These days, the wise traveler is the ‘green’ traveler. By making environmentally conscious decisions about the way we travel, the places we visit and the behavior we display whilst on vacation, we can make a positive impact and help protect the planet. Here are some simple tips for travelers who want to see the world without helping to ruin it in the process.
Getting there by ‘green’ means
For minimizing your carbon footprint, the best mode of transport is literally, on foot. A walking vacation will limit carbon emissions; however, it will be difficult to travel too far afield. A bicycle offers a low impact, healthy option and the independence and satisfaction a biking vacation offers is becoming very popular.
For seeing the landscape, train travel is hard to beat and opportunities to mingle with the locals can be highlights of a vacation. Many countries have extensive rail networks, which are fast, efficient and often the cheapest option.
Air travel is known to have a detrimental effect on the environment, but if a long-haul destination is scheduled, it is unavoidable. Have a personal impact on reducing aircraft carbon emissions by packing light and using the lavatory prior to boarding. If all passengers do this the fuel consumption of the aircraft is reduced.
If choosing the hire car option, ask for a fuel-efficient model. Increasingly, environmentally friendly hybrid cars are available; at the very least choose a smaller car over a large gas-guzzler, whenever possible.
Stay somewhere eco-responsible
Carry out a little research into a hotel’s green credentials. As more travelers make accommodation decisions based on green criteria, hotels are adapting their practices to ensure they are environmentally responsible. It is possible to book cheap hotels that are run along green lines, providing responsibly sourced food, bed linen, toiletries and power.
Be a good guest
Think about how certain behavior may impact on the local community. Where possible, try and spend vacation money in the locality, it has a direct impact on the local economy. Eat and dine on local fare, again this aids the locals and limits environmentally harmful shipping emissions. Often, tourism is the main source of income for out of the way destinations and the tourist dollar is vital to a thriving economy. When staying in exotic locations, be wary of purchasing souvenirs that have suspect provenance. Avoid animal products, such as reptile skins, ivory and tortoiseshell, as they are usually from endangered species and are invariably illegal.
Respect the natural environment
Beach holidays in remote and beautiful locations are one of life’s ultimate pleasures. Make sure the beach remains pretty by disposing responsibly of any rubbish produced and respecting wildlife, both on land and in the sea. If snorkeling or diving, take care not to damage coral reefs and if using motorized water craft, such as jet skis or speedboats, keep away from areas populated by marine life; better still, hop aboard a windsurfer or sailing dinghy, they are far more eco-friendly.
The most important rule of eco-travel is to pack brains in the suitcase alongside the swimsuits and sun-cream. By simply being aware of the environmental impact tourism can have and moderating behavior accordingly, change will come. Power lies in the hands of the consumer and increasingly we see the eco-traveler opting for a more authentic, less damaging vacation; by doing so, everybody, including the environment, wins.
Contributed by Dave Stephenson