Karen K.C. Dermody / Jun 23

8 Ways You Can Travel More Sustainably

Karen K.C. Dermody / Jun 23

The travel industry contributes many positive aspects to society, including nearly 10 percent of jobs in the U.S. But the negative effects, from the significant use of fossil fuels required for flying to a lack of tourism dollars that benefit local communities, are a big concern. 

If you’d like to lower your carbon footprint, the general rule is that the shorter distance you travel from home. Fortunately, when you want or need to go beyond a city nearby, there are ways to travel more sustainably. 

Choose Sustainable Destinations

One of the first things to consider is the destination. By choosing a more sustainable place to visit, you’ll help reduce the environmental impact and enjoy a more locally-relevant experience. While there are many good choices, the top-ranked are often found in Europe, including Slovenia, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and France, but Costa Rica, Bolivia, Canada, and New Zealand are also among the best. 

If you plan to spend time on a coast, consider a place with a marine protected area that ensures the local community is involved in protecting aquatic life and landscapes. 

Avoid Flying For Shorter Distances

If you’re planning to visit a destination that’s within 8 hours or so of home, avoid flying as driving is the greener way to go, assuming you drive a fuel-efficient car. Even better if it’s a hybrid or electric vehicle. For example, while there are plenty of flights between Boston and Philadelphia, the drive is just five hours and would generate approximately 104 kg of carbon dioxide. If you fly, it would be 184 kg for each passenger. Keep in mind that the shorter the distance flown, the less efficient it is. 

Another option is the train. Trains emit the lowest level of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants while providing the chance to enjoy slow travel. Instead of focusing on the road, you can read a book, work online, or relax while enjoying the passing landscapes. 

Pack a Reusable Water Filtered Bottle

When it’s time to pack, consider your consumption of plastic. One of the most common plastic items used by tourists is the single-use water bottle. You can make a significant difference when it comes to impact on the environment by bringing your own reusable water bottle. 

Every year, some eight million metric tons of plastic end up in our planet’s oceans and in overflowing landfills where they can remain for hundreds of years. By packing the reusable water filtering bottle + PureVis cap you can enjoy guilt-free, pure, tasty water wherever you go. This one helps you filter water (like bottled water without the waste) and eliminate bio-contaminants so you have peace of mind while drinking from various water sources in different countries.  

Avoid Other Single-Use Items Too

Don’t forget about all of those other single-use items, particularly when it comes to dining and drinking. By bringing a small container for snacks and reusable cutlery, you can further reduce your consumption of plastic. Reusable straws are a must as those plastic straws are known to pollute our seas and harm wildlife.

Search for Local Experiences

Rather than signing up for tours with large national or international companies, search for local experiences. For example, local guides and outfitters based in the destination will help ensure that your money gets back into the local economy.

Ditch the Resort and Choose a Stay Hosted by a Local

Where you spend has a direct impact on the communities you visit – it’s up to you to decide whether it will be positive or negative, which means you’ll want to consider your accommodation too. Bali is just one example. Here, younger generations have been abandoning agricultural traditions like rice farming for careers in hotel or resort management. When you stay at one of those luxury beachfront resorts, you’re encouraging the trend.

By booking a small, family-run guesthouse, perhaps taking a guided tour of a rice field or coffee plantation led by a family member or a local worker too, it will help remind the island’s youth as to how important their culture is, encouraging them to keep family businesses alive.

Carefully Consider Local Transport

When you’re at your destination, how you’ll get around will play an important part in how high or low your carbon footprint will be. As transport is one of the biggest emitters of harmful pollutants, you can leave a lighter footprint by walking or biking to get to where you want to go. Instead of a driving tour, take a tour on foot or via two wheels. Sail instead of taking an engine-powered boat when out on the water.

Take public transport whenever possible, but if you have to rent a car, choose the smallest possible vehicle and consider electric if it’s available. 

Offset Your Carbon Footprint

In addition to doing everything you can to minimize your energy usage, consider compensating for the inevitable greenhouse gas emissions by carbon offsetting. This allows you to help balance your carbon footprint when traveling by reducing emissions somewhere else. 

Use a free online carbon calculator and once you get the result, click “Offset.” Purchase offsets are equivalent to the amount of CO2 you produced and the money from it will be invested in projects, such as protecting a tropical rainforest, that will reduce greenhouse gasses like carbon. They can also create other benefits beyond emission reduction, like conserving endangered species and creating local jobs.