Eco-Travel: 10 Ways to Travel More Sustainably

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“No Matter Where You Go, There You Are”

 ~Buckaroo Banzai

Note: This post is meant to be evergreen content and not controversial.  When traveling please respect the health and safety guidelines of the local country you are visiting.

What is Eco-Travel?

Eco-travel is a way for those who have an adventurous spirit but want to care for the environment pursuing their dream. It's about getting up close with nature while also respecting it at the same time. Protecting your surroundings is as essential as protecting yourself!

Eco-travelers will often visit destinations that are already overrun by tourists, who can sometimes cause environments to be destroyed completely in their wake. Eco travel preserves natural resources and where travelers get help from locals on how best they should behave when exploring sensitive habitats or wildlife reserves around them - all of this done responsibly so our future generations might enjoy these places just the same we do today

Pent-Up Demand

The world is ready to start traveling again. Travelers are anxious and excited for the opportunity to see new places, reconnect with loved ones, and make new memories in an unfamiliar place! Two out of three Americans plan on taking a trip following the pandemic according to a survey by Hilton hotels.

Pre-pandemic, travel was taking a significant toll on beautiful destinations around the world. Now that tourism is rebounding and more people are traveling than ever before, it's important to remember how you can lessen your environmental footprint while enhancing the local experience for both yourself and others along with it.

Travelers have an opportunity in this new age of globalization: they can minimize their own environmental impact by minimizing distances travelled from home base; opting out of overbooked flights or accepting shared accommodations where possible - reserving one’s place exclusively as opposed to joining several other travelers no longer means spending hours at airports waiting outside long check lines but instead enjoying time spent close enough that we may be able not only protect our environment but also expand opportunities.

Image Courtesy of Panini Ridichio

Why is Eco-Travel Important?

Barreling up to the pandemic of 2020 more people were travelling than ever before and according to Us Travel Association in 2017 1.3 billion people travelled the world which is the equivalent to the most populated country on the planet, China. Over a billion people trekking about our planet every year has both adverse and positive effects on our environment.

In 2017 1.3 billion people travelled the world which is the equivalent to the most populated country on the planet, China. 

As the world becomes more globalized, people are now having access to a broader range of cultures. While this is great for the experience and interaction with other regions around them, it has also allowed certain areas that have been tourist destinations before to become over-tourist due to their popularity amongst travelers. The negatives include overcrowding in popular places like Venice or Barcelona where tourists can no longer find authentic experiences - they're all but overtaken by attractions set up specifically for visitors' enjoyment rather than locals.

One positive aspect of tourism that many overlook is how beneficial it may be on local economies when not too much attention goes towards these developing nations as well as providing opportunities for those who live below poverty line

The 10 Cities with the most international visitors in millions:
  • Bangkok, Thailand: 22.78
  • Paris, France: 19.10
  • London, United Kingdom: 19.09
  • Dubai United Arab Emirates: 15.93
  • Singapore, The Republic of Singapore: 14.67
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 13.79
  • New York, United States of America: 13.60
  • Istanbul, Turkey: 13.40
  • Tokyo, Japan: 12.93
  • Antalya, Turkey: 12.41

Numbers from: Mastercard Newsroom.

10 Ways to Travel More Sustainably

1. Use Your Reusable Resources

When travelling keep any eye open for the nearest water station in airports and hotesl where you can fill up your reusable bottle for free.  Not only will you save money, but with the help of this resourceful initiative, you'll also be helping to preserve the environment by reducing one more thing that is contributing to climate change.

Reusable bags can reduce single-use plastic waste from takeout food orders to shopping trips, don’t be afraid to use them. Sustainable utensils and straws are another way we all can contribute toward being environmentally conscious consumers so it its reusable at home its reusable on the road.

2. Go Mobile

Contactless experiences are becoming more popular, as they make customer interactions easier and faster. As an example, now with the Hilton Honors app for your smartphone you can book a room from anywhere in just seconds. Once at the hotel, all guests have to do is simply open their phone when checking-in electronically or scanning an access card upon arrival!

Contactless experiences are gaining popularity because of how easy it makes customers' lives by making transactions quick and effortless. It allows everyone to book rooms on his/her own time while being able to get them whenever he/she wants without having any problems that may arise during check-out times like forgetting one's credit card information or not bringing enough cash for incidentals expenses.

The new contactless checkout technology at hotels is easy and convenient, it eliminates the need for you to carry around a physical room key. The receipt goes straight to your phone as soon as you make an purchase, making this perfect for those on-the-go travelers that don't have time to stop by their hotel's front desk before they leave!

The newest innovation in convenience: wireless checkouts with no waste involved - what could be more efficient?

3. Look for Places to Recycle Your Waste

Recycling is a great way to help the environment. If you see trash somewhere, don't just dump it on top of the pile! Check if there's recycling nearby and be sure not to put your waste in an incorrect receptacle; every item helps prevent more from entering our oceans or landfills so make sure it goes into its designated area.

Check out my other post on how you can reduce your plastic consumption.

4. Buy Local and Shop Small

There are many ways to get a more authentic sense of the city you're visiting by engaging with local businesses.

Image Courtesy of bananas Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke

Hiring locals for tours, buying food from small family-owned restaurants, shopping at locally owned stores and farmers markets can all help make your stay feel like less of an outsider experience. If you want some recommendations on where to start, ask any hotel staff member - they are likely someone who has lived nearby their entire life!

