There is a choice when travelling, and mass tourism is not the only one. To organise a sustainable international trip we can rely on making better decisions, such as sustainable transportation, eco-friendly accommodation or choosing ethical tours. The ultimate goal of ecotourism is to protect what’s more precious to us: this beautiful planet.
This year, we’ve spent all annual natural resources our Earth has to offer by July 29, 2019. With such a level of consumption, it takes 1.75 planets to produce enough resources for the needs of humanity. In addition, two billion people are living in poverty, while 735 million people living in poverty so extreme that their every day is a fight to survive.
Being sustainable is the only way we have to make a positive change and stop destroying the only home we have, and we should keep that in mind when making our decisions, even when it comes to planning for pleasure, such our next international trip abroad.
Many travelers want to be sustainable and eco-friendly, but find it hard to put this idea into action. If you’re one of them, here are a few tips to get you going.
One of the keys steps to being sustainable during your international trips lies in your packing list. You should make sure that all that you pack is environmentally friendly so that you can reduce your waste and negative impact on the surroundings to the minimum. Grab a pen and paper and take good note of the following must-haves in your packing list!
- Takeaway containers (Atlas & Ortus), beeswax wrap (Biome), reusable cutlery and bamboo straws (Yourstraw)
- Eco-friendly sunscreen
- Reusable coffee mugs (Keep Cup, Frank Green) and water bottle (Lifestraw)
- Solid shampoo bars and natural deodorant (Coconut Matter), bamboo toothbrush (The Toothbrush Project), zero waste razor (Rockwell Razors),
- Reusable bags (Onya)
These items don’t have to take a lot of your space in your suitcase, so there will be plenty left to pack your clothes and other items you might need.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that, when flying, every pound of luggage that a plan carries results in increased carbon emissions, so limit your clothes to what you can wear for a week.
Don’t forget to pack reusable water containers when getting ready for your trip. During your travel, you’ll be doing a lot of walking and sightseeing, so you’ll need water to keep yourself well hydrated.
Unless you have your own bottle which you can refill, you’ll be buying water packed in plastic bottles, which will eventually end up in trash cans, decomposing over the next 450 years in the landfills.
Bringing your reusable containers, cutlery, cups and all related with eating or drinking, when out and about buying take away on the street markets, you will be able to say “NO” to all sorts of plastic (and trust me, there is plenty out there).
Choose the Right Accommodation
When choosing your international trip destination, make sure you pick sustainable accommodation too. There are many great travel websites where you can find and book eco-friendly lodgings from luxury hotels to budget B&Bs, do make sure you do all you can to minimize your impact to the environment and at the same time support local communities and economies as well.
Sustainable accommodation options will usually encourage their guests to re-use their towels, and offer on-site recycling bins, refillable toiletries, room key-powered electricity, and other green solutions.
Choose Transportation Wisely
One of the important things to consider when organizing a sustainable trip abroad is the way you travel. Using public transportation, such as train, bus or ship is the first option you need to consider if it’s possible to fit this kind of transportation into your plans.
One of the least eco-friendly ways to travel is by plane unless you’re travelling on your own, as that’s much better than driving. If your destination is within your driving distance, and you’re traveling with your friends and your family, think about making a road trip, rather than flying. Plan ahead how to make driving internationally beneficial and safe, and make sure you’ve obtained your international driving permit and got familiar with traffic regulations in the destination of your choice.
Even if you’re taking a flight, you can do it with sustainably, and choose the airlines which use biofuel. If you rent a car at your holiday or business trip destination, protect the environment by opting for electric or hybrid vehicles. You can even go one step beyond, and consider cycling or walking as your preferred means of transportation once you’ve reached your location.
Be mindful about local communities you’re visiting when choosing your restaurants too. Even though your first choice and the safest bet can be an international food chain you love and are accustomed to, your trip can be a great opportunity to support the local economy and try out new food.
There are many great locally-owned restaurants serving traditional meals where you can get acquainted with the culture and customs of this area while encouraging local family businesses. Most local meals are prepared with the ingredients which they can find nearby, so less fuel was used for your meal to be delivered to your plate.
Waste No Resources
If you want to be protective about the environment of the destination you’re visiting, be respectful to its natural resources too, such as water and energy.
Take a 10-minute shower and use 25 gallons of water instead of wasting up to 25 gallons more, for an average bath. Save some more water by turning it off when shaving, or washing your teeth while in the shower. Pay attention to your energy consumption too, and turn devices off when you aren’t using them. Also, don’t forget to turn the lights off when you don’t need them – this simple gesture can remove 376 lb of CO2 emissions per year.
Respect the People
Learn ahead about the culture and the people who live there, so that you can be respectful towards their lifestyle, customs, and cultural differences. Each destination has its own environmental issues which you should be aware of to be able to support the positive change. In some countries, poverty is the biggest issue, some countries deal with severe violations of basic human rights, while others try to save their wildlife or to fight pollution. Prepare yourself in advance to make your visit beneficial.
Travelling responsibly and sustainably is one of the ways we can reduce the negative impact we have on the environment, and even bring some positive changes to the destination we are visiting. Where are you planning to travel next?