Restless Bee

How To Travel Around The World Without Destroying It

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It’s never too late to begin thinking green.

The number of people trying to live greener, more environmentally-conscious lives grows every day. Most of us try to incorporate green practices into our daily routine so as to minimize our impact on the environment. So why do we always pack this habit away when we go on vacation?

Green vacations can be challenging to plan, but with a little research and planning it can be done. It’s important to start by deciding on the type of green vacation you would like to have. Some people may want to go for a cruise or stay in an eco-resort, while others may prefer to camp under the stars.You can also find eco-friendly activities wherever you go.

When planning a vacation, it is important to think about what you want to do. Eco-friendly travel offers many benefits, and it is neither expensive nor difficult.

A green vacation not only allows you to have fun while being responsible with the environment, but also allows you to have a deeper understanding of the places you have visited and their culture.

To make your next vacation greener, here are some tips.

Think about how you travel

Pretty much everyone knows these days that flying is not a green option. If you have a little extra time, why not take a train to your destination?

Most people now know that flying is not a green option; the carbon footprint of air travel is quite high. Flying is surely a really quick and easy way to get from point A to point B. But you have a bit more time on your hands, why not catch the train?

Trains have a surprisingly small carbon footprint and are a lovely way to travel. You get to see the sights as you go, making the journey itself just as important as the destination. If you can’t get to your destination by train, look for greener airlines when booking your flight.


If you and your family plan to travel by car or van, think about renting one of the many hybrid vehicles now on the market.This may help reduce your overall gasoline usage, which could potentially pay for the rental itself depending on the length of the trip.

Stay at hotels that are committed to preserving the environment.

Make sure that the hotel you choose has responsible policies, like daily recycling, composting and energy made from renewable sources such as solar or wind power.

Searching for a eco-friendly vacation destination is made easy on Ecohotels.com & Environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com   . You can search by location, property type, and property name to find the perfect spot away from home. You can also see what makes that particular destination environmentally responsible by reading/submitting reviews.

Before booking your hotel, check to see if the place has a green program. A lot of hotels provide tips and resources to guests while they’re staying with them so they can reduce their environmental impact. Some hotels even boast that they are members of a certain organization, like Green Seal or Green Leaf, which shows dedication to being eco-friendly.

Even if your hotel doesn’t have environmentally-friendly practices, you can make small adjustments to cut waste. Turn off lights when you leave the room, turn down thermostats, and minimize use of towels. Ask at the front desk if they offer recycling bins, and don’t hesitate to ask if they can reduce your daily cleaning service.

Choose destinations that are environmentally friendly.

You can also choose a destination that already has a good reputation for being environmentally responsible; Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks Costa Rica fifth on the list of the world’s top five countries when it comes to protecting the environment.

Instead of travelling all over the map during your holiday and keeping all of your luggage packed and ready to go, just pick a single destination – and stay there – for the duration of your trip.

If you plan on travelling abroad this summer, consider TIES’s definition of ecotourism: Responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustain the well-being of the local people, and involve interpretation and education. TIES has a list of destinations across the globe that meets its criteria available here. Green Global Travel is another great resource and provides its top recommendations here. 

 

Explore your destination on foot, by using public transportation or by bike.

Choose an eco-friendly tour operator that offers transportation that is sustainable, such as walking or biking tours instead of driving tours.

The Conserve Energy Future website reports that transportation is a significant contributor to global climate change, accounting for nearly 23 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.    Walking and cycling are by far the most environmentally responsible methods of transportation, but they are typically only suitable for short distances.For longer commutes, consider using public transportation.

When you arrive at your destination, stay in a hotel that offers easy access to public transportation. For areas with heavy foot or bus traffic, take a subway or bus line; if you have a car and are staying in a centralized location, consider using this alternative. Many hotels also offer access to hotel vans, which are great for exploring if your hotel is near most tourist destinations.


Whenever possible, take public transportation or walk around town.If you do rent a car, choose one of the more fuel-efficient models, and take alternative routes that avoid rush hour traffic.

Many cities offer walking tours or bike tours; there are also nature-based activities that support the environment, like surfing and boogie boarding at the beach.

On vacation, a walking tour of the local city is a great way to learn more about it and an exciting way to see it. A bicycle tour of the local countryside is also wonderful on a vacation.

Think local whenever you can.

When you support local businesses, you’re helping to keep the benefits of tourism within the local communities and helping local agriculture. You’re also reducing the need to outsource, which can have negative effects on the environment. When vacationing, consider gathering food from the local farmers market to cook in your condo kitchen, dine at restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients, or choose to buy souvenirs from local artisans instead of souvenir stands. All these options create a more vibrant trip – you experience the culture and history of the destination you’re visiting.

When you travel, do your best to live like a local. Not only is it a more sustainable way to vacation, but it’s also more fun and a great way to get to know new people and places.

Buying and eating locally help the regional economy by supporting a sustainable future. If a good is grown or produced locally, it reduces the carbon footprint of that item, since it doesn’t have to be shipped or packaged across the globe. When you support businesses in your community – rather than buying things from far away – you help sustain the local economy.

