With climate change and single-use plastics at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it’s important to tackle the question of environmentally friendly travel so that we, as travellers, can reduce our impact on the planet and make practical yet ethical choices when it comes to exploring Mother Earth.
According to a recent study published in the scientific journal, Nature Climate Change, tourism accounts for around 8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions when you consider everything from flying to food consumption and souvenir shopping undertaken by travellers. While this is relatively low compared to that produced by fossil fuels, cars and the meat industry, it is still significant, and all that we can do to work towards reducing that number will make a difference.
Here we’ve compiled our top tips for environmentally friendly travel so that you can put into place practical, actionable steps to lighten your load on the planet.
While it can be tempting to pack everything and the kitchen sink when you go away, ‘just in case’, it is important to remember that the fuel consumed by all transportation methods used will be higher the more weight they have to carry. Therefore, the less you pack the better. Not only will packing carefully help to reduce your impact on the planet, but it will lessen stress and strains on your back and neck and will also save you time and possible anxiety when choosing what to wear throughout your journey. Win-win!
Take Your Reusables
More and more of us are using reusables on a daily basis but it is vital to remember to take these with you when you travel to reduce your use of single-use plastic while you are away. Whether it’s your faithful Keep Cup, a refillable bottle, metal straw or bamboo cutlery, you’ll be amazed at how many times you reach for your reusables while on the road. Your morning smoothie will be all the sweeter when you know you’re not contributing to the worrying statistics claiming there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
Check Out Environmental Ethos and Credentials
Another thing to consider when travelling is the environmental ethos of the hotels you are using throughout your trip. It can be really disheartening to learn that all your efforts of being an environmentally friendly traveller have all but gone out of the window when you stay at a large, unethical hotel chain. At Me Time Away we like to choose small, luxurious destinations that centre around connecting with nature so you know you are opting for hotels and retreat centres with green credentials.
Explore Alternative Travel Options
It’s inevitable that some trips will require you to take air travel to/from your destination but unfortunately, this isn’t the most sustainable way to get around. It’s therefore good to think about whether you really need to fly or if you could take public transport or drive instead. Overland trips usually offer a much more authentic view of a country and can even save you money too. If you are going to travel further afield, perhaps make this an annual treat rather than a regular affair, and be conscious and mindful when booking to ensure you choose the most sustainable option.
Sometimes it’s easy to slip into holiday mode and feel as though we want to treat ourselves to luxuriously long showers without thinking about the consequences. However, it is a known fact that it takes a lot of energy to produce clean running water so it is vital to remember that each shower or bath we take has an effect on Mother Earth. If we can be as present and mindful as we are at home of the water we consume, then we’ll reduce our impact and become much more environmentally-friendly travellers.
Discover Sustainable Clothing Brands
Sustainable clothing is having a real moment right now with everything from recycled fibres and organic cotton, to crease-free clothes making our travel choices that much easier. Thankfully, gone are the days of sustainable clothing being zip-off trousers in safari hues! You can now find pieces that are stylish, comfortable and sustainable so you can create a capsule collection wardrobe for while you’re on the road. You can even find items that have in-built mosquito-repellent so you can save yet another thing from your packing list!
Minimise Multi-Stop Trips
It goes without saying that multi-stop journeys have more of an impact on the planet than single destination trips, which is why we here at Me Time Away like to focus on single stop wellness retreats that allow you to be still and connect with nature. The more present you are in any one destination the more you are able to truly soak up its culture and atmosphere. The term less is more has never been more pertinent!
Eat and Drink Local
Eating and drinking locally is one of the most important factors when thinking about sustainable travel as it not only has a positive impact on the planet but also the community with which you are engaging. The more often you choose locally-sourced produce the better it is for the environment, the local economy and your own experience as you will truly enjoy an authentic taste of your destination.
Off-Set Your Carbon Emissions
The average carbon footprint of a person in the UK is 6.5 tonnes and 11 tonnes per person in other industrialised countries so it is important to bring this into consideration when thinking about being an environmentally-friendly traveller. Carbon offsetting is an easy way to reduce the effect of your travel that helps combat climate change in a real, actionable way. CarbonFootprint.Com allows you to calculate your carbon footprint and then pay to offset the carbon emissions through the use of worldwide projects that work to plant trees and increase biodiversity.
Leave No Trace
Last but by no means least is the idea of taking only photographs and leaving only footprints. This has long been the mantra of sustainable travellers worldwide who aim to leave no trace while travelling the globe. This may include everything from picking up rubbish and sticking to marked footpaths to not interfering with wildlife or not taking souvenirs from natural environments.
So, there you have it, our top 10 tips for environmentally friendly travel. By breaking it down into smaller, actionable tasks and consciously thinking about your choices you will be more sustainable in no time!Let us know in the comments whether you’ve used any of these ideas while travelling or if you have some green tips that you think we should add to the list