we can take our own refillable bottles, (shout out to HydraFlasks,) bags, and pack Tupperware on our trips. We can also pack plastic-free items, like bamboo toothbrushes and more. Wherever we go, we can follow the five ‘R’s – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle.
Choose Green Things To Do
Do you remember the green transportation we mentioned earlier? Well, those slow travel solutions are also great options for activities while you’re there! Rather than driving around, or heading for tourist hotspots, take a hike, cycle, head out on the water under your own steam… take pleasure in all the awe-inspiring nature around you and get out there to explore it in the lowest impact ways possible. Beauty can be found everywhere!
Be Careful What You Buy
We all like to buy the odd souvenir when we travel. I get it. I still have a rubber chicken and shrunken head keychain from back in the day, but what you buy can have a huge impact, and that impact is not always positive. Rather than buying plastic tat and mass-produced items, try to find green souvenirs hand-made by local people. By supporting the local community, you can help them go greener and take care of the environment where they live. It’s also a way to show you value their town, who they are, and support what they do.
Share Your Green Experiences When You Get Home
Finally, after your green travel adventure – don’t keep the experience to yourself. By sharing your eco-friendly trip with others, you can inspire them to make the right choices for people and the planet. This is just one more way that you can avoid being part of the problems we face and become part of the solution.
Travel can be a wonderful thing. It can open our eyes to the beauty and fragility of our planet. It can connect us with other like-minded individuals around the world. But by making the right choices, we can limit our negative impact and keep all our travel experiences as positive as possible – and completely guilt-free.