We travel to discover the world and ourselves together with it. We travel to taste new flavours, to see new things when we wake up, to be together, to be amazed. To rest our minds and to excite our souls. But did you know you could make your travels not only more meaningful for yourself but greener and more sustainable for the environment?
This is our list of top 5 things you can do or think about to make your travels greener:
1. Minimise or offset your carbon print
Do: When travelling to an airport use local transport – invest a few minutes in finding how to get there and save the money (or donate it to an offset organisation).
What other people are doing: The Swedish banking group Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB) started a carbon offset project in 2009, in which solar cookers were installed in the Ningxia Hui region of China. The solar cookers allow the people living in the region, people who are considered the poorest in the country, to get green energy for cooking and boiling water, and make coal use unnecessary, saving 35.000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year (source: SEB’s carbon offsets website)
2. Choose environmentally friendly accommodation
Do: Look for hotels that respect the environment when you book your holiday.
Don’t: Leave the tap water running and the light on when you’re away just because “you’re paying for it” anyway.
What others are doing: The Whitepod Resort in the Swiss Alps offers low impact accommodation in dome shaped tents equipped with wooden stoves.
Not a big fan of tents? You don’t have to camp to travel green. Another example, again from the Alps, is the “Pearl of the Alps” project, which stands for innovative, sustainable tourism packages that protect the environment. There are 24 Pearls of the Alps resorts in 6 countries (Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland) so you can enjoy a greener stay in the Alps, no matter which country you live in (travelling to).
3. Take a different type of holiday
Do: Instead of taking the usual sun, beach, cocktails holiday (not that it sounds all that bad at the moment) why not travel and volunteer for a conservation project.
Don’t: leave litter wherever you go and behave irresponsibly just because “you’re on holiday”. Even if the country you are travelling to makes recycling feel like extra work, do your best to place garbage in appropriate places that won’t harm the environment. Don’t be ashamed to ask where the garbage is going.
What others are doing: Global Vision International (GVI) runs volunteering programs for conservation initiatives that run from one week to two years.
4. Prepare your home for when you’ll be away
Do: Think in advance about who’s taking care of your home when you’re away. Turn your heating off, cancel your deliveries, put your pets and plants in the care of someone you trust.
Don’t: overfeed your pets in advance. That won’t work the way you hope.
What others are doing: Have you heard of house sitting? We first heard of it from the Hecktic travellers Dalene and Peter, who travel the world by taking care of other people’s houses and pets. More about house sitting in this video from Trusted Housesitters:
5. Going on Safari? Do your research first.
Do: When going on safaris or wild life tours check if the companies organising them are responsible and respectful towards the locals and the environment.
Don’t: buy souvenirs that encourage poaching, such as ivory, turtle shells, reptile skins, live animals etc.
What others are doing: Tribes is a small independent travel company, run by Amanda and Guy Marks, who believe in sustainable travel and have an excellent reputation for organising cultural tours, trekking and wildlife safaris.
Do you have any green travel tips? Do you know an organisation involved with green travel? We’d love to get to know them!