As enriching as travelling can be, irresponsible tourism is harmful to the environment. Transport alone accounted for 37% of carbon emissions in 2021 according to statistics from the IEA. That’s not to mention overcrowding and the waste left behind by tourists. Fortunately, a few sustainable travel tips can go a long way.
You don’t need to feel guilty about travelling - simply learn to travel more responsibly. Every little bit you can do to help the environment and local communities goes a long way. If you want to get serious about sustainable travel, you can even look into carbon offsetting, ecotourism, and regenerative travel.
With that said, even a few small changes can help you greatly reduce your environmental impact. Here are five simple sustainable travel tips to help you travel responsibly.
1. Choose Efficient Modes Of Transport
One simple sustainable travel tip that’s easy to implement is to choose efficient modes of transport. Although taking a plane is unavoidable if you want to travel across the world, the daily transport you choose can make a massive difference.
Choosing public transport over frequent car rides can go a long way to reducing your carbon footprint. It also helps with decongestion. Check out the local bus or tram system whenever you hit a new destination. Consider taking trains for your day trips or for moving to new locations. When these modes of transport aren’t suitable options, ridesharing can also help.
If you’re looking for an extra-sustainable option, consider walking or hiring a bike for your day-to-day adventures. It’s a great way to stay fit, enjoy the scenery, and avoid environmental harm. Many places also offer electric vehicle rentals, so look out for e-scooters and e-bikes in each destination. These can help you cover short to medium distances fast and they’re great fun to ride.
2. Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Single-use plastics are terrible for the environment. Research shows that over 90% of plastics end up in landfills, incinerated, or simply left on the ground as litter. Many destinations that suffer from over-tourism also suffer from discarded water bottles, food packaging, and other plastic products left behind by tourists.
That’s why one of the best ways to travel more responsibly is to avoid single-use plastics wherever possible. Getting a reusable water bottle can go a long way. Stainless steel bottles are particularly popular, but you can also find bamboo bottles and flasks. Not only can these help you keep your water cool while you’re travelling, but you can also use them for coffee, juice, and other drinks.
A reusable bag can also go a long way. Simply stuff one in your pocket or water bottle pouch and you can grab it whenever you need it. You might even want to take a reusable straw, reusable cutlery, or other reusable travel accessories with you. It also helps to look out for products that use recycled fabrics. This is another one of the best sustainable travel tips that anyone can use.
3. Try Slow Travel
Many travellers want to pack as many places in one trip as possible. Although this can be a great way to see more, it can also lead to greater carbon emissions and more waste - not to mention more stress. Focusing on slow-paced travel is one of the best sustainable travel tips you can use to avoid these problems.
For instance, let’s say you’re planning a trip around Europe. Flying between countries every two days can swiftly result in greater emissions. Staying for a week in each destination and taking the train between cities is often a better choice. You’ll save money, reduce your travel stress, and even have time to enjoy each location more.
Another unsung benefit of slow travel is that you often end up leaving less waste behind. Constantly flying between countries often results in you constantly abandoning and rebuying all kinds of things from water bottles to toiletries. Settling in one location for a few weeks makes it easier to reuse, recycle, and reduce waste in general.
4. Be Mindful Of Your Energy Usage
While people often use every trick in the book to reduce their energy usage, this often goes out the window when they’re on holiday. When you’re staying in a lavish hotel or a fancy Airbnb, it’s tempting to take long baths and keep the A/C on all day. However, even while you’re on holiday, you can make a big impact by using energy responsibly.
You can still have a perfectly comfortable and enjoyable holiday while limiting your energy use. Simply remembering to turn off the lights and A/C whenever you leave your accommodation can help. Reusing your towels and linens in hotels can also help out.
Simply being mindful of these things is great for sustainable travel. Not only do you reduce your environmental impact, but apartment owners and hotel staff will greatly appreciate your efforts. It also helps to unplug your electronics, turn the lights off, and reduce the power of your fridge at home before you leave.
5. Use Sustainable Travel Products
Even the travel products you buy can help with sustainable travel. Naturally, it helps to pick up accessories that help with sustainability, such as reusable bottles and carrier bags. However, even decisions such as the clothes you purchase, the backpack you choose, and the brands you buy from can make a difference.
Instead of buying cheap clothes for travelling, look for durable clothes made with sustainable fabrics. It helps the environment and leads to less waste - especially as well-made clothes will last for much longer. The same applies to travel bags. Instead of buying a cheap rucksack that you’ll have to replace in a year, look for a high-quality travel backpack that’s built to last.
Many travel brands now make sustainability a key priority. For example, at ALPAKA we create long-lasting travel products, with partly or 100% recycled fabrics. We're currently working on packaging and shipping our gear in sustainable packaging. We also contribute 1% of our earnings to NGOs that help the planet and plant thousands of trees a year with the One Tree Planted program.
You don’t need to abandon your travel plans to help the planet. Using these sustainable travel tips and making responsible decisions can help you become a more eco-friendly traveler. Try implementing these strategies the next time you travel and, soon enough, sustainable travel will become second nature. You can also find a range of products designed for responsible travel at ALPAKA.