As tourists, we should be more mindful of how we travel and our impact when we arrive at a destination.
Traveling less is best but for those who want to see the world, there are ways to make your trips more sustainable, including where you choose to travel, what you take and a lot on how you decide to get there.
What is Sustainable Travel?
First off you might be wondering what sustainable travel is. Well it means finding the balance between traveling and tourism that can be maintained long-term without harming natural and cultural environments. Sustainable travel should minimise the negative impacts of tourism and help our environment.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (WTO) defines sustainable tourism as
“Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”
Sustainable travel is about enjoying our beautiful planet whilst still valuing and appreciating our environment whilst looking after our natural resources. The general public needs to be made more aware of the effects of travelling and the pollution levels that come with it and how that affects their surroundings. They also need to know how tourism affects the locals, business and cultures native to where they travel.
Before you dive in, why not check out our woodland forestry services? Including a service in which you can offset your traveling impacts by planting trees to combat personal carbon footprints, which we offer here.
1. Travel Less
This may seem like a not so obvious choice but travelling less is the best way to travel more sustainably. One of the simplest ways to cut back on emissions is to travel and fly less often. This could be from chopping down how many international trips you take to travelling somewhere more locally or simply staying at home for a staycation.
2. Travel to a Green Destination
Remember, when picking a place to visit, you want to spend your money on the economies of a country that actually cares about our planet and actively try in becoming more greener and sustainable.
If you are stuck on where to choose to travel, the first place to look is the guys at Conserve Energy Future, who have a list ranking how green and climate-conscious the country is.
Surprisingly the world’s ten most green, clean air, climate-conscious countries are all in Europe.
3. Offset Your Carbon Emissions
Travel is essential to making this world a better place. Let's make it sustainable.
On average, every human being produces 12 tonnes of Co2 per year. One tree is able, through its lifetime, to offset and store 1 tonne of Co2. By travelling, this only adds up more. For example, did you know that one tree will remove 1,000 kg of Co2 in its lifetime? That's a 2,500 mile road trip across India, a 5 hour flight to Europe or a 38 night stay at that hostel you are planning to book.
There are several companies and services which will allow you to offset your carbon footprint from travelling. We offer a service that allows you to plant trees to offset your personal carbon footprint, which increases when you travel. Check out our tree donation page here for the next time you want to offset on your travels!
4. Stay in Eco Friendly Houses
Source: Home Stratosphere
You can help be more sustainable while travelling by staying in eco-friendly houses while away, whether this is an Airbnb or a rented apartment. An Eco-house is essentially an environmentally low-impact home designed and built using materials and technology that reduces its carbon footprint and lowers its energy needs.
The features of an eco-friendly house are that it could have solar panels, use renewable energy, or it could even be that they have used sustainable materials to build the house, or are insulated.
By supporting eco-friendly houses it will offset more of your carbon footprint travelling there and could help drive demand which could hopefully drive more business and developers to build more sustainable properties.
5. Support Local Business
This goes without saying, support local! Not only will you be cultured in trying new things and gaining new experiences, but you will also be helping the locals who depend on tourists for their livelihood. You don't want your money going to big corporations who exploit local workers.
So next time you go away, make sure to skip the global fast-food chains and go eat in small restaurants, cafes and stalls, which ensures your money goes directly into the surrounding community. It also gives you an authentic insight into what the local and regional dishes are and how people enjoy them. Avoid the convenience and comfort of going to fast food places such as McDonald's abroad and branch out!
6. Train, Bus, Car > Planes
Air travel is now one of the fastest-growing contributors to climate change. The aviation industry is said to contribute between 4 and 9% of humans' total climate change impact. This means that choosing not to fly is a sustainable action that helps you shrink your carbon footprint.
When in doubt, take a train as you can see below. Traveling by bus or train is a lot more efficient and environmentally friendly than either driving or flying. Both buses and trains not only use a significant amount of fuel less, but they also release much lower amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In fact, traveling by bus rather than flying could decrease your carbon footprint by up to 13 times.
Average CO2 Emissions
|Bus||0.17 lbs/passenger mile|
|Train||0.41 lbs/passenger mile|
|Car||1.17 lbs/passenger mile|
|Airplane||1.83 lbs/passenger mile|
7. Avoid Cruises
Not only are cruise ships terrible for the ocean and environment, they’re also not great for human health.
- Exploit workers paying them very little
- Bad for the oceans
- Exploit cities
- Exploit locals
- Are wasteful
Luckily, there is hope within the cruise community who are trying to do their bit to go greener. There’s even a zero-waste Japanese Ecoship called the Peace Boat, which is in development as we speak. It will have features such as a hybrid engine and fuelled by wind and solar power.
