It’s already been a year and a half since travel plans (and planes) ground to a halt. But over the past few months, the tourism industry has shown signs of recovery. Traveler confidence is increasing as countries reopen their borders and race to vaccinate the vast majority of their population.
However, there’s no denying that the post-pandemic traveler has changed one way or another. Experts predict that wellness trips focused on healing and health will become more popular. Another key trend to anticipate is the growing interest in sustainable travel.
If you’ve been finally drawing up travel plans lately and want to do it more sustainably moving forward, here are simple measures you can take:
1. Take advantage of public transportation
Many travelers choose private car rentals to get around a place as it gives them more freedom and flexibility, but it’s the planet that pays the price. A greener alternative is to use public transportation, especially when you’re traveling long distances. Tourist hotspots like Japan, Singapore, Madrid, Santiago, Dubai, Berlin, and Taipei have highly efficient public transport systems, making them the ideal way to get around. For remote locations, consider biking, taking the bus, or hiring a tuk-tuk instead, as these are generally better than private cars.
2. Bring your own utensils
When you’re traveling, you’ll have little time to prepare your own meals. It’s more likely that you’ll eat in a restaurant, get street food or takeout, or eat while in transit. If you don’t pay attention, you could end up consuming plenty of single-use utensils and food containers. It would be best to bring your own utensils like eco-friendly and biodegradable bamboo utensils and metal straws. You can also bring your own portable water bottles and food containers so you’ll be able to refuse single-use plastics.
3. Stay in eco accommodations
The hotel industry sends tonnes of trash to landfills every year. If you want your whole trip to align with your principles, consider staying in eco-friendly accommodations instead. Your options are endless, ranging from private villas to expansive resorts. These hotels employ strategies and infrastructure like renewable energy, waste management, and water conservation to make your stay less harmful to the environment. To find the best accommodation for you, use resources like Green Key, Ecobnb, Bee&Hive, Eco Hotels, and Book Different.
4. Use reusable toiletry bottles
When you’re traveling light, you opt for toiletries packed in smaller bottles and sachets. This means that if you travel a lot, you’ll have contributed piles of non-biodegradable trash in your lifetime. Make the greener choice by buying high-quality reusable toiletry bottles instead. Instead of using the free toothbrush in your hotel, bring your own eco-friendly toothbrush. These small and seemingly inconsequential choices can make a world of difference for the environment.
5. Consider alternative means of transport
International trips may still be hard to come by, but in the next three or so months, the travel industry could be in full swing. But that would also mean that planes will start operating again at bargain deals, and air travel is considered a big polluter. To lower your footprint, explore other ways to get to your destination, like trains, which emit the lowest levels of greenhouse gases.
When getting around a locale, opt for eco-friendly means like biking, sailing, hiring electric cars, or good old walking. But if it’s unavoidable to fly, opt for airlines that sustainability seriously like United Airlines and Etihad. These airlines have pledged to develop eco-friendly initiatives and set ambitious goals to become 100 percent green by 2050.
6. Become a responsible tourist
The golden rule of travel is to respect the destination, its people and customs, its religions, and its environment. Even if the destination seems like there are no sustainability policies in place, lead by example and influence people you come across. Herd mentality can be powerful, and if people see trash on the street, they will throw their trash there. Instead, leave a destination as if you weren’t there. That is the essence of sustainable travel.
7. Travel longer and slower
Most tourists opt for jam-packed itineraries to make the most of the trip. And this is unavoidable if you’re only there for a limited time. A full itinerary would require you to choose the most convenient options, from your transportation and stay to the food you eat.
Plus, your likelihood of making poor choices would be high when you’re rushing. Immerse in the destination and make conscious choices by spending more time in a destination and taking it slow. Limit your daily itinerary to one or two activities per day. Not only is it a greener choice, but it also lets you enjoy the place better and collect more meaningful experiences.
The climate crisis is accelerating, and it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that future generations experience the most amazing places on earth.