We love to travel. Almost every one of us has a bucket list filled with places we want to visit someday.
Yet, we face the painful realization that traveling (along with some other human actions) is a primary cause of climate change.
Yes! Traveling comes at an expensive cost to our environment.
If you care about the environment, you are probably thinking your traveling adventures are over. Goodbye summer vacations and spring break in Europe.
But don’t give up just yet.
You do not have to quit traveling, you just have to find a way to make it sustainable.
And, contrary to a lot of misconceptions, a sustainable lifestyle does not translate to a boring one.
So how do we make traveling sustainable?
We have put together a list of things you can do to help you travel the world without leaving a huge carbon footprint.
How Can We Travel Sustainably?
According to the UNWTO, an estimated 1.2 billion people travel internationally every year. Presently, the tourism industry accounts for 10.2% of our global GDP, with a $7 trillion annual yield.
While it is essential to understand the impact of traveling on our environment, it is another thing to start making changes.
Fortunately, we can do some things to reduce our environmental impact without compromising our love for adventure.
Wanna discover them?
Here is our list of sustainable travel tips, tricks, and hacks to help you travel the world carbon guilt-free:
Preparing for your trip.
The sustainable actions you take while traveling start as decisions you make even before you start your journey.
These decisions will help you significantly reduce your carbon footprint without actually doing much:
1. Travel with a flask or reusable cup:
You would agree that the start of every great trip begins with packing your bags at home, yeah?
Well, consider packing a reusable cup or flask along with all your fly vacation outfits.
You’re gonna get thirsty when you travel. You know that for sure. And if you love coffee as much as we do, you’re gonna want to taste the creamy goodness of the particular city you are visiting.
So why not prepare ahead of time by having a reusable cup or flask with you?
This will help you avoid having to resort to disposable plastic and paper cups. They aren’t good for the environment. Many local communities complain that tourists leave them with so much trash to deal with.
So consider it a good deed to both the locals of the community and planet earth every time you turn down a disposable cup.
And you can only turn down disposables if you packed alternatives. Depending on your preference for comfort, you could go with either choice. But our customers have attested to the fact that reusable, collapsible cups are more convenient to move around with.
2. Try not to travel too far:
The farther your destination is, the larger your carbon footprint will be.
Not particular about any destination yet? Pick somewhere close to you. You may be surprised how much fun you can have within your own country or a nearby one.
Go to the beach with your friends/family; visit a museum and learn some interesting things about the city you think you know so well; and find unexplored corners within your municipality.
Your home is someone else's tourist location.
3. Find sustainable Destinations:
If you are keen on traveling far to discover new places and experiences, then consider countries that are sustainability conscious. Countries like Slovenia and Finland have been recognized as some of the best places to travel sustainably.
Visiting any of those countries, you will find excellent systems and programs to ensure a great travel experience at no cost to the
4. Hire a Sustainable Travel Agent:
What if the destination I want to visit isn't the most eco-friendly?
Worry less and let a travel agent plan the course of your adventure.
Companies like Lokal connect you with locals of your destination, who can show you where to go and eco-friendly activities to engage in.
5. Book with Eco-friendly hotels:
Now that you have settled on your destination, it is time to pick an eco-friendly accommodation to stay in. Websites like bookdifferent.com calculate your carbon footprint per night based on your selection and include eco-friendly ratings. Be encouraged to choose an accommodation that injects money back into the local economy.
Shopping during your trip.
Everything that ends up in a landfill or ocean was once on a stand in the market. We have included sustainable actions that help reduce your carbon footprint and give back to the community while shopping:
6. Purchase Local Produce only:
One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint in a new country is to purchase mainly locally made goods. By doing this, you will:
Save a ton of money from avoiding imported goods:
Imported goods (especially food items) are more expensive than locally grown food items.
South Korea is a good example of this.
In South Korea, bananas sell for $3.25 - $3.50 per kilogram because they are imported from Ecuador (where they sell for $0.65 per kg). But you can find locally grown fruits in South Korea at a far cheaper rate.
Reduce your carbon footprint and stay healthy:
Considering the distance it took to be imported, purchasing an imported fruit or food item will significantly increase your carbon footprint.
Secondly, locally grown foods, especially fruits, are bound to be fresher than imported ones.
For instance, South Korea imports bananas from faraway Ecuador.
You do not need a soothsayer to tell you the locally grown fruits will be fresher.
So when visiting the supermarkets in a foreign country, look out for local produces.
After all, the essence of tourism is to experience the lifestyle of people from another part of the world. Buying indigenous produce from the locals will get you closer to them and improve their local economy.
7. Say No to Plastic Bags:
Plastic bags are so convenient for shopping. You simply roll one out, put your purchased goods into it and head back to your accommodation. Easy Peezy!
But what happens after that?
What do we do with plastic bags?
We throw it away.
Most of us have realized that plastic bags are up there with disposable cups as primary agents of plastic pollution.
Instead of a plastic bag, you can purchase your items in a reusable bag. This way, you won't subject the locals of that destination to environmental pollution.
What if plastic use is unavoidable?
Find out where you can recycle from your hotel or anyone familiar with that city.
Find Sustainable Means to Commute.
The global transport sector is a dominant polluter and was responsible for approximately 7.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020.
Hence, finding a sustainable means to commute is essential:
8. Travel By Train:
Among all forms of modern transportation, trains emit the least amount of greenhouse gases.
So if you have a long-distance to cover, trains are a great option to consider. Plus, you get a chance to slow travel, taking in the beautiful landscapes in the country.
9. Walk or cycle when you can:
Trains emit the least amount of greenhouse gases, right?
How about no carbon emissions at all?
In some European countries like Slovenia, walking and cycling are encouraged within the city center.
If you need to get somewhere not too far away, consider walking instead of calling an Uber or driving there.
Plus, you get to increase your step count and win prizes on some rewarding trek apps.
10. Share your Car:
If you are traveling with family or some friends, carpooling is a fantastic option. Many eco-conscious travelers do it to offset their carbon footprint.
Four people vibing together in a car is much better than four separate cars emitting CO2.
Just make sure you are all COVID-free.
While at the Hotel.
If you plan to lodge at a hotel, please do the following:
11. Dry your hotel towels to keep them clean:
This may sound ridiculous, but it goes a long way to reduce the presence of plastic in our oceans.
Whenever clothes are washed, bits of plastic material come out of them. And these bits eventually end up in our oceans via the sewage system.
So choose to hang the towels at your hotel instead of drycleaning them every day. The one million species of ocean inhabitants would thank you for it, and you would be reducing water waste.
12. Have your own toiletries:
Most people spend an average of 3 nights at a hotel. After their departure, hotels dispose of the toiletries each occupant used during their stay. Things like toothbrushes, shampoo bottles, bathing gel bottles, etc.
Going with your own toiletries will reduce the disposal of single-use hotel toiletries.
13. Reduce your Electric power consumption:
Except for countries like Finland, most countries depend on fossil fuels to produce their electricity.
This means the more power you consume, the more CO2 you emit.
So do your best to turn off the lights, sockets, and other appliances when you are not using them.
At NIMAL, we constantly find new ways to help you live a sustainable life at no cost to your convenience and happiness.
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15% of the world’s population travels annually, and we are guessing not every one of us is doing it sustainably.
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