You’ve probably heard of eco-tourism and sustainable traveling. It seems a weird combination. Traveling doesn’t seem to go together with a sustainable lifestyle, as traveling tends to be one of the most polluting activities of mankind. Airplanes, buses and cars are not only polluting for our planet, but especially for the local environment. Perhaps you can better stay home… Or try to travel as sustainable as possible. The following tips can help you to be more responsible and still be able to explore the world, have new experiences and pursue adventure.
8 tips for sustainable traveling
To following tips can help you to travel more environmental friendly in order not to damage the local environment too much and help local communities, cultures and economies.
- Stay close to home
Let me start with the most important rule if you want to travel sustainably: Stay close to home. Really! Every part of the world is beautiful, not only the parts that can be reached by airplane. Do you really think you’ve discovered de UK? The UK is extraordinary and surprisingly divers. The islands or Scotland, the mountains of Scotland, the midlands, London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Northern Ireland, Ireland, etc. There is sooooo much to see.
Or take a train toward France. Or a ferry towards The Netherlands.
Seriously, you don’t need a airplane to see the most beautiful places in the world, because they are close to home. You don’t even need a car of bus. Just take a train or ferry. Those are so much more environmental friendly ways to travel.
And seriously, there is a lot to see and to experience in just a few hundred miles from your house. And there is so much adventure waiting for you closer to home.
By not using that plane or other expensive mode of transport, but by staying a bit closer to home, you’ll save a lot of money that you can spend on way more trips and adventures.
You could also consider an eco-friendly hotel or eco-friendly hotel stay. It’s quite easy.
- Book a trip with a travel organisation that has a Fair Trade trademark
If you do want to travel far away (but seriously, don’t), take the following into account. You might not realise it, but there are travel agencies that are committed to environmental friendly travels. For example the agency FairTravel4u, that offers sustainable trips in Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru.
However, getting all the way to South America will cost you a very polluting airplane trip. Once you’re there, it is definitely a great thing to support the local community by staying in small hotels, eating at local restaurants and having local guides. This will also give you the best experience by far.
- Travel like a local
This brings us to point 2. No matter where you go, do as the locals do. I love the website With Locals, cause it allows you to interact, experience and see the city as a local does. The money you spend on these activities will ensure you that you spend your money locally, instead of globally.
- Take a better mode of transport
There are more ways to get somewhere than an airplane, car or bus. For example by foot. Backpacking is great fun and a certain way for adventure. Or go by bike, to get a bit further. A bus is also a fine mode of transportation to go to the European continent. I personally really like Flixbus as a more sustainable way of traveling long distances.
- Pay a bit more for you ticket to reduce your ecological footprint
If you do need to use a polluting mode of transportation, there are ways to reduce the resulting ecological footprint. Especially air travel has a high ecological footprint.
Some airlines offer the option to pay a bit extra as a way to compensate the CO2 emissions of your trip. This money will be invested into a fund that works on environmental and sustainable projects. For example: your money will be spend on planting trees in Panama. These trees will eventually purify the air, however not all the polluted air caused by your air travel.
- Choose environmental friendly activities that support the local community
There is a fine line between tourist activities that support the local community and local environment, and activities that destroy the local environment for the local community and future generations.
Instead of renting a car or scooter, you can go kayaking or cycling. Or instead of a huge resort you can choose for a small scale eco-friendly hotel. Or instead of eating at a global fast food chain, eat at a restaurant that is run by a local family. Try to be a responsible visitor that doesn’t destroy or damage the local environment. We wouldn’t want that in our own environment either.
- Use your own water bottle
Plastics are a horrible threat to nature. Sustainable traveling can be as simple as using your own sustainable water bottle. You can refill this bottle, perhaps with drinkable tap water (if available), instead of buying bottles water and throwing this plastic away.
Don’t consume more plastic waste than necessary. Especially small islands and third world countries do not have the waste recycling programs as we do. Your plastic waste will probably end up on a waste dump or in the oceans.
- Don’t do activities that harm humans, nature or animals
Clear as that. Avoid any activities or areas that don’t treat other humans, nature or animals in an irresponsible way.
You may assume that prostitution is involuntarily most of the time. Don’t go and watch prostitutes as if they are a tourist attraction. Don’t contribute in this way to this inhuman way of exploitation.
The same counts for animals. Any animals is suppose to be free. However, in many countries animals are used as tourist attraction. As long as tourists pay for riding an elephant of having pictures taken with lions, these animals will be exploited and tortured for the fun of it. Don’t support these horrible activities.
And don’t have the local natural environment. Clean up your own garbage and don’t destroy local nature. Be responsible! That’s the most sustainable you can be as a tourist.