The sustainable travel definition as stated by the World Tourism Organization is: “”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.” Basically, being aware of and minimizing impacts of tourism on the environment (including animals) and local communities.
More and more people are traveling these days. Mostly the younger generation that no longer feels they need nor want to be tied down to a traditional lifestyle. I can’t say I blame them as I feel the exact same way. We all know that the quickest way to a far off place is by plane and most of the time that can’t be avoided. But, there are other things you can do to lessen your impact on the planet.
There have been recent studies done on the impact that travel and tourism is having on the planet. I am a firm believer in lessening our footprints as much as we possibly can. While there are some things you just can’t get around there are ways to minimize your impact as you travel.
#1 Reusable Bottle
Pack a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water. Of course this isn’t going to work if you are in a third world country where clean drinking water is hard to come by. BUT, there are reusable bottles with filters on them. It would be a good investment for those who like to travel to those types of countries.
#2 Microfiber Towel
Bring your own microfiber towel. They are quick drying so no need to wash it constantly. Plus they pack down very small and take up very little room in your pack/luggage. If you are staying in a hotel reuse your towel, don’t just throw them on the floor.
#3 Reusable Straws
More and more places are realizing the damage plastic straws are causing. It is hurting our sea life and wild life. I personally use metal straws at home but I think I am going to invest in a more travel friendly straw. There are some countries where it is simply not safe to drink straight out of a cup. So, bring your own straw and forgo that plastic throwaway kind.
#4 Take the train
Once you arrive in your destination use public transportation. Most of the time those modes are more efficient and cause less carbon output. Say you are in France and you want to go to Spain, take the train! Sure it will take a little longer but, the pros outweigh the cons in my book. Plus trains are MUCH more comfortable.
#5 Reusable Totes
Take reusable totes with you on the road! They can be used for a number of things. Carrying dirty laundry to the laundromat, shopping at a local market, used for a day bag, etc. Using a reusable tote will help cut down on the use of plastics.
#6 Buy local/handmade
Not only will this help with cutting down on manufacture emissions it will also help the local economy. I have bought some of the most beautiful handmade jewelry made by local people in my travels.
#7 Shampoo/Conditioner Bars
Instead of using liquid shampoo in plastic containers. Think about purchasing Shampoo/conditioner bars. These will last a whole lot longer than that tiny bottle of shampoo/conditioner. Also use bar soap. Plus you won’t have to worry about having too many liquids when you do fly.
#8 Choose a less touristy destination
Who doesn’t want to go to Paris, Rome, or Venice? Those places are becoming more and more crowded every day. Do some research check out some other cities that don’t see as many tourists. I’m sure they would love to have your tourism dollars. Help grow their local economy and help minimize the impact tourism is having in those other more well known areas.
#9 Stay in a hostel or an airbnb
Staying in a hostel or an airbnb you will have access to a kitchen. Cook your own food. Don’t go out and eat for every single meal while you are traveling. Plus you will save a ton of money doing this. A win win if you ask me!
#10 Second hand travel gear
Instead of buying a new pack or luggage for the trip coming up. See if someone you know has what you need. It will not only save you money in the long run but also keep from wasting more resources. If you absolutely HAVE to buy a pack or new luggage make sure it is made with eco friendly products. Make sure you get good use out of the pack/luggage as well.
Instead of taking a taxi (I’ve been guilty of it), walk! One of the best ways to see a new destination is to walk. Or if it’s the end of the day and your feet are aching from walking so much you could always rent a bicycle. There are many large cities that now offer bicycles for rent. It’ll save your feet and your wallet.
#12 Travel & Pack light
This is another one of those instances where it will save you money and help save the planet! The less you take the less of an impact you will make. Who really needs a ton of clothes to travel anyway?
#13 Do your laundry in a sink
This is not the most glamorous way to get your laundry done but it will certainly do the trick. I went through hurricane Katrina and we were without power for WEEKS. I learned quickly how to wash my laundry in the sink and bathtub. We had no hot water for weeks but somehow we managed. It will cut down on the energy it takes to power the washing/drying machines and again WILL SAVE YOU MONEY!
#14 Eco friendly tour company
If you MUST travel with a tour company make sure they are eco friendly. Normally traveling with a smaller group is better for the environment and you will probably have a better time anyway.
According to the Independent tourism accounts for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The global tourism industry is growing at an annual rate of about 5 per cent, outpacing the growth of international trade. I believe if people would take these small steps it would help greatly. Everyone seems to want a luxurious vacation. Why not a budget friendly one? The luxury vacations seem to be costing the planet more than budget friendly ones. We should ALL be doing our part to minimize our impact on the planet, after all this is the only one we have!
Note: Any links included are purely for your research purposes. I am not selling anything.