The travel and tourism industry makes up roughly 10% of the global GDP, providing more than 300 million jobs across the globe. On the flip side, the same industry is responsible for approximately 10% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainable travel is multi-layered and involves a lot of factors. It considers the current and future environmental, economic, and social impact you will have on the people and the environment around you.
With climate change on the rise and the rebirth of travel post-pandemic, this is the best time to incorporate these seven tips to protect our planet one trip at a time.
1. Go during the off-peak season
One of the most significant adverse side effects of travel is over-tourism. It happens when certain places or attractions are visited by an excessive amount of people. While it’s great for the local economy, it can also increase water consumption, air pollution, litter, waste, ecosystem destruction, and more.
To avoid over-tourism, fly to your desired destination during the least busy months. Not only will places be less crowded, but you’ll typically find cheaper deals in terms of flights and accommodations. You could also visit lesser-known locales and take the adventure route via an off-the-beaten-track. The best experiences are only sometimes the most popular ones!
2. Be conscious of how you get around
Aircraft emissions have a powerful impact on our climate. They can trigger chemical reactions and atmospheric effects that heat the planet. Thus, it is highly recommended to travel by road or rail whenever possible.
If you have to take a plane, consider purchasing tickets from airlines that invest in biofuels. Another tip would be to direct-book flights instead of multi-stop ones. Not only is travel time shorter, but this also means fewer carbon emissions.
Once you’re at your destination, consider walking or cycling to your next stop instead of taking a car or cab. Trust us, it makes for great exercise!
3. Choose sustainable accommodations and operators
The great thing about sustainable travel is its popularity with travelers, providers, and operators. Look for accommodations with certification programs, eco-friendly products, and initiatives that help support the environment. Most environmentally-conscious hotels display this on their website, but if not, send them a message to ask.
Choosing tour operators who believe in sustainable and eco-conscious travel is also something you can do. TripGuru, for example, provides ethically curated tours emphasizing the environment and local culture. The globally trusted tour operator only partners with local experts who are just as passionate about sustainable travel.
4. Pack light but meaningfully
Instead of lugging around multiple suitcases, use one luggage bag and be intentional about what you throw inside it. You can always wash your clothes in neighborhood laundromats or launder some pieces on your own anyway.
Consider also packing reusable, zero-waste items that will help you avoid single-use plastics. Things like your own water bottle or jug, a washable food container and utensils, a blanket, and reef-safe sunscreen. Toiletries such as shampoo bars, toothpaste tabs, and bamboo toothbrushes are also great additions to your plastic-free travel arsenal.
5. Support local
Instead of eating at mainstream, international fast-food chains, get your grub at a local restaurant or food stall. You can also buy souvenirs from a street vendor or artist to help support their craft. Indeed, supporting grassroots communities is a great way to empower local inhabitants.
You can also book tours and trips with them. TripGuru partners with friendly and knowledgeable local guides – not only does the tour operator company create specially curated trips but they also provide jobs to locals in the area.
6. Respect what’s around you
Sustainable travel is not just about carbon emissions, avoiding single-use plastics, and supporting the locals. It’s also about being thoughtful about your words, actions, and movement. Whether this is by protecting communities, wildlife, nature, and animals, everyone deserves due regard. After all, you’re a visitor in their home.
When booking tours involving animals, do your research and only choose operators that put the animals’ welfare first. For example, when going to elephant sanctuaries or swimming with marine life, follow all the guidelines and resist interfering with the animals’ way of life.
7. Avoid leaving traces
Ever heard of the quote: “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints”? It’s a great motto to practice when overseas! Travel sustainably by not taking sand from beaches or removing plants and other creatures from their natural habitat. Also, don’t mark trees, leave litter on sidewalks, or throw things in places where they don’t belong.
If you don’t see any bins around you, keep discarded matters until you reach your hotel to chuck them out of the trash. It’s all about leaving the place you’ve been in as is or even better than it was.
TripGuru is a globally trusted tour operator by experience-focused and environmentally-conscious travelers. Book your tours now here.