Travel is the best way to truly appreciate all of the wonders of the world. From natural landscapes to man-made cities, there’s so much you could possibly see. You’d better act fast, though, because a number of places — from Venice, Italy, to the Galápagos Islands — are endangered due to climate change, deforestation and other sources of human devastation. And somewhat ironically, travel and tourism contribute to the destruction of the very places people are visiting. To address this, many people are taking steps to embark on more environmentally friendly travel.
You don’t necessarily have to rearrange your whole trip to embrace environmentally friendly travel. Here are a few steps you can take to lower your negative impact on the environment. We ordered them from the easiest to the hardest tasks to incorporate into your life, and we encourage you to think of your own eco-friendly ideas!
1. Pack Reusable Items, Not Disposable Ones
Traveling can involve a lot of disposable items. From travel-sized toiletries to the plastic water bottles people buy while walking around, it can add up to a lot of single-use trash. Whenever you can, try to find reusable items, including bags, water bottles and shampoo containers.
2. Public Transportation Is Your Friend
While ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have many indispensable uses, they’ve also put a lot of cars on the road and added to automobile pollution. It can be tempting to just call a car after a long day of walking around the city, but it’s definitely worth it to learn how to use the local public transportation. Not only is this better for the planet, but it’ll probably also save you money and make you a more resourceful tourist.
3. Find Environmentally Friendly Places To Stay
Hotels can be pretty horrendous for the surrounding environment. They’re massive buildings meant to house the population of a small town, and so it’s not too surprising that they can use huge amounts of water and energy. To help reduce their carbon footprint, some hotels are taking steps to incorporate reusable energy and cut down on waste. When you’re booking a hotel, it can be worth it to see which ones are doing the most to preserve the environment. You can also take advantage of some hotel programs that allow you to opt out of getting new towels every day, which cuts down on the water and energy used to wash them.
4. Know The Backstory About The Tours And Other Services You’re Booking
We’ve written before about how you should always try to look into the activities you’re booking because some companies don’t necessarily respect local cultures and history. The same goes for making sure the tours you’re going on actually care about the environments you’ll be visiting. Culture and environment go hand in hand, and you’ll want to find places to support both. (You can also scroll on down to tip 7 to learn about ecotourism.)
5. For Longer Stays, Learn About Local Recycling
If you’re going to be staying somewhere for a while, maybe even staying in an Airbnb, you can do a bit more research to partake in environmentally friendly travel. Every country handles recycling differently, and you’ll want to find out which items are actually recyclable and which aren’t. This can be a little tricky at first — it’s hard enough to keep track of what’s recyclable in your home country — but recycling is an important consideration.
6. Fly As Little As Possible
Flight is one of the most incredible accomplishments in all of human history. Unfortunately, planes are incredibly bad for the environment. We know it’s very hard to cut flying out entirely, but there are definitely ways to avoid it sometimes. If you can take a train instead, that’s almost always the more environmentally friendly travel option. And while we don’t want to tell you to not travel, avoiding transatlantic flights when they’re not necessary is one of the better things you can do for the planet.
7. Build Your Trip Around The Environment
Really want to make a commitment to a trip that’s good for the environment? Then you might want to explore the growing landscape of ecotourism. Ecotourism is about designing trips that benefit both the tourists and the places and people being visited. You can travel to some of the most beautiful places on earth and learn about the efforts being made to conserve them. If you can, this is your best option to appreciate the world around you and do your part to make sure there’s still a world to appreciate a century from now.