The Responsible Traveler: 5 Easy Ways to Travel Sustainably

The Responsible Traveler: 5 Easy Ways to Travel Sustainably

Do you love traveling, and are you excited about visiting new places? But are you aware of the negative impacts that tourism can hae on destinations – from littered cultural sites (like Machu Pichu in Peru) to beaches having to close down because of over-use (like Maya Bay in Thailand)? Since you are on this page, then sustainable tourism is about to become (hopefully) your new way of traveling. We prepared five easy ways to help you offset such effects by traveling sustainably while exploring new destinations.

What is sustainable tourism? Well, in the simplest terms, it’s a way to visit a destination as a tourist who supports local economies, promotes culture, and protects the environment. Sustainable tourism might sound overwhelming if you’re new to the idea, but it doesn’t have to be.  By using these five easy tips, you’ll be choosing more sustainable alternatives to what you already book and plan on vacations.

1. Choose a green destination

Photo by Tilo G. on Shutter-stock

The Uckermark Region in Brandenburg is one of the many green destinations in Germany

What are green destinations? Green destinations celebrate local culture and traditions, support local businesses, and protect its scenic habitats. Famous green destinations include Chile and Sweden, but you don’t need to travel far to visit green destinations. The organization, Green Destinations, has a map of green destinations all over the world. It’s a great place to start your search for green destinations. Check and see if there’s one near you!

2. Choose to travel by train, bus, or ship over airplanes

Photo by JK on Unsplash

The Mondovi Express in India is considered one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world.

Flights produce more greenhouse gases per passenger than any other mode of transportation, especially when traveling distances shorter than roughly 1,000 km (around 600 miles). You don’t need to take planes to see beautiful destinations.  Germany and its neighbors are well-connected by trains.  With the prices of train tickets becoming more affordable, traveling by train instead of airplanes is easier than ever!  It helps to protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reduces your carbon footprint.  Plus, taking a train instead of a plane to a neighboring country doesn’t take much more time than flights when you calculate the time you need to get to the airport, check-in, and go through security.  If you must travel by plane, try to book non-stop flights because planes burn a lot of fuel during take-off and landing

3. Book a sustainable hotel

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

RIO Touareg Hotel in Camp Verde supports conservationists in raising eco-awareness among tourists.

With companies becoming more eco-friendly, hotels are also becoming more sustainable. Book your stay with hotels that have eco-friendly practices. These can be small practices like having guests reuse linens instead of replacing them every day. You can check the hotel’s websites to see their eco-friendly habits or send them a quick e-mail to ask about their eco-friendly options.

4. Use public transportation instead of car rentals

Photo by Yaoqi Lai on Unsplash

Traveling by public transportation can be the most convenient way to get around metropolitan cities like Berlin, Germany.

Using public transportation is more eco-friendly than privately renting a car. It reduces the number of vehicles on the roads. This helps to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. If you need to take a car, consider hiring a taxi or participating in the “shared” economy (think Uber, Lift, and BlaBlaCar). This is not only more sustainable, but also helps you save money while traveling.

5. Buy gifts and souvenirs from small, locally-owned shops

Photo by David T on Unsplash

Small shops like this one in Assisi, Italy can be found in almost every city around the world.

You probably already buy souvenirs and small gifts when traveling.  Instead of shopping at big stores, make an effort to shop in small, locally owned shops.  You help to put money directly into the local economy. Doing this benefits the people living in the area.

These tips are easy choices you can make to travel more sustainably on your next adventure.  Use them as a part of your traveling routine and your trips will be more sustainable: economically, culturally, and environmentally.

If these tips are already a part of your usual itinerary, keep an eye out for our article on advanced tips for sustainable travel.