6 Tips for Traveling Sustainably in 2021
This slowly but surely fading pandemic has left us with many questions, one of them being about the new normal for traveling. Even more so, when it comes to traveling from point A to point B, we now have to ask ourselves how to do it in the safest way possible to take care of ourselves and others around us. Not only do we want to give you tips on how to enhance the safety of your travels, but also double it up with how to do it sustainably. Check the tips below to make sure your trip follows health guidelines with a touch of environmentally friendly options.
Offsetting the footprint
When wanting to travel long distances, sometimes there is no other choice than to take a plane. Granted, aviation amounts up to 3.5% of global warming’s impact and in the near future, no cleaner way of traveling will be made available for the public, which means taking flights will always have a negative impact on the environment. But make no mistake, this does not mean you have to give up on flying forever! With the harsh statistics becoming more relevant and largely shared with the public, instead of feeling pessimistic about taking flights, you can offset this carbon footprint in many ways. Companies like Qantas, Air Canada, and Ryanair offer multiple flight carbon offsetting options for their passengers – allowing them to pay extra fees to support certain greenhouse reduction projects and gifting flyer points for paying the offsetting fee. With a growing number of airlines hopping on the eco-friendly movement, you might just be able to balance out your carbon footprint en route to your next sustainable destination.
Learning from the turtles
Instead of packing your itinerary with many stops during a short period of time, we suggest slow traveling. This basically consists of spending more time in one location, exploring, and truly savoring it. The new trend has gained more attention as sustainable traveling progresses, and it makes all the sense: not only will you be contributing fewer carbon emissions by moving around in buses, trains, and planes, but you will also experience the community you visit more deeply and consciously. Slowing it down also encourages moving around by foot or renting bikes (and if electric, even better!) and might land you in some local spots you might have otherwise overlooked if traveling in a rush.
We would like to add that slow traveling might also be your best bet at the moment, since it will avoid the spread of the virus in between destinations and increase your chances at supporting local businesses who could use all our help.
Home is where the heart is
Another way of staying safer and decreasing your chances of creating greenhouse gases is staying local. You might think you know your city, but have you truly taken the time to explore its nooks and crannies for hidden gems? We believe every place has potential for exploring it no matter how small, and we assure you might just find new experiences at every turn. Although seemingly a simple option, exploring your city further will deepen your appreciation for it, reactivate the economy, and expand your go-to spots.
Search it up
With concerns for the current climate crisis becoming more prominent among the public, some people want to make sure the places you stay in align with your values and make the search easier for you! Websites like Regenerative Travel were created with the sole purpose of connecting travelers with hotels, resorts, and hostels that reduce their waste, offer sustainable activities and respect the ecosystem they inhabit. Additionally, the Future of Tourism Coalition has partnered with 6 non-profits to create the Guiding Principles for sustainable traveling, with several travel agencies and tourism bureaus already signing up to these guidelines to better the impact of traveling on the environment. These companies will be able to connect you with great spots all around the world that are also caring for it during your stay.
Exploring the roots
For those who crave more paradisiac stays in faraway lands, we recommend visiting low carbon footprint locations. Although it might be hard to find places that are completely carbon neutral, it will help to visit countries that only offer sustainable tourism to their visitors.
Places such as Malawi, Palau, and even the only carbon-negative country in the world, Bhutan, have fully focused their tourism plans around caring for their land and their culture. While you explore the country safely, they ensure you do it sustainably while experiencing their one-of-a-kind traditions.
Back to basics
And before going anywhere, make sure you pack sustainably, of course. One thing that is usually not considered is how sunscreens can often contain chemicals that are harmful to the ocean. Many governments have already banned the use of sunscreens that are toxic to coral reefs, which are already threatened by rising water levels and an increase in temperature. Luckily, the non-profit organization Save The Reef have made a list of brands to avoid and approved brands to take on your next trip!
On top of caring for coral reefs, we will always suggest making a checklist for the essentials:
- Reusable grocery bags – in case you feel like buying some local produce.
- Reusable water bottle (SteriPen suggested in case safe water sources are unavailable).
- Reusable utensils on the go.
- BYOS – bring your own shampoo bottled in travel kits (liquid or bar soap also encouraged).
We wish you a happy and safe traveling in 2021! While we expand the world around us, let’s make sure we also expand our love for it to create more meaningful experiences.