5. Choosing Green Activities

The Earth-friendly options are numerous. Coastlines waiting to be explored by those interested in aquatic activities such as sailing, snorkeling, paddle boating, kayaking, swimming and scuba diving or on land with a hike or bird watching through unspoiled natural beauty. Local craft markets offer opportunities for shopping while supporting local artists and food sellers that often use locally sourced ingredients where possible which helps preserve both culture and environment. Tours employ guides who share their knowledge about history, customs, wildlife habitats - all created from an authentic experience you won't find anywhere else!

6. Choose Alternative Modes of Transportation

When you're traveling, it's important to consider how your transportation will contribute to You can take steps to reduce your carbon footprint from transportation, such as taking a direct flight or renting an electric vehicle. When you arrive, consider using alternative modes of transportation such as walking, cycling or public transportation to explore your destination. You can reduce emissions by taking a direct flight or renting an electric vehicle when possible

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Many hotels offer complimentary bikes to explore what hidden gems the city has to offer, or hotel staff can recommend local walking and running routes - providing a fun perspective for experiencing a new location.

7. Green Eating

Most people love to eat their way through a trip. Experiencing another cultures food is a great way to connect with the local experience and make a great destination even better.

The problem is that not all destinations raise, harvest and prepare the food in a eco-friendly kind of way.

A great source to help you find sustainably caught seafood is World Wildlife Fund’s SASSI list. Its easy to use, you simply search for any seafood, and it will tell you eco-friendly choice.

8. Eco-Friendly Travel Products

With a little careful planning you can keep your footprint small by packing the right items. Here are just a few high-quality products that reduce waste and make travel easier:

Image Courtesy of Eartheasy

Pack a few Reusable Produce Bags for when you shop locally

Image Courtesy of Eartheasy

If you’re a straw kind of person include a pack a reusable bamboo straws

Image Courtesy of The Bamboo Toothbrush

Keep your choppers white and the planet green by using a bamboo toothbrush

Image Courtesy of Swell

Be sure to take your eco-friendly water bottle

Image Courtesy of The Ultimate Green Store

Keep your skin safe by applying a reef-safe sunscreen.

Image Courtesy of Etsy

 Say goodbye to plastic by using shampoo and conditioner bars

Image Courtesy of Lume

Perfect for travelling; biodegradable deodorant wipes    

9. Choosing a Green Airline

Flying is one of the most environmentally damaging ways to travel. Aside from the obvious carbon footprint, there are also a ton of resources that go into making each flight happen - fuel and cups for on-board drinks, as well as food waste when you're in flight! The worst part? All these emissions continue to rise with more people flying than ever before.

With all the airlines floating around out there, it's hard to decide which ones will be worth your time. Some people believe that one airline is always more environmentally friendly than another - but this isn't true at all. There are plenty of factors involved with choosing an airline:

  • What is the age of the plane? Newer aircraft have reduced drag and use less fuel.
  • Aircraft type? Some types of planes use renewable fuels.
  • The distance you are travelling.
  • The Number of passengers, less passengers equals less weight therefore less fuel is consumed.
  • How environmentally friendly are their dining options? Think vegetarian.
  • Does the airline use compostable or biodegradable packaging for their meals?
  • Does the airline recycle their used pillows, blankets, and uniforms?

Most people think that the most eco-friendly airlines are larger, established carriers with big name recognition. However, according to a recent study by atmosfair Airline Index, smaller regional airlines outperformed large national and international carriers on many of their environmental policies like high capacity seating. In fact, some lesser-known companies ranked higher than popular brands.

Although these airlines may not be based out of north America, they are worth looking for once you are closer to your destination. According to atmosfair the seven most eco-friendly airlines are:

1. TUI Airways

TUI Airways scored an impressive 79.3 efficiency rating. Planes have dense seating.

2. LATAM Airlines Brasil

An efficiency rating of 78.8 – They have a reputation for using efficient aircraft.

3. China West Air

An efficiency rating of 77.8 -  A regional Chinese airline - only short and medium distance routes. Dense seating and high occupancy levels.

4. TUIfly

An efficiency rating of 77.6 - A German leisure airline owned by the TUI Group.

5. Transavia France

An efficiency rating of 76.3. - A French low-cost airline owned by Air France.

6. SunExpress: An efficiency rating of  74.9 -  A Turkish-German airline based in Antalya.

7. Air Europa Express

An efficiency rating of  73.4  - A Spanish regional low-cost airline.

10. How to Choose an Earth Friendly Accommodations

An eco-accommodation is not only an environmentally friendly option, it also comes with a variety of styles and budgets for the worldwide traveler.

Whether you are looking to stay in remote lodges or luxury resorts abroad, there’s something perfect for every budget that won’t contribute any further damage to our environment!

Things to Consider:
  • Do the lodge/hotel practice policies that employ local residents and promote green living in the community?
  • Does the site take any steps to protect the environment and wildlife?
  • How is the site designed? What kind of materials were used in its construction?
  • Do the building and its amenities have a minimal impact on the natural environment?
  • Does the site have sustainable ways of creating and using energy? I.e. solar, passive/natural cooling & LED lighting.
  • How does the property handle its water? Does it collect rainwater for reuse? Do they irrigate with treated greywater?
  • How do they deal with food and other kinds of waste?

If you're not looking to spend a lot of money and are good with ‘roughing it’, then camping or glamping are for you. You may need to utilize solar powered devices and use an a composting toilet, but these choices help reduce your impact on the environment.

Get Out There

As human beings we are naturally prone to wander, and as our dreams manifest themselves in reality so too does the need for exploration. But when it comes to travel, there is a balance that must be met between satisfying your wanderlust without sacrificing Mother Nature's gifts. So while you're dreaming of all those future trips on the horizon take these ten simple steps to help make every journey more sustainable:

See you on the Trail!

Image Courtesy of jffrey Keenan