Your travel word of the day: Flygskam. This recently coined Swedish word translates to ‘flight guilt.’ Flygskam encompasses the feelings of guilt or shame associated with knowing the negative environmental impact of traveling by plane. As travelers around the world become more eco-conscious, we’re all likely to feel a little flygskam. In fact, one of the main things competing with our collective wanderlust is the collective price tag our travels have on the environment. The good news is that there have never been more options or more ways to pursue a greener itinerary. If you want to learn how to travel sustainably, we’ve put together a list of travel tips you can put into action before your next trip.
What Does Sustainable Travel Mean?
The first step in traveling sustainably is to understand exactly what it is. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), defines sustainable travel (or 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.” One of the unpleasant truths of traveling is that it can, if not done eco-consciously, increase your carbon footprint substantially. A carbon footprint is a measurement of how much your lifestyle negatively impacts the environment. As people become more eco-conscious, the travel industry is making moves to help travelers travel sustainably.
8 Sustainable Travel Tips
Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest challenges of sustainable international travel is transportation. So instead of taking multiple short trips per year, you can reduce your environmental impact by taking one long trip and staying in one place. Not only will this allow you to travel more sustainably, but also, you can really immerse yourself in the local culture and practice mindful travel.
Choose eco-lodges and eco-resorts
Eco-lodges and eco-resorts are overnight accommodations that offer a range of eco-friendly options and services. When you’re researching these green lodging accommodations be aware that not all eco-stay are created equal. And some resorts may call themselves eco-friendly, but when you look closer, things might not be as they appear. You’ll want to carefully review the amenities and reach out to the hotel staff if you have any questions.
Invest in local communities
Part of sustainable tourism involves giving back to the environment and the people you’re visiting. When you spend money in these local communities you are empowering them, helping them sustain their livelihoods and off-setting some of the negative effects traveling can have.
Embrace walking or bike tours
Some types of transportation, like boats and planes can have a serious impact on the environment. While many of these types of transportation providers are making efforts to reduce these effects, there are other, greener ways to see the sites of your destination city. Walking and bike tours are great alternatives. Not only are these tours good for the environment, they’re also good for you. So, you get a more intimate, up-close experience, but you’re also getting some exercise, too.
Avoid single-use plastic
This one is a good idea for anyone looking to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle, but it’s especially meaningful for travelers. Travelers tend to drink a lot of bottled water. Now sometimes bottled water is unavoidable. For instance, it may not be safe for people unaccustomed to drinking water in certain countries to do so. Still packing a water bottle, and reusable grocery bags can help you travel more sustainably.
Practice carbon offsetting with a carbon calculator
Carbon offsetting is the practice of finding other ways to offset your carbon footprint. For travelers this can mean spending a certain amount of money within the local communities they visit. There are a number of apps that help travelers assign a dollar amount to the environmental impact their trip plans have. The idea is that when you do make your trip, you’ll invest this dollar amount to help sustain the local communities you’re visiting.
Use more sustainable transportation
France recently announced that they’ll be banning certain short-haul flights. Basically if you can get there in less than two hours by train or by car, flights will no longer be an option. It’s possible that other countries might follow suit. For greener alternate transportation, when you can avoid flying and cruise ship sailing, do it. Getting where you want to go by car, or travel by train or bike may take a little longer but this will also help you slow down and really focus on the sights and sounds all around you.
Research travel companies with sustainability initiatives
Engaging in sustainable travel can seem a bit daunting but as the world continues to become more eco-conscious, more travel companies than ever before are finding ways to help travelers travel sustainably. With a little research you can find everything from city-specific apps to help you travel greenly to organizations offering eco-friendly travel experiences.
Companies Promoting Sustainable Travel
Here are some companies and resources that help eco-conscious travelers reduce the negative impact of their travels.
- Responsible Travel – Responsible Travel is an activist travel company offering over 6,000 responsible holidays from 400 holiday providers around the world.
- Seacology – Seacology offers ecotourism expeditions with the aim of supporting and giving back to local communities around the world.
- Skyscanner – This travel company will help you customize your trip by helping you select flights and hotels that fit your dream itineraries.They’ve made it their mission to lead the global transformation to sustainable travel.
- Glooby – Glooby is a travel search engine that enables users to find and compare prices on airplane tickets and hotels, while indicating the most fuel-efficient flights and eco-labeled hotels.
- Localvore – Localvore helps people discover restaurants, farmers, producers, and retailers who are sourcing locally, creating great food, and supporting their communities.
- Sustainable Travel International’s Carbon Offset Calculator – Sustainable Travel International is dedicated to protecting our planet’s most vulnerable destinations and transforming tourism’s impact on nature and people. Their carbon offset calculator helps travelers assign a dollar equivalent to their trip’s carbon footprint. Eco-conscious travelers can spend that dollar amount within the local communities they visit.
Greener travel might seem out of reach but if you take it one step at a time, it’s entirely achievable. If every traveler were to make their next itinerary a little greener by, say choosing to stay at an eco-lodge, or employing greener transportation, there’s a good chance that the collective result would show us just how easy it is to start making a positive impact on our environment.
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