Want to travel green? Here are some simple tips!

Remember those annual vacations of our childhood days? Mostly it happened during the summer break. The entire family would take a train to their native village. On the train, they would carry an earthen pot filled with drinking water, a flask of hot tea and a tiffin carrier with food to eat during the journey. Mostly it would contain puri and aloo. Kids would spend the entire summer going to mango orchards and sleeping in the open at night. Those were days of sustainable living and sustainable travelling.

Now families take vacations away from home, often at international tourist destinations involving air travels and staying at hotels or resorts.

Sustainable Travelling

In recent times, there is increasing focus on travelling in a more sustainable manner and leaving as little of a carbon footprint as possible. Global warming trends have been at the forefront of all discussions and we can often see the impact in our daily lives, from suffering extreme temperatures to the shifting of seasons. The loss of snow cover or accelerated calving of glaciers have highlighted the need to take better care of our planet, urgently. Often, the terms that environmentalists use leave us more confused than enlightened! Otherwise, the steps mentioned are quite often rather extreme and could take the fun out of vacationing!

So, how do we travel in an eco-friendly manner without totally compromising on comfort and fun? The short answer is that ecotourism will thrive if your interest in it, the choices you are willing to make and your own deeply held values align. The simple idea is to create a positive impact in the destination and communities that you visit.

 

In this article, I will try to put down some simple steps that could reduce our carbon footprint. Imagine, if millions of individual travelers and vacationers joined up, this would definitely have a significant impact. Every individual can contribute and make this movement stronger. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step! So here goes:

  1. Choose the right destination

We all have a bucket list, and realistically understand that we might not be able to go through it in its entirety. So, if you have 2 or 3 places that have similar priority, you could go to the one that you feel is the greener destination. There are some handy researches you could look up…Global Green Economy Index, Go Green Travel Green, or the International Ecotourism Society for instance. Some destinations also advertise their green credentials that could help.

However, simply speaking, do your own research into these places before making a decision. Some tips could be:

  • Look for places that naturally embrace a greener lifestyle. Presence of green cover/ open spaces, availability of public transportation, walkable sightseeing, bike trails etc.
  • Travel to lesser-known sites. Often, they are unique, quiet, cleaner, less polluted, and more environment friendly. E.g., Bhutan is a carbon negative destination

  1. Energy efficient travel

Our travel mode has a great impact on the carbon footprint a vacation can have. Obviously, any international travel will mean air travel. Even in domestic travel, flights are preferred given time constraints.

For travel, usually, trains are best environmentally. Plus, train travel has its own charm. Often, just getting into a train to start a journey, heralds the beginning of the vacation anyway. Passing through the countryside, watching the many different hues of the sky, land and water, can be a deeply relaxing experience.

Check out these comfortable walking shoes

Buses are another great way of travel as they transport a fair number of people. Currently, there are also a lot of hybrid options available that have made green travel easier without compromising on speed, safety or comfort.

We must also remember that there are often 2 phases of travel in a vacation. First is the travel from home base to the main destination and return. Then there is the travel between destinations. You could fly to Europe but then do the local sightseeing in buses, trains or car-pools. Similarly, you could fly to Jaipur and then do the local Rajasthan sightseeing using a combination of bus and train travel.

Advent of technology is heralding new modes of travel. I have seen youngsters zooming on hybrid scooters for intra-city sightseeing; trains connect Europe well and are lighter on the pocket as well; even cruises are investing to make themselves more eco-friendly.

Some other simple ideas could be:

  • Walk as much as you can. Nature walks and/or bicycling is highly recommended.
  • Use fuel efficient or green modes of transport.
  1. Accommodation

This is an area that has the greatest impact without our realizing. Firstly, look for a hotel that is eco-friendly, if possible. Many hotels shout this out but many claims can be exaggerated. Look for LEED certification, the hotel’s website (or group website) or even plan to stay at a local accommodation provider.

 

As a guest there are many small things that you can do:

  • Use towels and linen without replacement as much as possible.
  • Ensure that room power is switched off once you leave the room
  • Use a personal water bottle and refill for water
  • Avoid using single-use items as much as possible (cups, cutlery, glasses etc.)
  • Avoid buffets (a lot of food gets wasted for no reason at all)

 

  1. Do not leave behind your footprints

There are many ways in which you could be eco-friendly while having loads of vacation fun. Sailing, trekking and hiking, biking, swimming etc. are all green activities. For tours use a local company employing local people; visit the local crafts market; carry your own bag; Avoid single use plastic bottle, cans, chips packets; use a refillable water bottle; most importantly do not strew garbage and try to recycle as much as possible.

Be as local as possible!

  • Try local food
  • Respect local traditions
  • Learn about local customs, cuisine, festivals
  • Do buy local handicraft items

All in all, there are many little steps that can make green travel possible while being enjoyable as well. As travel enthusiasts, we owe it to ourselves and others.

Do you have some ideas that you would like to share? Do write your thoughts in the comments.

 

Happy travels!

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