Budget airlines, reduced ticket prices and exclusive deals mean that it’s never been easier (or cheaper) to see the world. However, travel can come at a tremendous environmental cost. Carbon emissions, unsustainable tourism and environmental degradation can all result from our travel experiences. After the article on how we went from Mexico to Alaska with zero-emission, here is a guide to discover five top tips for reducing the environmental impact of your next travel adventure.
1. Take public transport
According to the EPA, 12% of all transportation greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States are from the aviation industry. So, the best way you can reduce the environmental impact of your trip is to not fly at all! Choosing more environmentally friendly transport will not only help reduce your carbon footprint, but it will also mean that you get to see more of the place you are visiting. Travelling by plane is often quicker, but you don’t get to see too much from 31,000 feet! So take a train, tuk-tuk, bus or coach and enjoy the landscape before even arriving at your destination.
2. Carbon offset flights
Making sure you have all the right documents for your holiday can be complicated enough, what with passports, visas and medical insurance to sort out – TUI recommends creating a checklist to keep track of them all before you leave! However, making sure that you offset the carbon produced from your flight is an essential step to travelling more sustainably. Some airlines and travel companies are starting to offer more sustainable travel by reducing carbon emissions and increasing aeroplane efficiency. Make sure you check before your flight what the estimated amount of carbon produced per person will be and try to offset this by planting trees (or donating to a charity which plants trees).
Another way to reduce your environmental impact while flying is by taking direct, non-stop flights. Cheaper flights with a layover can seem like a good deal, but considering that planes emit the majority of their carbon during take-off and landing (depending on the length of the flight), only taking one flight will drastically reduce your carbon footprint.
3. Take your own water bottle
Depending on where you are travelling, it may be possible to never have to pay for water if you take your own bottle! Of course, drinking tap water in some countries is not recommended, which is why you may want to invest in a self-cleaning or filtering water bottle. That way, you can take water from any tap, fountain or even river and you never have to repurchase disposable plastic bottles!
4. Choose sustainable activities
Some activities are harmful to the environment. Taking a helicopter ride in the Grand Canyon, riding an elephant or posing with a large jungle cat may seem innocuous enough, but they actually cause real harm. Try to be aware of the dangers of activities on offer to tourists, by doing a bit of research before you arrive.
5. Stay somewhere eco-friendly
Eco-tourism is a big deal in many holiday destinations, so it won’t be hard to find amazing places to stay that are both affordable and environmentally friendly. Before booking your accommodation, check whether your hotel/resort has any eco-certification or environmental standards. Although this can vary from country to country, many resorts will offer a fantastic holiday experience while also taking care to protect the local environment.