Tips for greener travel - it doesn't have to cost the earth!

Blog Post by Karen Wallis 05 September 2014

Here are some easy green travel practices that won’t cost your wallet or the environment!

Travel

As an environmental professional, I like to think I practice what I preach as much as possible. Unfortunately that time of year has arrived where I start to feel overwhelming guilt – yes, holiday season; cue lots of extra CO2 emissions......

If like me, you’re a keen traveller who loves exploring different countries and cultures then it’s pretty likely you’re getting to those destinations by flying on those pesky CO2 emitting airplanes. And therein lies the dilemma. If you’re someone who sees being environmentally conscious as a way of life but also loves to travel..... how do you do both without feeling the guilt?! Well, in this blog we’re going to look at some easy options for moving towards more responsible travel.

Taking my place in the masses that head abroad each year, I’m aware I’m contributing to the problem of global warming and climate change. According to the World Tourism Organization, tourism is responsible for approximately 5% of the world's CO2 emissions and the industry will only continue to grow. But it’s not practical or feasible to just say, “Let’s all stop using planes”. So what else can we do? Well, there are lots of ways in which we can become more responsible travellers and help preserve the destinations we’re all so keen to see for years to come. First things first, we have to consider the impact of our trips.

Remember, tourism isn’t the ‘Big Bad’. It has just as much potential for good as it does for harm. I’ve travelled to destinations such as Mexico and Thailand where the tourist industry was the lifeblood of the local economy and I saw evidence first hand that it was providing local communities with incentives to preserve their beautiful environments. Some travellers also contribute more than just tourist cash, participating in conservation projects that have a direct effect on the places they visit; this type of tourism is becoming more and more popular.

The term "green travel" though can conjure up images of luxury ecolodges and treehouses in far off lands or hefty carbon offsetting fees for your plane journeys, meaning you might dismiss the idea of being an environmentally responsible traveller is well out of your price range. Luckily, that's not necessarily the case -- in fact, going green could actually help you trim costs on your next trip.

Here are some easy green travel practices that won’t cost your wallet or the environment:

  • When planning your trip why not borrow a guide book from friends or the local library rather than buying new for every trip. You’ll save money and you’ll also be helping to reduce resources and waste.
  • Consider choosing an environmentally friendly travel company for your trip – there are lots out there trying to make a positive difference to local environments and communities.
  • Instead of taking many short getaways, you can minimise your flight emissions by taking fewer trips with longer flight times. Also try to fly direct to your destination if you can.
  • If you’re booking your own travel for getting out and about once you reach your destination, why not look at walking, biking and public transport options instead of driving? In my experience, public transport abroad can be incredibly cheap, clean and reliable – the stress-free option! If you need to drive, make sure you choose the most fuel-efficient car on offer.
  • Consider participating in a conservation project or adding an educational component to your holiday so you can learn more about the place you're visiting.
  • Where you’re there, how about buying local wherever possible? I don’t know about you but I love going to local farmers markets and picking up cheap fresh fruit and vegetables on my trips. It gives me a chance to interact with the locals and try out my dodgy language skills!
  • One of the best tips I was given was to take my own reusable water bottle which I can keep filling up. So much cheaper and great to know you aren’t adding to the blight that is plastic water bottle waste...

What you do every day at home has just as much of an impact as what you do when you travel. Try to make sure you keep all those great environmental practices up at home once your holiday is over and you’ll have the added bonus of saving even more money!

If you’ve got some top tips for greener travel that you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them. Just comment in the box below.

 



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