The following are two great resource sites for supporting sustainability in the area you visit:  Greenmap.org, dinegreen.com

Pick Green Activities

There are many earth-friendly things to do while on vacation. Consider getting away from the city every now and then and going to scenic places that have some picturesque outdoor activities to offer, such as snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, biking, and hiking.

When planning your trip, think about the wildlife and habitats you’ll be visiting and choose activities hosted by organizations who actively encourage and support conservation efforts. Take a look at the International Ecotourism Society’s website for ideas on how to find ethical eco-friendly travel attractions in the destination you’re interested in, such as a Marine Protected Area, an excursion led by a nonprofit or group that preserves landscapes and wildlife, or an activity that respects ecosystems and animals.

Check to see if they are a member of IES – which requires that their members follow certain criteria related to sustainability – or if they have other accreditations relevant to ecological practices.

All of these activities are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and can provide you with an opportunity to explore the destination you’re in.

Enjoy sightseeing, but be responsible.

As the saying goes, “take nothing but photographs, and leave nothing but footprints” .When you’re hiking.,stay on hiking trails and stay a safe distance from wildlife to keep the ecosystem well preserved.

When snorkeling or exploring the ocean, always leave the wildlife alone and don’t mess with them. And of course, always pick up your trash or take it with you when you leave the beach or park where you’ve been enjoying nature. These are great ways we help keep amazing places spectacular.

Choose biodegradable sunscreen.

Biodegradable sunscreen is the best way to protect our delicate coral reefs and marine wildlife. Traditional sunscreens contain harsh ingredients that wipe off easily during swimming, which pollutes the ocean and kills coral reefs.

Some places like Cancun and Cozumel have required tourists to use biodegradable sunscreens in order to help conserve their vibrant marine ecosystems.

Biodegradable sunscreens work just as well as traditional sunscreens, they simply break down more quickly when exposed to UV light.

Bring your green habits with you .

When you go on vacation, take steps to reduce your carbon footprint. 

At home, you can unplug appliances and turn down the thermostat to save energy. 

When you’re out of the house, try these tips:

  • Turn off your room lights.
  • Close the curtains at night and during the day when it’s sunny.
  • Use reusable water bottles instead of disposable ones.
  • Reuse towels and linens if possible.
  • Pack a lunch in reusable containers, or pack fruits and vegetables to eat without packaging.
  • Save paper napkins for later use; don’t use them one time only.
  • Make sure you buy reusable bags to bring when you shop.

Leave the place better than you found it.

It’s important to be mindful of the places you visit on vacation.
Make every day of your vacation count. Do something to leave the area a little better than you found it. Before you leave, clean up the area and try to preserve the beauty that attracted you to the place in the first place.
Donate money to a local environmental group or help at a beach cleanup. Attend a program that grows plants for the community or helps recycle and compost waste.


The saying ‘take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints’ is a good one—stick to it!

To reduce your carbon footprint, consider carbon offsets.

To reduce the impact of their carbon emissions, some travelers choose to purchase carbon offsets.

Carbon offsets are just what they sound like: a way for individuals and companies to theoretically offset the emissions they produce by contributing to projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere.

For an offset to be legitimate, it must be permanent, verifiable, and additional, meaning that this work would not have occurred without the money provided.


When choosing a carbon offset, make sure that it is legitimate—that the company is reputable, transparent and provides evidence of what happens with the money you pay.

Pack more carefully.

Before you head out on your trip, pack your bags more mindfully to minimize both your trip’s impact on environment and its financial cost.

Resist the temptation to buy a whole new wardrobe for your trip.

Shop secondhand for the items you need – like better shoes or more weather-appropriate clothing – or borrow from friends and family.

Likewise, instead of buying new travel-sized toiletries every time you head out on a trip, refill reusable (or already-used) travel bottles with body products to bring along. Or consider bringing along some bulk toiletries that don’t require packaging at all.

On a plane, a kilo counts! The more the plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces. If you pack only what you need, you’ll be helping the environment.

 

On vacation, it’s tempting to let go of the things we do for the planet every day.

But be sure to pack the waste-free supplies you use in your normal life: water bottles, to-go coffee mugs, grocery bags, straws, silverware, and napkins.

While traveling, you may encounter a lot of disposables—so make sure you have these items on hand so you don’t generate waste in your wake.

If space is a concern, check out collapsible options for silverware and beverage containers.

I hope that this article will help to provide you with some ideas of how to create a less harmful and more eco-friendly vacation.

For many people, taking care of the planet is an extremely important issue.

Though it may not be as fun as your regular vacations, green tourism can help you discover new ways to enjoy leisure time in a manner that protects both yourself and the environment around you.

And if you’re already an expert in green travel, please feel free to share your tips with me in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

As always, I’d love to hear from you.

DISCLOSURE: Restless Bee is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

 

 

Credit for the photos of this article:

Onlineprinters , Deepanker Verma , Charles Deluvio ,
Alexander Shatov , Ben Kolde , Alexander Shatov, Kelly Sikkema , Kari Shea

 

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erin

Great tips!! I always try to take some of our own reusable items (plates, cutlery, water bottles, coffee mug and reusable bags) and aim for carry on, but didn’t realize how the extra weight adds to carbon emissions!

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