With many travellers worried about the state of the world and the environment, now is the perfect time to think about environmentally conscious travel. You don’t have to give up yearly holidays if you want to protect the environment; far from it, in fact – you just have to think carefully about how you travel and what kind of methods you use. By minimising your environmental impact and maximising your efforts to use environmentally friendly travel methods, you can travel in an eco-friendly way. Here’s a beginner’s guide to environmentally conscious travel.
Don’t pack too heavy
Packing a lot of things into a suitcase can add a surprising amount of weight to a plane or other vehicle, which in turn increases its fuel consumption. Naturally, this will have a negative effect on the environment, so one easy way to reduce your environmental impact when travelling is simply to pack light. Only pack the things you’re absolutely sure you’ll need so that you don’t overburden the luggage compartment with things that aren’t strictly necessary for your trip.
Look carefully for travel companies’ environmental credentials
When you’re deciding who you want to travel with, consider their credentials carefully. Are they committed to reducing waste and increasing fuel economy? If not, then you might want to think twice about whether you want to travel with them. Any self-respecting environmentally-friendly company will foreground everything they’re doing to minimise their environmental impact, and if you don’t see that information clearly displayed, then there could be a good reason for that.
Don’t leave waste
When you travel, it’s important not to leave waste behind. Whatever you do, do not litter; this is a good rule to follow in general, but it’s especially important when you’re travelling. When you’re done with packaging or other waste items, make sure to find the appropriate receptacle to put them in, whether that’s a rubbish bin or a recycling box. If you leave waste behind, then you’re directly contributing to the problem of environmental destruction. It might sound over-the-top, but it’s true.
This might not be something you want to hear, but the fact is that any travel, whether it’s eco-friendly or not, is less eco-friendly than simply not travelling at all. As such, you should think carefully about whether or not you absolutely need to travel. If you’ve already taken a holiday this year, then do you need to take another? Naturally, travelling for work is a different matter, but even then, ask your employer (assuming you have a good relationship with them) whether there are any more eco-friendly alternatives.
Camping is one of the more environmentally friendly holiday methods, so if you’re going somewhere with a temperate climate, you may wish to consider camping. It uses far less energy than staying in a hotel would, for obvious reasons, and it can be a character-building, eye-opening holiday as well. Just make sure that when you depart your campsite – whether it’s a communal site or a solitary one – you leave it in the manner in which you found it.
Many holiday destinations around the world are bicycle-friendly, so think about cycling if you’re going abroad. Countries like the Netherlands are arguably built for cycling; they have a strong, robust infrastructure for bikes, so it’s almost more fun to travel in this way than to take public transport. A lot of places will also have bike hire programs that you can take advantage of, so even if you’re not able to take your own bike, that doesn’t mean you can’t cycle. If this isn’t an option, then consider walking!
Don’t take cruises
If environmental concerns are at the top of your list when it comes to holidays, then cruises are a very bad idea indeed. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, cruises are usually environmentally devastating in and of themselves due to the amount of power the ship consumes as it sails. Secondly, the communities that live around the ports at which cruises dock rarely benefit from passengers’ patronage because cruises usually provide all necessary amenities. Think twice before you book a cruise.
Say no to first-class flight
Of course, everyone wants to be comfortable when they fly, but the fact is that first-class flight isn’t a good idea if you’re thinking about the environment. This is because first-class passengers use more resources relative to the space they’re taking up; that’s the price you’re paying for increased comfort. If you can avoid flying, then you should do so altogether, because flying is one of the most environmentally damaging ways to travel. If you absolutely must fly, just don’t book first-class.
Don’t hike off the beaten path
There’s a good reason that hiking paths are marked out the way they are. In many cases, it’s to ensure your safety; after all, you don’t want to get mauled by a wild animal that makes its home not far off the track. Another reason hiking trails are marked, however, is that you may be damaging important flora or fauna if you wander off the path. The trails also help to stop tourists from littering or damaging the landscape where guides can’t see them and thus rectify their mistakes.
You might think that budget airlines are more environmentally damaging than those that cost a little more, but this simply isn’t true. Budget airlines and luxury airlines use the exact same fuel for the most part, but budget airlines are able to fit more passengers into a single flight. This means that the overall carbon emissions of that flight relative to efficiency are much lower, so if you’re thinking about the environment, make sure you’re booking budget (if you have to fly, of course).