Traveling the world, exploring hidden secrets, learning about many different cultures and meeting great people should be on everyone's bucket list. Some might say it's unsustainable due to the CO2 emissions from air travel. However, restricting travel, whether for business or pleasure, is not the solution. So here are some tips on how to be a more sustainable traveler while still enjoying the world.
Avoid flying if possible
There are also many different ways to get around, such as by bus, train, car or even a motorcycle. We now know that air travel is five times faster but also five times more harmful to the environment. So when you're traveling in a country, you can enjoy a different way of traveling than by air, while you also get to see the actual sights along the way.
When exploring a city, you should circle around a tourist destination every day and explore as much as possible. You don't have to mark the biggest sights, because you won't get to know the real local culture. The next day, take the train or bus to a completely different area and spend the day exploring as much as you can.
Explore places off the beaten track
If everyone goes to the same 5-10 places, there will be overtourism, congestion, overcrowding and price increases. Every destination has many other places where you can better experience the local culture and gain peace of mind. You can also visit many places in the off-season and have them all to yourself.
The same goes for smaller towns around major destinations that engage more with the local culture. It’s better to be popular than to have people haggling with you all day about tour costs or harassing you with souvenirs.
Ultimately, this way you'll be better positioned to invest tourism dollars into the city and help make tourism more sustainable in the long run.
Visit closer to home first
You'd be surprised how many places close to home have not been explored, or are more familiar to locals in the area. This is the least harmful and has a lower carbon footprint than traveling to another country.
Explore your city first, then neighboring cities, and so on. Maybe next year you will travel to other destinations outside of your country, but after this year you will explore other cities in your country again. If you keep doing this, you'll have more fun, enjoy and appreciate your country, and leave a smaller carbon footprint than before.
Stop using single-use plastic
When you travel, don't buy a travel bag because it can go in the trash when it's ready. Instead, buy recyclable plastic bottles and fill them up before your trip. If you run out before the end of the trip, please refill with the free toiletries provided by the hotel.
This is just the first step in reducing plastic use. You can use a stronger glass container, which will probably be heavier, but then you'll stop using plastic. Also, speaking of mugs, keep a retractable mug handy as it saves a lot of space.
Use the fewest number of connecting flights
A stopover or transit flight may be cheaper for you or the airline. However, it is more harmful to the environment, as the greatest CO2 emissions are generated during landing and takeoff. Instead, if possible, take a direct flight to your final destination. It will be more expensive, but at least more sustainable.
Find eco-friendly accommodation
While most five-star hotels offer a luxurious accommodation experience, they are among the least sustainable. Some issues are disposable toiletries in plastic bottles, daily clean towels, sheets etc.
There are many eco-friendly but smaller places that support local awareness in a more sustainable way. These places are run by local managers who support the local community more than fancy hotels.
Love and embrace the art of slow travel
These days, we want to get to our destination as quickly as possible, explore a lot, wear ourselves out, and sleep for the next day. We keep repeating until it's time to return. We have forgotten to sit in one place, notice every tiny noise and movement, no matter how small, and let everything affect our art.
Traveling is not about visiting as many places as possible. It's more about experiencing culture and exploring your own. When you're busy at home, you don't have time to think.
Therefore, travel by bus or train as often as possible. Let each experience move you and enjoy how the locals talk, move, eat and behave. Sitting on the train and reading a book. Make it an experience, not a game.
Do not throw out trash or plastic
You care about the neighborhood you live in and keep it as clean as possible. There is also a reason to be fined for littering. But when traveling, don't forget about your poise, throwing rappers and bags around. Be responsible and keep everything clean wherever you are.
Reduce SOveneir footprint
Keepsakes are pieces of jewelry that hang on the wall to keep their memories forever. The experiences you gain while traveling make you who you are and give you a better perspective on life.
Live with locals or use Airbnb or Couchsurfing
Saving money is also good for your sustainability, as you can make new friends, experience nearby homes and help them financially. In most cases, they will be happy to show you around and accompany you if needed.
Staying in a hotel and sharing with the locals doesn't waste energy either. Plus, you make lifelong friends and help each other out on the trip.
These are some of the sustainable tips we discuss in this article. But there are many more, and these will give you a good foundation for the future.