It can be easy to adopt a “leave it all behind” mentality upon entering a vacation or sporadic getaway. After all, with nothing but travel and exploration on your mind, why would you want to keep yourself rooted in the potentially stressful, monotonous aspects of your typical weekly routine? This approach is obviously justified in several ways. However, if you live a sustainable lifestyle, or are trying to implement sustainable habits into your schedule, it is important to continue these practices even while abroad. It may seem inconvenient at first, but sustainable travel can be a gateway to new and exciting experiences, all while contributing to the growing need for worldwide green living.
Here are a few easy ways to be a more sustainable traveler.
Follow a “leave no trace” approach
An easy way to make your next trip more sustainable is to base it on “leave no trace” style ventures. Many of these options involve traveling by foot or bike, in lieu of vehicle-based travel, and visiting areas that may be “off the beaten path” and separate from large city-based areas. For example, backpacking is an excellent way to explore new locations while cutting back on contributing to unneeded emissions. Whatever the outlet, keep your journey simple and you should barely leave a wake in terms of environmental harm.
Commit to mass transportation
If you are simply unable to reach certain areas by foot or some other basic means of travel, stick to public transportation options like subways or trains. This form of travel is not only proven to be more energy efficient, it should also save you money in the long run — not to mention provide you with the opportunity to meet new people. If anything, public transportation is a great way to challenge your comfort zone while ensuring your vacation is sticking to a sustainable agenda.
Avoid wildlife vendors
Tourism and novelty distribution usually go hand-in-hand — it is just part of the aesthetic in many popular travel locations. However, if you find yourself in such a shop, choose your souvenir or gift wisely. Specifically, a good rule of thumb is to avoid anything that consists of wildlife material. Common examples include dried, decorated sea creatures (shells, fish) and products made of animal fur. While many of these items may seem like great keepsakes based on a foreign ecosystem, in many cases they are actually the product of the illegal trading of rare and endangered species. Purchasing these products may directly support this practice, so it is better to just say no.
Research flight and cruise providers
Research shows that cruises and flights are two of the more unsustainable forms of faraway travel (especially cruises), but if your trip is contingent on such transportation, be sure to conduct research on your provider of choice and check if they implement sustainable practices. Whichever company you choose, be sure it is one that reflects a low carbon footprint when compared to other options.