Over the last two years, holidaymakers have faced disruptions when heading abroad, or even when planning a staycation in some cases. Now, with travel restrictions gradually lifting, you may be looking forward to planning your next trip.
One of the 2022 travel trends is sustainability. With a few small changes to your holiday plans, you could reduce your negative impact on the environment and support communities. When discussing sustainable travel, the focus is often on carbon emissions. While important, there are other things you can do to minimise harmful impacts, while maximising the benefits tourism can bring.
As you book your next trip, here are 10 things you could do to make it more sustainable.
1. Give cruising a miss
Choosing a cruise for your holiday can mean you get to see several different places on your trip and enjoy all the amenities offered onboard. But in terms of sustainability, cruising can be harmful to both the environment and communities.
Cruise ships are typically all-inclusive, which can be attractive if you want a stress-free holiday. However, it also means you’re less likely to spend your money at local attractions, shops, cafes, and more, so the positive impact of tourism is reduced. On top of this, cruise ships generate and dump huge amounts of waste, which can destroy valuable marine ecosystems, and, in many cases, your carbon footprint will be higher than a land-based trip.
2. Offset your carbon footprint
Ideally, sustainable travel would mean cutting out carbon-intensive transport, like flying. For most people, that would mean they couldn’t enjoy the holiday they want, and carbon offsetting presents an alternative.
Carbon offsetting means you take steps to reduce emissions to compensate for emissions you’ve used somewhere else. For example, you may invest in projects like protecting rainforests or installing a wind farm, after you’ve flown on holiday. If you’re interested in carbon offsetting, be sure to do your research and choose a reputable provider.
3. Use public transport to get around
When you’re on holiday, rather than hiring a car, opting for public transport where possible can cut your environmental impact. It’s a chance to see more of the destination you’re visiting and get to know what life is like for the locals too.
4. Support local businesses
How much of what you spend on holiday benefits the community you’re visiting? Choosing to eat at a local café and purchase souvenirs from a family-run shop means your money is far more likely to stay in, and benefit, the local area rather than increasing the profits of large corporations.
5. Choose excursions run by local guides
Much like the above, choosing excursions and trips hosted by locals means you can actively support the local economy and community. You could also get a lot more out of the experience by being able to listen to a local perspective.
6. Cut down your use of single-use plastic
Plastic is having a devastating impact on environments around the world. You may have made changes at home to cut down your use of plastic and, with a bit of planning, you can do the same when you’re on holiday. Packing a refillable water bottle and backpack is simple, and over the holiday could mean you use far fewer disposable bottles and plastic bags.
7. Visit protected areas and environmental projects
A holiday abroad is a great opportunity to see different natural environments to those we find in the UK. Paying to visit protected sites and other sustainable projects can help ensure they’re funded so future generations can enjoy these areas too.
8. Choose sustainable accommodation
As sustainability becomes more popular, holidaymakers have more choice than ever when choosing sustainable accommodation. From an eco-lodge to a hotel that’s leading the way to reduce water use, where you decide to stay can have an impact. Alternatively, choosing accommodation that is locally run or prioritises local suppliers and producers can support communities.
9. Book one, longer trip a year
As travel has become more affordable, it’s become common to take several trips throughout the year and even visit destinations for just a weekend. Slowing down and spending longer in one destination can help reduce your environmental impact. It’s also a chance to really explore and discover hidden gems rather than just ticking off a handful of tourist sights.
10. Embrace the culture
Spending some time learning about the place you’re visiting can help you have a much richer experience when you’re there. Whether you learn some key phrases in the local language or read about the history of the place, embracing the culture can help you identify where small changes can improve the sustainability of your holiday.