But if you do love yourself a good cruise, it's important to choose which liner you will go with. The guys at FOE have done the research for you and have made an unofficial scorecard of the most popular liners. They rate them on things such as pollution reduction, sewage and transparency. Check it out here.
When picking out what to or where to go on vacation or travelling, why not try out camping. It's essentially off-grid or if you are too fearful and need some more comfort- why not try out campings more show-offy sister - Glamping.
Glamping abodes are regularly created with the use of sustainable materials, such as wood, while also having heating facilities that have a minimal effect on the environment, such as a log burner.
If you’re heading off on a camping or glamping adventure, your carbon footprint will be a lot less than if you were to go abroad. This means you don’t have to fly, and therefore reduce the ozone-damaging emissions that are released into the atmosphere.
If you are interested in glamping in the UK, check out the Top 10 Sustainable Glamping Sites In the UK. Or if you still want to travel abroad and pick somewhere sustainable to stay, check out the list the guys at Ecobnb have made here.
9. Pack Light
One easy way to travel sustainably is by packing light. This is simple you need to bring what you need by sorting and organizing your belongings into which days and what exactly you will need. This will help if you overpack, and also help a lot if you are travelling by plane by saving you some money on overweight bag charges.
Packing light also benefits our planet. Reduces the use of vehicles and other equipment to move you and your belongings, reduces the fuel for those vehicles as well as reducing the greenhouse gas production. Meaning less damage to our Earth.
10. Take Sustainable Products With You
In addition to packing light, you should be packing sustainable products. Bringing sturdy products will help minimise the waste and your overall carbon footprint. Below are some products we recommend for you that we think are essential in bringing away to become more sustainable when travelling;
- Reusable Water bottle
- Reusable utensils
- Reusable straw
- Sturdy bag
- Reef safe sunscreen
- Shampoo and conditioner bars
- Solar-powered charger
- Soap Nuts
- Deet free insect repellent
- Eco-friendly toiletries (reusable period products, natural deodorant, soap bars)
11. Eat Veggie Or Vegan While Away
You may think: how are sustainable travel and diet-related? Simple. A meat-free diet will reduce your carbon footprint even more than if you stop flying and recycling since it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, global acidification and eutrophication, farmland usage, and water consumption.
This might seem like not much of a deal, but diet is a big way in which you can become more sustainable. The practise of vegetarianism and veganism has seen a surge wave of popularity, which you have probably noticed with many supermarkets and restaurants flinging out so many veggie options and the various amounts of plant-based dairy products.
If you already are, this is a bonus, but if you are not, taking up a veggie/vegan diet while away can help offset your carbon footprint as meat and dairy account for 58% of emissions out of the total 26% of global emissions coming from food. This means that cutting meat and dairy products could reduce a person’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. This doesn't mean you have to become a full time veggie or vegan as just practicing intermittently can help our planet.
12. Fly With Companies That Use Reusable Biofuel!
The aviation industry is one of the world’s biggest emitters of carbon – and this carbon is emitted at higher altitudes which is potentially even more harmful than sea level emissions. The industry is becoming more aware of what they need to do to fix the planet.
However, this goes without saying, it's inevitable sometimes to avoid flying if you want to travel and see all the world has to offer. Just make sure you look into which companies actually take a stance on climate change and invest in our planet by using renewable biofuels.
Popular airlines such as Virgin, Lufthansa and British Airways are part of several airlines which have vowed to help create and use renewable fuel. To see a full comprehensive global list visit the guys at Intelligent Partnerships who have summarised the lot.
13. Staycation Staycation Staycation
This year has been a crazy one. Due to the pandemic and the constant back and forth of travel rules and restrictions, a lot of the British public have been urged to holiday at home or have chosen to do so themselves to save the disappointment of a cancelled holiday.
This is actually one of the best ways to stay environmentally friendly while travelling, not only are you supporting your local economy, small businesses etc. By using a car, rail or boat to get there, you have already succeeded in having a more environmentally friendly holiday.
Don't worry, we have you covered on searching for the best places to stay at! We have compiled the 14 Best Airbnbs to stay at in the UK that are both entwined with nature and a lot of them have planted a lot of trees with us/or by themselves to help offset their properties and personal carbon footprints.
We hope to continue our efforts and help people become more environmentally aware and help offset carbon footprints within the UK soon, so excitingly, we are opening up the opportunity to the public to invest in us! By investing in us, you are not only making an investment for yourself but also for our planet. If you are interested in this, please visit us on Seeders to pre-register before we go live.
We hope you have enjoyed our article and found our tips on how to travel more sustainably. We want the people of the UK to enjoy your summer.