The Sustainable Travel Guidebook for the Eco-Friendly Traveler

As climate change continues to dominate global conversations and claim its title as one of the most pressing issues of the modern age, many industries are looking to switch to eco-friendly alternatives and stray away from traditional practices.

Despite eCommerce companies that continue to dump plastic and cardboard packaging into landfills, today, the industry giant with the most sizable carbon footprint is the tourism industry. Between incessant purchasing of single-use travel-sized toiletries and harmful transportation methods, travelers’ carbon footprints can swell in size and continue to demolish delicate ecosystems.

Despite how environmentally detrimental traditional tourism practices are, many travelers and propelling forces of the tourism industry are unwilling to shop for more eco-friendly options due to an abundance of common misconceptions surrounding sustainable tourism. If people of this planet do not actively participate in its healing, Earth’s temperature will continue to climb, with more catastrophes that will result in deaths by the thousands. If you want to help change the world, start now by learning from Viable Outreach.

As vacation-goers continue to subscribe to myths that eco-friendly tourism is more expensive and there’s no such thing as sustainable travel by plane, several beliefs dissuade businesses and frequent travelers from committing to environmentally-safe tourism practices. Luckily, these beliefs aren’t rooted in fact. In contrast, sustainable travel requires minimal effort and rarely features additional expenses. Little things do matter, no matter how impossible that may sound. If you think that using travel pillows with buckwheat hulls won’t change anything, you’re thinking wrongly.  Buckwheat hulls are one of the most eco-friendly materials for manufacturing pillows today. It’s also far better than using travel pillows with synthetic fillings.

Consider alternate transportation

Studies show that travel by plane and car, the two most popular means of travel, makes up about 90 percent of the total transportation impact on climate change. Airplanes alone are the number one polluters and contribute to about two percent of the world’s total carbon emissions.

When traveling, boats and trains are the two best alternatives to flying or driving. Unbeknownst to many vacation-goers, driving is more eco-friendly than flying, especially if you have multiple passengers along for the adventure.

While affordable, sustainable travel may require a little bit of creativity and active out-of-the-box thinking. For example, suppose you’re embarking on a long-term or extended vacation. In that case, you may consider shipping your car to your vacation spot of choice. That way, tourists can drive to each tourist attraction that’s earned a place on your itinerary.

In European countries, you may consider taking advantage of affordable ticket prices and hopping from bordering country to border country. If travel via train doesn’t appeal to your sustainability-oriented train of thought, driving to your destination is a more sustainable option over air travel. That said, consider requesting car shipping quotes from multiple reputable auto transportation providers to see if this eco-friendly transportation alternative is feasible for you and your unique travel situation.

If you’re driving, opting to fuel up using cheaper gas may result in high carbon emissions for your vehicle. Choosing the more premium option or even biodiesel may cost you a little more, but at least there’s less harm to the planet.

Choose sustainable destinations

When planning your next sustainable vacation, it may be prudent to choose a destination that shares the same eco-friendly values. European nations like Switzerland, France, and Denmark rank highly on the list of sustainable nations, based on metrics that determine how well countries respond to every nation’s environmental challenges.

By vacationing in a place that values sustainability and immersing yourself in the local culture, you’ll actively support eco-friendly practices and contribute to local workers’ livelihoods.

Pack with the environment in mind

The first place we can look to help offset our carbon footprint when traveling is by opting for travel gear that is made from sustainable materials. For example, modern eco-friendly backpacks are made from a whole host of innovative materials such as recycled plastics.

Better still, many makers have a policy where, not only are their products made from sustainable materials, but they go one step further by cleaning up certain parts of the planet for every new product sold. And it’s not just backpacks where you can help make a difference, it’s everything right through from your shoes to your clothes as well.

Purchasing reusable travel products can cut down dramatically on the waste that gathers dust in growing landfills for years, polluting formerly balanced environments. You can buy several reusable products that can successfully replace single-use products that may only last you one trip.

Packing a reusable water bottle will eliminate the need to purchase plastic water bottles when you’re out and about on vacation. Additionally, investing in packs of refillable toiletry bottles will allow vacation-goers to limit the travel-sized hygiene monopolizing space in their carry-ons.

While many of these products are recyclable, the reality is that 91 percent of plastics aren’t recycled and become trash, clogging fragile ecosystems and threatening vulnerable animal species. By acquiring reusable travel products, not only will you save money, but you’ll help cut down on the waste that is so detrimental to our environment.

You may also want to try using biodegradable plastic bags instead of regular ones. When driving, consider packing light and asking everyone on the trip with you to do the same, too. Fully loaded cars require more fuel to run, so this won’t help with the efficient running of the car’s engine. You’ll also be inclined to make more stops to refuel.  

Book eco-friendly excursions

When taking tours and participating in local recreation, research the companies you’re booking through and ensure that your money benefits the community. To maintain your status as an ethical tourist, verify that the experiences you’re participating in have a low impact on the local ecosystem. By taking these steps, you can make priceless memories with loved ones while serving residents’ best interests. Remember, genuinely sustainable tourism leaves these vacation spots in the same if not better condition than tourists found them.

If you have kids with you, it would also be best to educate them about this practice and open their minds to the potential of healing the planet by taking small necessary steps. The small steps you take today are for their future anyway.

The bottom line

Keeping the well-being of the environment in mind as you travel doesn’t just benefit the climate. Being an eco-conscious traveler means that the experiences you acquire as a tourist are genuine and fulfilling. Ultimately, the money you spend on your travels should stimulate the local economies and leaves the world a better place in more ways than one.

Additionally, if more than one person sees how well-meaning you are, you might inspire a positive change in others. This could lead to a ripple effect that drives the consciousness of many people to do as you did.

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