Sustainable Travel – Minimizing Your Environmental Impact While Exploring the World

Briana 4 Min Read

Travelers today are expressing more interest and willingness to pay for sustainable travel, a type of tourism that takes full account of its economic, social, and environmental impacts. It also aims to address the needs of hosts, travelers, and local communities and protects culture, traditions, and natural environments. While most travelers know that they should bring their own reusable water bottles and zero-waste bags while traveling, there’s actually much more that can be done to practice sustainability when you’re visiting other countries.

From choosing a destination that prioritizes sustainability to staying in hostels that use recycled linen, there are a lot of ways you can travel sustainably no matter where in the world you are. One of the most impactful things you can do is to practice “leave no trace” travel, a guiding ethos that means you should never leave trash behind or disturb wildlife in any way. This is something that can be easily implemented whether you’re hiking in the mountains, snorkeling in the ocean, or just walking along a beautiful beach. Another thing to consider is the kind of attractions you visit while on your trip. For example, some wildlife attractions are extremely detrimental to animal welfare. Take note of the mission statement of zoos, aquariums, and any other attraction you’re thinking about visiting.

Also be wary of any attraction that promotes animal riding, selfies, or other activities that involve animals as a form of entertainment. If you’re taking a flight, try to minimize your carbon footprint by selecting a direct route that doesn’t require multiple stopovers. Additionally, avoid premium cabins like business or first class when possible as they are the most fuel-intensive. When it comes to transportation, try to get around by train or bus (editor’s note: we love Busbud for booking bus travel all over the world!). This is a more environmentally friendly way to get around and oftentimes offers a more interesting experience than flying. Another thing to keep in mind is that a large number of low-income countries rely on tourism as their primary source of income.

However, research shows that only a small fraction of tourism revenue stays in the local economy. It’s important to do your research so you can find a tour company or hotel that prioritizes the well-being of local businesses and communities. Traveling sustainably doesn’t have to be restrictive or boring, but it does require some thought and planning ahead of time. Fortunately, with more people than ever before voicing their interest in sustainable travel and the increased accessibility to a variety of eco-friendly products and services, there are more options than ever for travelers to make a difference while exploring the globe. With just a single return flight creating more CO2 than the residents of some countries create in an entire year, it’s up to each of us to do our part.