These are the best sustainable travel tips for 2023. Eat locally. Sleep like an eco-warrior. All it takes are a few conscious decisions.
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Who isn’t dreaming of their next vacation? Whether you’ll fly off to a classic destination or pack up the squad for a road trip, there are awe-inspiring destinations that we’re all head-tripping over. Before you renew your passport, review and reuse these sustainable travel tips for your checklist.
All it takes to reduce your carbon footprint are a few conscious decisions to help you pack, shop, and enjoy your vacation in a more eco-friendly way. Yet, don’t think these are grandiose overhauls that put a cramp on your vaca style. These are tips that you can pick and choose from depending on which ones you like. Are you flying to France in May? Why not indulge your inner wine connoisseur with a bike ride on a wine trail? Or, by simply carrying a reusable water bottle, you’ll reduce single-use plastic that clogs our oceans.
How To Get There? Fly Green
Good news for your inner eco-warrior. Over the last ten years, airlines have invested in biofuels and reduced plastic waste. Here are sustainable initiatives from leading airlines.
- Lufthansa set goals to cut its carbon emission in half by 2030. In 2022, the company saved 43,900 tons of CO2 through the use of sustainable aviation fuel.
- United Airlines made a series of investments in sustainable energy sources such as Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel™, which is produced from 100% sustainably sourced renewable waste and residue raw materials.
- Finnair has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 439,00 tons since 2008. Since 2018, they have also reduced their single-use plastic from 466 tons of plastic waste to 150 tons by 2022.
- Virgin has reduced its aircraft carbon emissions by 36% since 2013 and has outfitted its buildings with 100% renewable electricity.
- Air France has enforced several practices to reduce CO2 emissions. When taxiing on the runway, pilots can use only one of the two engines of the aircraft. On an Airbus A350, this saves up to 700kg of fuel on departure and on arrival.
- Alaska Airlines were the first domestic carrier to fly multiple scheduled routes powered by a sustainable aviation fuel blend in 2011. They also use AI to save 1.2 million gallons of fuel per year by helping dispatchers calculate the most efficient routes to avoid carbon emissions.
If you’re seeking ways to further indulge your inner eco-warrior there are a few eco-friendly travel tips you can follow when it comes time to book your flight. If you opt for direct flights you’ll fly a shorter distance that will reduce carbon emissions. If you’re hopping from destination to destination, try getting there by train to further reduce CO2 emissions.
Traveling Shorter Distances? Go Electric
Rent an electric car and help reduce carbon emissions by 550 million tons. In 2018 the Union of Concerned Scientists published data showing that electric vehicles are cleaner than 80 MPG gasoline cars. As electric cars become a part of a clean energy future, more and more standard car rental companies are offering electric cars.
Going on vacation to the East? In the UAE, you can rent electric cars in Sharjah, to explore the traditional and contemporary art or the white beaches. Renting an electric car will allow you to indulge in exotic destinations (without the heat) while reducing your environmental footprint.
Before switching to ‘green cars’, be sure that you know your charging options. Hybrids have small battery packs that can charge overnight. Cars that are 120-240 volts can be charged with home stations that require the same type of wiring as a clothes dryer. One pro tip is to ensure that you understand how long it will take to charge the car. Not all cars charge at the same speed and you’ll have to plan your road trip accordingly.
Take In Views On A Bike
Gasp under the dramatic landscape of the Alps. Whizz past the Adriatic Sea. Bicycling holidays allow you to get up close and personal with Mother Nature’s most romantic views. Whether you choose to bike along open seas or meander along a winding road of wineries, there are plenty of self-guided or group tours to choose from in most countries.
Riding a bike requires no tank, no fuel, and the added bonus of exercise. While you won’t emit greenhouse gases while pushing towards buns of steel, take a conscious note to see which type of ‘green bike’ is ideal for your trip. Bamboo bikes are a renewable alternative that is sturdy, strong, and resilient. Yet, depending on the brand, steel bikes might be a better choice to withstand the wear and tear of trails. More often than not, steel bikes can be recycled and remade into new bikes. For those wanting to give their buns a rest, electric bikes are best for taking in a few extra miles of breathtaking architecture along paved streets.
Sleep Like An Eco-Queen
Recycled paper products. Solar panels and batteries. Recycled rainwater. These are a few of the innovative ways that hotels around the world are going green. In 2019, Mariott Hotels announced that plastic toiletry bottles would be eliminated from all of their chains by the end of 2020. It was also the year that ‘eco-friendly’ felt like it was making its debut on the brochures of the world’s top hotels. From New York to Johannesburg, sustainable hotels are changing the planet one deep sleep at a time.
Eat Like A Local
Eating mindfully might not sound like your ideal way to decompress on your summer vacation. Yet, this sustainable travel tip is all about indulging in fresh local cuisine. Israeli hummus, Mexican tacos, and curries laced with spices in India. Enjoy flavors sourced from local ingredients instead of being flown from various destinations around the world. Ditch brand names or American favorites, like that yellow arch of ‘hope’ (cough… McDonald’s) cropping up on every city corner in the world. Instead, grab a stool at a communal table. From Uzbekistan to Italy to Japan- you won’t be disappointed when you bite into the freshest produce and exotic spices. Plus, eating local means less travel time and fewer carbon emissions.
Say ‘Goodbye’ To Single-Use
Speaking of indulging in plates of pasta at communal tables, take a minute to savor the pleasure of a freshly brewed espresso. Practice languages with locals and sit down instead of eating on the go. As a sustainable travel tip, sitting down for meals will also reduce the amount of plastic, paper, and other single-use waste you’ll use on your trip. If you must grab and go, put a reusable water bottle or coffee cup on your packing list. Try to say ‘no’ to extra packaging.
Another conscious choice you can make is to say ‘no’ to the packaging at local markets or boutiques. Pack a shopping tote so that you won’t have to take a plastic or paper bag. Ditch the tissue paper or extra packing. Every small decision we make to be greener counts. And, be sure to pack a water bottle that you can reuse and fill up instead of buying a single-use plastic water bottle.
Lend A Helping Hand
Want an enviable getaway? Say ‘yes’ to the experience of doing a meaningful activity on your next trip. You can search for volunteering trips through sites like GoVolunteering and GoEco. Each offers unique experiences from around the world. Embark on a jungle trek to volunteer on animal conservations in Malaysia or spend time teaching English and other studies at schools in Madagascar. GoEco also offers travel experiences that will teach you skills like sustainable farming. It might come in handy when you head back home and want to start your own indoor herb garden.