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How to be sustainable while you travel

How to travel the planet and help save it too.

Whether you decide to call it travelling green, ecotourism or ethical travel, keeping a mindful attitude while trekking across the globe will help to minimise your carbon footprint. Every action towards sustainable travel will directly impact the environment.

Sustainable travel means finding a way that tourism can be maintained in the long-term without damaging natural and cultural environments. It should minimise all the negative impacts that tourism can bring and be beneficial to the area in which it’s taking place.

The World Tourism Organization describes sustainable travel as ‘development which meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future.’

Here are some ways you can be more of sustainable traveller. Consider these steps:

Leave no trace

Help protect the long term health of the natural world by practising what’s known as the seven principles of ‘leave no trace’:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimise campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of your hosts and other visitors

Green your holiday

The first questions on every traveller’s mind is – where to go? When it comes to deciding your next location, check out the country’s track record. The Ethical Traveller conduct an annual survey on the world’s best and ethical destinations based on the level of environmental protection and respect for human rights.

Another thing to consider is to travel less but stay longer in a destination, and reduce your carbon footprint by booking an itinerary with fewer flight connections. Did you know that taking off and landing is what uses the most fuel? When arriving at your destination, go by foot or bike wherever possible and use public transport to get around round instead of private cars.

When it comes to looking for accommodation, opt for staying in local areas among locals, or scan the internet for locally owned guesthouses. Alternatively, when looking for hotels, look for ones that are committed to sustainability such as solar power, energy-efficient lighting, recycling and much more.

If you’re well and truly committed to sustainable travel and love the outdoors, camping is a great choice for you, where you’ll see the environmental benefits and feel good for it. There are numerous camping sites around the world, you just need to find one that suits your holiday style.

Make sure you’re eating locally too, with food that’s been grown from local producers. Avoid anything that’s been imported as well those international food chains that have transported food causing carbon emissions.

Be conscious of the wildlife and kind to their surroundings

It’s vital that you remain ethical when it comes to interacting with animals while on your travels. When you’re out and about, keep your hands to yourself and don’t feed or touch the animals as it can disrupt their natural behaviour.

The world is a beautiful place, from clear blue waters in the Canary Islands to the cobbled and vibrant streets of Copenhagen. Diversity is what makes each destination special and the reason why it’s everyone’s responsibility to look after the environment. Even little steps, such as putting rubbish in the bins, not using plastic straws and using reusable cups and bags will help.

Be a traveller, not a tourist

Travelling is a great way for you to unwind, and exploring a new country can broaden your horizons. Before leaving, do a little pre-flight research on local customs, traditions and cultural norms. Learn a few words of the local language before jetting off and this will go down well with the locals, helping you towards making a much more meaningful connection.

While tourism is still a long way from being completely sustainable, it’s heading for a positive change and you can help towards that. All it takes is some conscious travel decisions that can help to reduce our collective travel footprint and benefit people and our planet.

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