It's no secret that living sustainably is incredibly important to us, and we know that it is also important to many of you. Most of us have made small changes to our everyday lifestyles in order to do our little bit for the planet, but there’s still a lot more that can be done. One area that many of us may not have considered making changes to but would make a huge difference is how we travel. With global tourism at a record high, doing small things we consider harmless could end up being very costly for the environment. We believe that it is possible to reduce these negative effects that travel can have on the environment and be a more conscious and ethical traveller. Here's some of our tips and tricks!
Head of Adventure, Bee, planning for her next adventure!
Do your research
Not doing your research properly has a fair few consequences, such as wasting money, time, or resources. By automatically going for the cheapest or highest rated options, you could end up contributing to factors such as overcrowding, which increases the carbon footprint of your trip significantly. Doing a little research into things like your destination, accommodation and the activities you do can make a whole lot of difference when it comes to ensuring you’re travelling ethically, as it means you can plan your transportation appropriately so that you're able to pick the most sustainable options. You may want the tourist experience, but visiting somewhere that’s already overcrowded with tourists is likely to cause more harm than good because of the additional strain it puts on the local area. Increased footfall means more litter, more emissions and more energy used. If there is somewhere that you're desperate to visit, perhaps look into the quietest periods and plan your visit for then. It's also important to remember that some countries rely heavily on tourism for their livelihoods, this is something to consider when researching and planning your trip.
The once familiar view from an aeroplane window
Flights and accommodation
Flights account for around 2.5% of global carbon dioxide production at the moment, but the industry is expanding. And because planes fly high the atmosphere, the greenhouse gases they emit do more damage than on the ground. When it comes to long haul destinations, booking flights without stopovers is a way to reduce your carbon footprint. Aeroplane take offs and landings are what create the most carbon emissions, so the less stopovers you have, the better. Around a third of airlines offer a scheme to offset your carbon emissions by donating a fee on top of the cost of your flight, this is something that may be worth looking into. You can also look into alternative methods of transport such as train or ferry too, depending on where you’re going as these are much kinder for the environment. Another option is to reduce your itinerary a little and go to fewer places, but spend longer in each one. Spending longer in one place means that you can really immerse yourself in the culture and take your time to see everything there is to see! When it comes to accommodation, staying at large hotel chains may be the cheaper option, but this isn’t great for the local community. Staying in independent, local accommodation is a great way to ensure you support the community where you’re staying. If you prefer to stay in a hotel or hostel, look for places certified by organisations such as Rainforest Alliance or the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, as they’ll be recognised for having high environmental standards.
A beautiful mural on the walls of our partner workshop in Jaipur
Avoid harmful tours & activities
Of course when you go travelling, undoubtedly you’ll want to enjoy a few excursions along the way. However, booking the cheapest or the first thing you see may not always be the best idea. Travelling with large chain tour operators can do more harm than good, so be sure to look into smaller, local operators instead as they will often have less of an environmental impact. When it comes to animal related excursions, you should never book activities that promise ‘hands-on’ animal encounters. While riding an elephant will be a fabulous photo for you to share with your friends, you're actually likely to be supporting industries that illegally capture and mistreat animals. However, because of this, safari parks that focus on the wellbeing of animals are becoming increasingly more popular, so there is still an option for you to see some of the world’s most incredible animals in their natural habitats. Also, while swimming with dolphins or watching them perform may be a popular travel experience, you’ll likely be supporting an industry that keeps these amazing animals in inhumane captivity. Similarly, if you arrange scuba diving or snorkelling excursions, ensure your operator doesn’t churn the water. While it’s commonly used to attract the wildlife, it can actually make them sick or even change their behaviour and is considered an unethical practise.
It is best to keep your luggae to a minimum!
Avoid overpacking & overbuying
We all like to be prepared when we set off on our travels, I’m sure many of us are guilty of buying travel miniatures before heading off on our adventures, but this is incredibly wasteful, especially when most of us have plenty of toiletries at home. It is important to always follow the hand luggage rules for your airline, be sure to double check them before you travel. Despite it being a regulation at airports for the last decade or so, airport staff still throw away a huge amount of products every single day because of travellers forgetting the liquid allowance. This can easily be avoided by decanting any liquids into reusable travel sized bottles that you can use again and again. The luggage limits exist for a reason, and carrying more than your allowance will not only incur a fee, it also leads to increased emissions. Therefore, it is important to only pack the things that you really need. Similarly, a lot of us can get caught up in the excitement of holiday shopping, but if you can it is best to avoid mass-produced souvenirs which will have been shipped in and so have a much larger carbon footprint. Instead look for locally made products from smaller businesses. Remember not to buy products made from endangered plants and animals either and of course, remember your reusable bags.
Amy & Bee with Nitesh outside his beautiful workshop
Be a good tourist!
Most of us have cut down on single use plastics in our day-to-day lives, but a lot of us forget about this when we travel! Single use plastics are a global issue, so wherever you are in the world, cutting down on them is always a good idea. A reusable water bottle is an incredibly easy way to reduce your plastic usage as you travel, especially for those of us travelling in hot climates as it’s important to keep hydrated. In areas of the world where you need to purify the water before drinking it, you can use water purifying tablets instead of always buying bottled water. For any waste that you do create on your travels, make sure you are recycling and disposing of rubbish appropriately, just as you would at home. Finally, just be courteous! For a more ethical trip, try to take some time to do a little research on local customs and general etiquette of the places you are visiting. Many countries will have different ways of life than you are used to, which is why preparation is always key. A fun trip for you should never have negative impact on the people local to the places you are visiting, so always keep your manners at the forefront of your mind!
We hope you found these tips helpful! Of course, travel is a great luxury and should never be taken for granted. That is why it is important to us to always do our bit to make our adventures as sustainable and ethical as possible. Where will your next adventure be? Let us know in the comments!