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Travel helps us to grow as people, to experience other cultures and to appreciate our unique humanness, but if we aren't careful travel can be destructive to the very places that we travel so far to see.

Sustainable tourism is more than just a buzzword; it's a commitment to preserving the natural, cultural, and social fabric of our planet's precious destinations. 

It’s about supporting local economies, reducing our environmental footprint, and fostering practices that leave a positive impact. 

As you plan your next adventure, keep in mind these key principles of sustainable travel that can transform your journeys into responsible experiences. 

Continue reading to learn 8 of our top tips for sustainable travel. Start making a difference, one destination at a time.

sustainable travel

1. Travel in the Slow Lane

In a world often obsessed with speed and efficiency, there's something profoundly rewarding about slowing down and savouring the journey. When you choose to travel by land, whether by bus or train, you embark on a voyage that not only reduces your carbon footprint but also deepens the sense of adventure.

Long-distance flights, especially when crossing continents, are often a necessity. Yet, once you've reached your destination continent, the world opens up to a vast network of trains, buses, and public transportation. 

These typically have a lower carbon footprint per passenger mile compared to aeroplanes. 

Benefits of land travel

It also offers you a unique perspective on the landscapes and cultures you encounter. 

Witness remote towns, picturesque countryside, and the daily lives of locals. Make impromptu stops, spend a few nights in a cosy hostel, and explore places that may not be on the tourist radar. 

It's a chance to follow your curiosity and let serendipity guide your way. While land-based travel might initially seem more time-consuming or expensive, it's all about shifting your perspective. When you view the journey as an integral part of your travel experience, it transforms into a thrilling adventure. 

sustainable travel

2. Unearth the Treasures in Your Own Back Garden

While the allure of far-flung destinations is undeniable, sometimes the best experiences are right on your doorstep.

 Exploring your local surroundings not only reduces your carbon footprint but also reveals hidden gems you may have overlooked.

Here are some ideas to get those creative cogs turning:

  • Museums and Galleries for a weekend staycation. Take a stroll through the hallowed halls of your local museums and art galleries.
  • Cafes and Coffee Shops provide a cosy and welcoming atmosphere, making them perfect spots for relaxation and contemplative moments. Plus, supporting local businesses fuels your community's vitality.
  • Nature's wonders are closer than you think. Seek out nearby hiking, biking, or camping spots. From lush forests to tranquil lakeshores, these natural retreats provide a rejuvenating escape from daily life.
  • Many areas boast vineyards and wineries offering tours and tastings. Sip on local vintages while learning about the intricate process of winemaking. It's a delightful way to support local agriculture and savour the essence of your locale.
  • If your region is blessed with coastlines, make it a mission to explore every beach within driving distance. Each sandy shore has its charm, from serene coves to bustling boardwalks. Pack a picnic, embrace the salty breeze, and immerse yourself in the excitement of somewhere you haven’t been before!

sustainable travel

3. Use Your Legs

The best transport you can ever find is your own two legs. It's free, it's healthy and you can move at your own pace. 

It's the best way to get lost and discover local spots and hidden treasures that go beyond your usual tourist traps. 

Or if you are feeling athletic grab an electric bike and get riding. Bikes allow you to cover more ground than walking, yet with minimal environmental impact. Follow your nose and feel the freedom! 

Minimise your impact on the environment while maximising your connection to the world around you. 

It's about savouring every moment, from the gentle rhythm of your footsteps to the wind in your hair as you pedal along. Each step becomes a part of your journey, leading you to unexpected adventures.

sustainable travel

4. Offset Your Carbon Footprint

Travelling by air can be a necessity, especially for long-distance journeys, but it often comes with a significant carbon footprint. 

However, as responsible travellers, there are steps we can take to mitigate the environmental impact of our flights. 

Consider offsetting your carbon emissions by putting money aside to fund sustainability projects that help reduce or capture the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emissions your flight generates. 

By supporting such initiatives, you're essentially balancing out the carbon emissions created by your travel. 

It's important to acknowledge that carbon offsets are not a silver bullet solution to the climate crisis. They are just one piece of the puzzle. 

