How to Travel More Sustainably

It’s no secret that travelling and flying by plane have a huge impact on the environment. Of course, one of the simplest ways to be more sustainable is to cut back on travelling altogether. However, those that still want to see the world can still find ways to travel and do so more sustainably, reducing the impact on the environment and also supporting local economies.

Consider the Distance

Generally, the shorter the distance you travel, the lower your carbon footprint will be. So, think about what destinations close to home you could travel to before you start going further afield. It might be that there’s a destination on your travel bucket list that’s just one country over, or even in the same country or city as you are now.

If there are specific places that you want to visit that are further away, you can still travel in a more eco-conscious way, by making some smart choices.

Consider How You Travel

When you travel, you should think about what your options for transport are. Travelling by rail usually has the smallest carbon footprint, so if the distance allows, take a look at options for going by train. Rail can also be a great option for when you’re travelling around another country, being a quick and efficient way of connecting cities and much more environmentally friendly than going short distances by plane.

There are some destinations where going by train isn’t possible and you will have to fly. In that case, you can still make choices to travel more sustainably. You should always try to find a direct flight, or as direct as possible, as this will reduce your carbon footprint. You should also choose your airline carefully. Airlines that are using the latest model of planes will be much more efficient. Some airlines also use renewable biofuel, which is a much more sustainable option.

When you arrive at your destination, you should carefully consider how you plan to travel around. If you’re on a city break, is it possible to walk or cycle rather than get taxis? Is there a public transport system you can use, like buses or the subway? If you have to rent a car, could you choose an electric model? By making the right choices for your travel, you can really reduce your impact on the environment.

Visit Off-Season

‘Overtourism’, where locations face an overload of visitors, can cause a huge strain on ecosystems and local infrastructures. After the pandemic saw a pause in travel and tourism, popular destinations had a chance to recover, and we really saw the impact of overtourism versus fewer visitors had on these locations.

When choosing where to visit, consider finding a country’s hidden secrets rather than the tourist hotspots. If you really want to go to a popular location, try to travel off-season, when there will be fewer people. Fewer people will mean less impact on the local ecosystem and will also mean you can support the local economy and businesses during a time when they might otherwise struggle.

Find Eco-Conscious Accommodation

You should try to book sustainable, eco-conscious accommodation. Some hotels operate on a carbon-neutral basis, and some have plastic-free policies to reduce waste. You might also find smaller scale accommodation options that are eco-friendly, like rentals that use solar power and B&Bs that serve fresh, local produce. Many places will hold a certification for their sustainability, so you know they are verified and not just attempting to look attractive to sustainable travellers.

Another way to find sustainable accommodation is to look for local experiences, like a homestay, that supports the local economy rather than a big international corporation.

Pack Your Reusable Items

You can take steps to reduce the waste produced on your trip by packing reusable items, like a water bottle, coffee cup, food containers and straws. This will help you to avoid using single-use plastics. You should always take a reusable shopping bag and minimal waste toiletries, like shampoo bars and refillable deodorant bars.

Tourism can really increase the amount of waste that a community has to deal with, so by reducing the amount you produce when you travel, you can help to reduce your impact on the local environment.

Limit Your Energy and Water Usage

When you travel, you should aim to conserve as much energy and water as possible. In some popular tourist spots, especially in more rural areas, there is a shortage of clean water and tourists will often be prioritised over locals to receive what water is available. So, you should have quick showers, turn off the tap when you brush your teeth, and make sure to reuse your towels rather than having them washed after every use.

You should also make sure to limit your energy use by switching off lights and plugs when not in use and using the heating or air conditioning conservatively.

Carbon Offsetting

After you’ve made as much effort as possible to reduce your carbon emissions when travelling, you can balance out anything that’s left by reducing the same number of emissions elsewhere. This is known as carbon offsetting, and there are several programmes available where you can do this.

These programmes usually involve individuals investing in environmental projects that aim to reduce their carbon footprint and emissions. Whilst it won’t reduce the amount of carbon emissions, it can help to balance out the emissions caused by your travel and make your trip carbon neutral.

For your next sustainable trip, don’t forget your international travel insurance. Expatriate Group’s International Travel Insurance policy covers all nationalities, travelling from almost anywhere in the world. We can provide cover for a single trip or Annual Worldwide Travel Insurance for multiple trips. Get a quote today or contact us to find out more.

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