As the world becomes increasingly aware of the implications of our actions on the environment and looks for ways that we can change our habits to become greener, one area where most of us can improve is in travel.
As a global population, we have never travelled as much as we do today, and whilst there are many benefits to travelling the world, seeing new cultures, meeting other people from other walks of life and seeing some of the wonders of the world, this appears to be coming at the price of the environment.
Travelling, by definition, is usually fuel heavy and wasteful, whilst most people also neglect their green habits when they aren’t at home.
If you are concerned about becoming a greener traveller, here are some ideas that you can consider:
1. Travel method
Flying is a very wasteful way to travel. Aside from the fact that you will almost certainly be travelling longer distances by plane, it is also important to remember that planes are extremely unfriendly to the environment – especially the taking off and landing parts. In fact, short flights are actually more wasteful than longer ones. If you do need to fly, try to book non-stop flights and with airline companies who are members of the IATA (International Air Transport Association) Carbon Offset program.
If you are going shorter distances, it is worth looking into other modes of transport such as train or coach. Europe has an excellent train network, which, although it might be more expensive, can be enjoyable, extend your holiday and make you see new places.
Another option would be travelling by coach. This kind of travel is much more comfortable than it used to be. You could either travel to a destination by coach or take an organised coach trip with companies like Just Go Holidays, who can take you to places of historical interest, stunning natural beauty or other interesting places in the UK and Europe.
Whilst you are away, try to avoid big resorts that can be wasteful and less supportive of the local communities. Smaller B&Bs or eco-hostels or lodges will usually be more aware of their impact on the environment. They may also be more aware of things like not having to wash towels every day, using eco-friendly cleaning products and employing local people.
When you are considering where to stay whilst you are away, to be a true green traveller, you should ask potential places to stay about what they do to reduce their carbon footprint and to be eco-friendly.
3. Whilst you are away
Try to keep as many of your green habits going whilst you are away as you would at home. Recycling can be done in most countries as it is in the UK, try to avoid buying water and use a refillable bottle which can often be re-filled in public areas (depending on the country that you are in). Don’t drop litter. Try and support local communities and businesses. Avoid mass-produced, plastic tourist tatt. Eat in local restaurants. Don’t support businesses that exploit the local people or local wildlife. Enjoy the local wildlife but try not to interfere with their lives. Do you need that helicopter trip?
4. Do what the locals do
Although some of us do love our creature comforts, you don’t go away to eat our food and continue our habits. Whilst you are away, whilst obviously being conscious about the impact of what you do on the environment, try to mirror what the locals do. That means eating local food that hasn’t travelled around the world, taking cold showers if you are in a hot country, drinking the local tipple and taking the local transport, for example.
5. Electrical items
Although most places that you will visit will have electricity for you to use to charge your phone, camera and maybe even watch a film in the evening, in some places, electricity is valuable, and an influx of tourists can put an additional strain on the infrastructure. Think about having some peace and quiet and time away from your screen. If you can get away with having a ‘screen holiday’ this can be great for both you and the environment.
Being a ‘green traveller’ means being as conscientious as you can about the impact that everything that you do whilst on your travels is as environmentally friendly as possible. From the way that you are travelling, to where you choose to go (which economies that you are supporting), where you stay and what you do whilst you are there.
It is more important now that we do what we can to look after the planet than it ever has been, and by changing our travel habits, we can go a long way in having an impact.
Top image by JK on Unsplash