In the current situation travel is off the list for most of us, so why not use this time to gather both information and inspiration in regards to travelling more responsibly? Here are some great responsible travel tips for your future travels.
Whether you prefer hotel stays, hikes and camping, or the comfort of your mobile home, we’ve got you covered with these 7 massively impactful tips and countless swaps and essentials. Ready to amp up your green game?
These practical tips were provided by my friends over at Kildwick. Kildwick is a UK-born, Germany-based sustainable manufacturer of waterless composting loos for eco-savvy campers, gardeners, boat and off-grid home owners. The team of passionate environmentalists and slow travellers know how to make travelling more earth-friendly.
Travelling is such a beautiful thing. We travel to discover people and their cultures, to experience nature so breathtaking it feels surreal, to simply have the time of our lives. But if we’re not careful, we could well destroy the very destinations that we travel so far to see.
Thankfully, adjusting our travel habits to reduce our environmental impact has become easier than ever.
By travelling more responsibly, we can be part of the change, rather than part of the problem. And who wouldn’t like that?
EXOTIC TRAVEL – LONG HAUL FLIGHTS
We all know that air travel accounts for almost half the carbon footprint of the entire travel industry. But what if the only way to reach your travel destination is by booking a long haul flight?
Is it possible to ‘fly green’?
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL TIPS #1: Reduce flights
Reduce the amount of flights you have to take. If it’s for work, video chats are becoming more and more du jour. If it’s for leisure, sometimes we tend to overlook the gems in our own metaphorical backyard. There might be a fabulous SPA retreat or a great national park or a fantastic cultural site or whatever amazing place just near you, a place people will literally travel to see!
A little research does the trick.
GREEN SWAP IDEAS: Pack reusables for your long haul trip. Whether it’s a large reusable water bottle, bamboo utensils, or a reusable napkin – make sure to eliminate single use plastics and throw-away items (that won’t decompose) as much as possible by choosing lightweight (!) reusable items.
And speaking of that napkin: it will be more forgiving and nicer looking if you pick a dark colour.
Cut down on flights and go for road trips instead, but make sure you get all the seats in the car filled!
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL TIPS #2: Carbon offsetting
Try carbon offsetting.
Yes, it’s a thing.
No, it’s not the perfect solution.
In fact, carbon offsetting doesn’t help much if we simply add the fee to our ticket and otherwise never try to reduce the very amount of flights we take or our carbon footprint otherwise. It can’t fix the problem – but it’s a good addition to your greener travel habits.
If you’re not familiar: carbon offsetting is a way to compensate for your negative carbon impact. There’s a way to calculate the exact CO2 emission of your trip, and then to donate money to a carbon offsetting programme that will – so to speak – neutralise your CO2 cost by removing or preventing the emissions somewhere else.
These programmes will then invest in green projects, such as reforestation projects or renewable energy. There are several providers, so you can choose one that resonates with you the most in terms of cause and purpose.
A quick extra tip to avoid greenwashing here: if you choose to offset your carbon emissions footprint by adding a fee to your ticket, as provided by your airline, make sure that verified emission reduction (VER) credits are offered.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL TIPS #3: Book non-stop flights
Whenever possible, book non-stop flights. You can even check different flight options with one of the carbon offsetting providers to see the impact of an extra takeoff and landing!
GREEN UP YOUR HOTEL EXPERIENCE Your zero waste travel essentials will be helpful here as well: reusable water bottles, reusable shopping bags, bamboo or steel straws and utensils are great for any kind of travel. But there’s even more you can do when staying at a hotel.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL TIPS #4: Book eco-friendly
Depending on your destinations, there might be none or several green hotels to choose from. Thankfully, you can find out easily by looking up ‘green hotels’ + your destination. Here are a few criteria you want to look for when researching:
- Is there a long-term sustainability concept and system in place?
- Does the hotel comply with environmental, safety and labour regulations?
- Is there a water, carbon footprint and energy monitoring and reduction plan (one that goes beyond the „reuse your towel“ sticker)?
- Is the restaurant working with local, seasonal, organic produce?
- Is the hotel built in a way that respects the local population and natural ecosystem?
- What sustainable practices are used on a daily basis (renewable energy, rain water, composting)?
- Are toiletries and cleaning products biodegradable?
- Is the hotel reducing or eliminating single-use plastics?
- Is the hotel committed to the local culture?
- Does the hotel provide guests with eco-friendly transportation?
- Is the hotel certified with renowned sustainability labels? (examples: EU Ecolabel, Green Tourism Business Scheme, U.S. Green Building Council LEED Certification)
GREEN SWAP IDEAS: Ideally, your hotel will have no mini toiletries but work with refillable or plastic-free products – you can find out in advance by simply asking.
If they don’t, bring your own products.
Make sure to pick biodegradable, plastic-free skincare products such as solid shampoo bars, organic cream deodorants, water-free body wash powders, solid toothpaste and so on. To boot, solid and multi-use skincare products are more economic and save space.
Product examples: Dr. Bronners natural multi-use liquid soap, Plaine shower, hair and shaving powder, Beauty Kubes Zero Waste Shampoo and Body Wash, Lamazuna Solid Toothpaste.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL TIPS #5: Conserve energy
Conserve water and save energy by reducing your shower times and by turning off and unplugging all electronic devices when you leave your room.
VANLIFE, HIKING AND BOAT LIFE
Travellers who love nature get to experience firsthand both its beauty… and its destruction. Whether hiking, surfing, diving, we’ve all seen the dark side of human presence, the immediate one, plastic and litter, and the long-term, like dead coral reefs or species going extinct.
It doesn’t need to stay this way.
Let’s have a look at a few gamechanging and sometimes even trailblazing earth-friendly travel habits for campers, hikers and nature lovers.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL TIPS #6: Strategise your route
Strategise your travel routes by planning in advance and adopt slow travel habits to get the most out of the mileage. Enjoy longer stays and discover your destination – and why not by foot?
GREEN SWAP IDEAS: For your van or your boat, opt for unbreakable, lightweight, non-toxic, durable and functional stainless steel kitchenware. In addition, try to avoid not only single-use plastics but also single-use paper, when possible.
And there’s a slew of amazing, cool products that will not just do their job but even look good while at that:
- Stainless steel wine glasses, for example by GSI Glacier
- Vietnamese coffee phins – the filter-free, stainless steel drippers, no paper filters needed
- Reusable, wax-coated wraps (bye, cling wrap!)
- Reusable cloth napkins and sponges
- Plastic-free (and waterless) multi-use toiletries
- Synthetic-free clothes – cotton, peace silk, wool (mulesing-free), linen, naturally waxed cotton have natural benefits that make the extra use of chemicals unnecessary and also won’t shed any microplastics or PFCs into the environment
- Paper-free or recycled toilet paper
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL TIP #7: Use composting toilets
We’ve just celebrated World Toilet Day on the 19th of December, but why celebrate something so weird, you ask?
Because, proper sanitation is luxury in the global scheme of things. Did you know that in contrast to 70% of wastewater cleansed by sewage treatment plants in industrialised countries, this number amounts to only about 8% in less developed countries?
Another problem is that our conventional WCs are flushed using drinking water – a wasteful kind of luxury in a world where drinking water is becoming more and more scarce.
That’s why you swapping your van’s or boat’s chemical toilet for a waterless composting toilet is a trailblazing way to greener indie travel: they are cost-efficient, eco-friendly, odour-free as well as easy and hygienic to maintain.
Green travel is a community thing however, so we’re always eager to hear from you.
What are your best ideas for responsible travel?
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