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Green travel, also known as ecotourism, is a growing travel trend with a massive following that continues to gain popularity – and for good reason. Travelers are searching for ways to travel more sustainably, especially with a focus on how to preserve their favorite spots. Let’s take a look at some of the easiest ways to start your journey as a sustainable traveler.
Reducing plastic use is a huge focus within the green travel communities. According to Reader’s Digest, it is estimated that a plastic bottle takes 450 years to break down entirely. Think of all the plastic items you use throughout your trip: plastic bottles of water, utensils for food, cups in the hotel room, shopping bags, and so much more.
You can avoid the waste by packing your own reusable items, like canvas shopping bags and water bottles. If you are traveling to a country that recommends bottled water for visitors, try purchasing a water bottle with a built-in filter. You won’t have to request bottled water, but you’ll have the peace of mind knowing it has been filtered and is safe to drink.
Many countries have already banned single-use plastic bags in favor of compostable bags. Consider purchasing a reusable cloth bag at your destination for an affordable, eco-friendly souvenir to take home after your trip.
If you prefer to pack your own toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, call ahead to the hotel to request to go without the individual bottles. While some hotels have switched to in-wall units for soaps, many still hand out bottles – and even if you don’t use them, most hotels are required to dispose of them before the next guest. Forgot to call ahead? Pack them to bring home and donate them to a homeless shelter. They are often in need of travel-sized toiletries.
Hotels, hostels, and even some home rentals are known to be high water consumption businesses. What is the easiest way to use less water? Reuse your towel. Travelers have started to see cards, placed in the bathroom, encouraging guests to reuse their towels. Washing towels and sheets uses a large amount of water and energy for the property. The same goes for using the hotel’s laundry service. If you must wash your clothes, try hand washing. Oftentimes, you can find travel detergent packets with the other travel-sized items at your preferred retailer.
Another way to reduce your water usage is by taking showers instead of baths. HuffPost reports that not only are showers better for your skin, but they also use half the amount of water it takes to fill a bathtub.
Decrease your energy usage in your hotel by turning off the lights and A/C, shutting the curtains to keep light out, and turning off the tv when you leave the room.
Ethical travel operators will be completely transparent in their actions. If you ask how they're committed to being ethical, and they can't answer, chances are, they're not.
While researching destinations for your next adventure, consider finding an ethical location. What is the definition of an ethical location? That depends on what you, as a traveler, value most. Consider the following, in order of importance to you and your family, before booking a trip:
Another easy way to increase your “eco-travel” awareness is to check if your hotel has any eco-friendly practices. Google makes it easy while searching for your accommodations by listing properties as "eco-certified" based on four criteria: energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and sustainable sourcing.
If you are traveling to the U.S., you can also ask your hotel if they are LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Holding a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification represents the property’s commitment to sustainability, energy efficacy, and innovation.
Still having a difficult time deciding what aligns with your views? TravelPulse has a list of destinations deemed ethical to inspire your responsible wanderlust.
While grabbing souvenirs at the airport on your way back home may be easy, it’s not the best way to support the local community. Try shopping at a local market. These markets and shops are often owned and operated by local residents and carry items that are created within their communities. That destination sweatshirt may be tempting, but try bringing home something unique like local spices or a hand-woven blanket.
Supporting a local restaurant has an immediate impact on the local community and enjoying authentic fare is one of the best parts of traveling. If you're craving something specific, try searching on TripAdvisor.com. TripAdvisor is used in various countries for reviews of accommodations and restaurants. Yelp may be popular in the U.S. but isn’t globally known. Ask the hotel front desk or home rental host for recommendations as well. They usually know a few hidden gems that you won’t find on the review websites.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to change the way you travel all at once. You can jump right in and apply all of these recommendations or take baby steps over several trips. At the end of the day, it’s your effort that makes a difference. Together, by implementing these tips to travel more sustainably, we are taking steps to protect our beautiful world so that our future generations can enjoy travel for many years to come.
Ready to start planning your trip? Don’t forget to include protect your health and trip investment with an IMG Travel Insurance plan.
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