But what does “Green Travel” even mean? How do you do it? Do you have to sleep in a tent and cook on a solar-powered camp stove in order to be considered eco-friendly?
The truth is that sustainable travel (a.k.a. ecotourism) is all about making simple choices in order to lessen your negative impact on a given destination.
Individually, each one of these choices makes only a small difference in the big picture. But collectively, becoming more conscious about these little things can have a huge cumulative impact.
So here’s an in-depth look at what Green Travel is, why it matters, and an extensive array of easy tips designed to help you travel more responsibly and sustainably.
We cannot control the carbon emissions of the planes we fly in, the chemicals used by the hotels in which we stay, or the plastics used in the souvenirs sold in the destinations we visit. But we can choose more eco-friendly transportation, hotels, tour operators, and shopping tactics that do less damage to the environment, and create more benefits for local people.
According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, nearly two-thirds of all travellers are increasingly inclined to make more environmentally sound choices and travel green.
GREEN TRANSPORTATION TIPS
- Try to book non-stop flights whenever you can: It’s the take offs and landings that create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions.
- If you’re traveling with family or friends and the destination is within driving distance, perhaps you should consider taking road trip. But if you’re traveling by yourself, it’s actually much eco-friendlier to fly
- If you do fly, consider doing so with one of the 30+ IATA (International Air Transport Association) member airlines who offer carbon off set to neutralise the aircraft’s carbon emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects.
- If you decide to drive to your destination and your car isn’t eco-friendly, consider renting a hybrid or electric vehicle, which use less fuel and produce less carbon emissions than gas-guzzlers.
- If you have the time, traveling via bus, train, or ship generally has less negative environmental impact than traveling by plane.
- Ask if the hotel has a recycling program. If not, encourage them to start one when you leave suggestions on comments cards at check-out
- Ask questions about the hotel’s sustainability initiatives, such as solar power, wind turbines, rainwater harvesting, energy-efficient lighting, and low-flow toilets.
WATER-SAVING TRAVEL TIPS
- Take a BPA-free water bottle you can refill over and over again. Many international airports have free water dispensers, which saves you money and wasting plastic bottles.
- Try to take shorter showers, turning the water off while you lather up, shampoo, shave, and/or brush your teeth
- Hang up your towels after each use
- When you leave your room, always turn off all lights, heat/AC, and television.
- Leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door of your room for the duration of your stay. This cuts down on chemical cleansing agents, electricity used in vacuuming, and the washing of bed linens.
- Walk, bike, or use public transportation to get around whenever possible, which cuts down on gas usage and saves you money.
GREEN SHOPPING TIPS
- Buy locally made (preferably handmade) products, rather than those that have been imported.
- Take your own reusable bag when you go shopping.
- remove any plastic from the product before leaving the shop