Critics often argue that offsets shouldn't be used as an excuse for continued carbon-intensive activities. While this criticism has merit, it's essential to view carbon offsets as part of a broader strategy for addressing climate change. 

They may not solve the problem on their own, but they play a valuable role in our collective efforts to combat the larger issues we face.

sustainable travel

5. Pack Lighter

Excess weight burns excess fuel. Sticking to one bag will not only cut down on fuel consumption when flying but also on hassle for you. 

It doesn't seem like it would make much difference but just imagine if everyone reading this cut their luggage to just one bag, collectively we would save a lot of unnecessary fuel from being burnt. 

Not to mention that if you aren't able to carry everything that you’ve packed easily on your person, your options will be limited as to whether you can take public transport. This leads to an increase in taxis taken, which is not ideal for the planet or your wallet. 

When thinking about what to pack, aim to create a capsule wardrobe where all the colours work harmoniously and you can wear anything with anything. 

Efficient packing isn't just about saving space; it can also save you from checking your luggage on your flight!

sustainable travel

6. Be mindful of your toiletries 

One often overlooked aspect of eco-friendly travelling is the toiletries that we carry. 

By making mindful choices in this area, we can help to protect a country's ecosystems and safeguard their natural beauty. Many popular toiletry brands contain harsh chemicals and pollutants that can wreak havoc on delicate ecosystems. 

Aerosol cans, face and body wash with microbeads, and sulfate-laden shampoos are prime culprits. When travelling to places with limited sanitation infrastructure, these pollutants are more likely to end up where they shouldn't be, harming the environment and local wildlife.

It's better to be safe than sorry! So why not opt for biodegradable toiletries? 

These products are formulated with ingredients that won't linger in the environment, preserving the purity of the landscapes you explore. Instead of purchasing single-use travel-sized toiletries, consider investing in refillable bottles or using bars of soap and shampoo instead of liquid. 

These not only save on weight but also reduce plastic waste, minimising your environmental footprint.

7. Eat Local, Stay Local!

Food is a gateway to culture, and by indulging in local cuisine, you not only tantalize your taste buds but also bolster the local economy. 

Avoid international chains and seek out restaurants and food markets that serve dishes made from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. 

This supports local farmers and reduces the carbon footprint associated with transporting food over long distances. 

Moreover, the authenticity of these culinary experiences can provide you with a deeper understanding of the place you're visiting. 

Your choice of accommodation can also make a substantial impact on the carbon footprint of your travels. Opt for lodgings that prioritize sustainability, such as eco-friendly hotels, guesthouses, or even homestays. These options often engage in responsible practices like waste reduction, and energy conservation, and support local suppliers, ensuring your stay leaves a positive footprint.

sustainable travel

8. Support the Local Economy

As conscious travellers, we hold in our hands the opportunity to contribute positively to the livelihoods of the people in the communities we visit. 

Step away from the well-trodden path of touristy shops with generic merchandise. These establishments often contribute little to the local community and seldom showcase the authentic spirit of a place. 

Instead, venture further afield to discover hidden boutiques and markets, where you'll find treasures that resonate with the region's identity. 

When shopping opt for handmade goods and local crafts. These unique creations often reflect the heart and soul of the region, offering a genuine connection to the culture. 

Take it a step further by buying from women-owned businesses to invest in the growth and equality of these communities.

Prioritise businesses and initiatives that align with your values, whether it's environmental sustainability, ethical practices, or community development. 

sustainable travel

Your dollars can shape a brighter future for the places you explore.

By consciously supporting local businesses, artisans, and sustainable practices, you become an integral part of the places you visit. 

As we conclude our exploration of sustainable travel tips, remember that our choices matter. 

They matter to the environment, to the local communities we visit, and to the legacy we leave for future generations.

Sustainable tourism is not about sacrifice; it's about developing a more profound and involved connection with the world around you.

 It's about understanding that our travels have the power to uplift, educate, and inspire, both us and those we meet along the way. 

So, let us venture forth with open hearts and mindful steps, knowing that each choice we make can be a testament to our commitment to a better, more conscious world. 

sustainable travel