HOW TO TRAVEL GREEN
The idea of traveling to a distant paradise to bask in the sun on a pristine beach or visiting monuments in other countries to learn about foreign history is something many of us look for in an ideal vacation. However, no matter how romanticized going on vacations may be, it is important to be aware of the potential negative impacts that may come as consequences of traveling.
Today, the tourism industry is responsible for 5% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. This is a significant amount purely from traveling, and it just goes to show how impactful our traveling decisions can be. Fortunately, people interested in traveling more sustainably (like you) are on the rise!
While not traveling at all would ultimately be the greenest choice, this is not very likely in our rapidly globalizing world. However, even making small changes to our individual travel decisions can reduce the amount of impact we collectively have on the environment. As a start, here are some easy tips on how to travel more sustainably:
CHOOSE THE MOST DIRECT FLIGHT ROUTES
When flying is necessary for your travel itinerary, look for flights with the least numbers of transfers when possible. Airplanes produce twice as much carbon emissions during takeoff/landing cycles as opposed to when they are just cruising in the air. This means that indirect flights to the same end destination will lead to a lot more carbon emissions as compared to a direct flight due to longer flight times and more takeoff/landing cycles. In addition, taking more direct flights will also save you travel time and avoid needs to stay overnight at airport hotels!
CHOOSE ECO-CONSCIOUS HOTELS
When you book hotels, look out for hotels focused on going green or supporting ethical practices. Examples of their missions may range from reducing energy consumption and water usage to ensuring quality work standards for their employees. However, to avoid hotels that practice “greenwashing” (where they call themselves “green” without actually living up to their claimed standards), look for eco-labels or certifications from third parties indicating their dedication to the environment and community.
WALK/BIKE OR USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Walking and biking are not only beneficial for personal health, they are also the most eco-friendly modes of traveling within a city. For longer distances, however, walking and biking are less practical. In these cases, seek public transportation alternatives such as taking local buses, which can help reduce CO2 emissions by up to 50% as opposed to taking private cars or taxis. In addition, it can be a better way to immerse into the local culture as well and understand the layout of the city better. If public transportations are not reliable and you have decided to rent a car, look to rent smaller cars or even hybrid cars.
SIMPLIFY YOUR PACKING LIST
For your personal convenience and for reducing emissions from your flights or car rides, pack lighter suitcases! Simplify your travel wardrobe and needs as much as possible to just your necessities, as this will help you be more eco-friendly, be less stressed out about transporting around a gigantic and heavy luggage, and decrease risks of losing more of your valued personal goods at once.
BRING REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES AND SHOPPING BAGS
Bring reusable water bottles and shopping bags with you wherever you go (even back at home!). This can drastically reduce your contributions to waste from plastic bottles and plastic bags while decreasing your health risks from coming in contact with toxic chemicals associated with plastic.
Eco escapes and travel log by Simon Smedberg, who is the Co-Founder of Glooby, a free travel search site dedicated to comparing 500,000+ hotels and millions of flights around the world based on each of their environmental impacts and sustainability features.