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How to Travel Sustainably in 2023 (and Beyond)




As travel rebounds from the pandemic induced lull, tourists are travelling in droves to exciting destinations, creating a phenomenon that the Oxford Dictionary has dubbed “overtourism”. One of its most notable fallouts is the consequent damage to the local environment and historical sites, and a poorer quality of life for residents of these destinations. It is time we consider tourism’s social, political, economic, and environmental impacts, and travel responsibly.

As we continue to become more conscious of our impact on the environment, ‘Green Travel’ is becoming increasingly popular. But what does ‘Green Travel’ mean for those who want to travel, and does it have a meaningful impact?

What is green travel?

Green travel involves making sustainable choices while traveling that minimise our carbon footprint and contribute to environmental conservation, social, and economic sustainability.

To date, aviation has contributed approximately 4% to observed human-induced global warming, despite accounting for only 2.4% of global CO2 emissions. Flying less frequently is one of the simplest methods to cut back on emissions when considering how to lower our personal carbon footprints. But there are ways to make travel more environmentally friendly for individuals who want to explore the world, including where you go, what you carry, and how you pick to get there.

If you’re planning to travel in 2023, here are some tips on how to make your travel experience more environmentally friendly:

Choosing Sustainable Destinations

Look for cities that promote greener, cleaner practices and work to improve the quality of life for their inhabitants. Some indicators of a sustainable city are if they have a governing body to manage sustainability, encourage reduced energy consumption, focus on reducing both their local and global impact and if they show commitment to protecting natural resources, people, and local heritage.

Visit Popular Destinations Off-Season

The most popular and bustling cities aren’t typically the most sustainable, so if you choose to visit one of them, think about going off-peak. Remember that a destination’s high season is typically determined by the break times of the nearby schools, not necessarily by the optimum time to visit. When you go off-season, you not only save money on hotels and flights but also contribute to the growth of the economy and the creation of jobs.

Choose Eco-friendly Accommodations

There are now many eco-friendly hotels and resorts that have implemented sustainable practices such as using renewable energy sources, reducing water consumption, and recycling waste. Look for hotels that have green certifications or eco-labels, such as Green Key or Green Globe.

Book Your Accommodation Using an Eco-friendly Booking Site

When it comes to accommodating environmentally aware travellers trying to minimise their carbon impact, many of the main lodging booking companies fall short. Nonetheless, a lot of websites today are addressing this critical void. After all, the future of the tourism industry depends on protecting the locations, livelihoods, and communities in which hotels are based. Thus, it is in their best interest to create a net positive impact.

Use Public Transportation or Rent Electric Vehicles

Taking public transportation such as buses, trains, or subways, is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. In addition, consider renting an electric vehicle if you need a car during your trip. This can significantly reduce your greenhouse gas emissions compared to a traditional gasoline-powered car.

Be Conscious of Your Energy and Water Usage

While you are on vacation, take every effort to protect the region’s energy and water resources. The regional infrastructure for supplying water and energy may be under significant stress in some places. Since tourists usually consume far more water and energy than natives, certain localities have trouble keeping up with demand. As the world’s temperatures rise and more people live on the planet, this problem will get worse.

Pack Light

The more weight you carry on a plane or in a car, the more fuel is required to transport it. By packing light, you can help reduce the carbon emissions associated with transportation.

More Useful Reusable Items to Pack

You’ll need different equipment depending on the kind of trip you’re taking (camping, beach, hiking, cultural, etc.). But it doesn’t mean they can’t also be environmentally beneficial. Further particular things to think about bringing are:

  • Cutlery and small containers
    • Toothbrush and toiletries (e.g., bamboo or biodegradable non-plastic toothbrush)
    • E-reader or tablet instead of books (lightens your load too)
    • Clothesline
    • Cloth napkins (instead of using paper napkins and comes in handy on the go and while eating)
    • Reusable snack bags
    • Tupperware

Avoid Single-Use Plastics

Plastic waste is a significant environmental issue, and many popular tourist destinations are struggling to manage their waste. To help reduce your impact, bring a reusable water bottle, utensils, and shopping bag with you, so you can avoid using single-use plastics during your trip.

Support local businesses

By supporting local businesses and buying locally made products, you can reduce the carbon emissions associated with transportation and support the local economy. Look for locally-owned hotels, restaurants, and shops to support during your trip.

Choose eco-friendly activities

Consider participating in eco-friendly activities such as hiking, biking, or kayaking, that have a low impact on the environment. Avoid activities that are harmful to animals or their habitats, such as elephant riding or visiting marine parks.

Decarbonize Your Travel

While it’s desirable to select the mode of transportation that produces the fewest carbon emissions, it’s occasionally unavoidable. Where possible, invest in an environmental project that is lowering the amount of carbon in the atmosphere to offset any portion of your trip. If you decide to offset your trip, keep in mind that because offsets are sometimes unregulated, the quality of the projects and investments can vary.

By implementing the above tips, we can help to reduce our carbon footprint, support local communities, and contribute to environmental conservation. Sustainable and green travel is all about understanding the environmental impact of our behavior. With that understanding, we can change the way we travel for the benefit of the planet.

Let’s make 2023 a year of sustainable and responsible travel!