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SUSTAINABLE TOURISM: 5 TIPS TO TRAVEL SUSTAINABLY

This Sustainable Wednesday edition centers around the concept of sustainable tourism and traveling. In this article, we provide you essential and useful tips to plan your travels in the most sustainable way possible. 

Words By Sophie Badaoui 

27/10/2021

No matter the destination, traveling and getting out of your comfort zone is always a good idea. Indeed, traveling stimulates personal growth and allows you to discover new cultures, contemplate groundbreaking landscapes and live unforgettable experiences. However, most of us do it mindlessly, in the sense that we do not take into account the economic, social and environmental well being of our travel destination.

According to the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization), sustainable tourism is “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”. We are aware of the fact that tourism will never be completely sustainable because let’s face it, every industry has its impacts, but together, we can work towards making tourism more sustainable. This issue is particularly important as tourism has tremendously high effects on local economies, wildlife and habitats, natural resources, and increases pollution in terms of climate and atmosphere, and water.

This article aims to give you a short but mindful list of tips to consider as you plan your next getaway, for a more sustainable way of traveling. Enjoy your beautiful destination and care for its people, its nature and its economy!

1. Slow down

We all know how exciting and fulfilling it may feel to embark on a multi-destination trip in a short time, bouncing from city to city like a busy traveling bee; but why not try to stay in one place for a while? This might be the opportunity for you to really explore one chosen destination, meeting the local community and rightfully embrace the culture. Plus, it will automatically reduce your carbon emissions as you stay in one place longer.

2. Choose the right way of transportation

Choosing the right way of transportation is a major part of sustainable traveling, as it aims to limit your carbon footprint. Indeed, around 8% of the world’s carbon emissions are due to tourism and traveling, thus affecting climate change. Even if all options require energy, some of them, such as cars and planes, are more nefarious than others. Opt for the train to get to your destination, and once you are there, use the bus, walk or rent a bike instead of renting a car. If you do rent a car, try to go for an electric one. 

However, you should keep in mind that the most sustainable transportation option will most likely depend on your destination, as the carbon footprint depends on the type of energy used in a particular region or city. For example, trains in the Netherlands run with wind energy, while in Washington DC, buses have zero emissions. In order to be truly mindful, do your research on the destination you are going to and check the most sustainable way of transportation.

3. Support the local economy and community

Another way to travel sustainably is to choose local hotels or family homes that employ locals. This way, you will not only support the local economy, but immerse yourself in the culture, getting to know the locals and expand your horizons. This will also allow you to observe their lifestyle and understand their history and heritage. Experience intercultural connection and embrace it!

4. Explore local travel and avoid overtourism

Who would not be intrigued by the hot spots of this season and would want to book a trip to a trendy, extremely touristic destination? You see, the problem is that by choosing so, you are automatically contributing to overtourism, which usually happens in those places. Why not start by exploring your own surroundings before going where everybody goes? We often take our own region for granted by thinking we already know it well, but you would be surprised to see the hidden treasures of your own city or country.

5. Avoid adding to your destination’s plastic waste

Unfortunately, good recycling systems are still not very common in most destinations, so in order to be a sustainable traveler, be mindful of the plastic waste you generate. Think of the other sustainable travelers who will come after you and would want to swim in a clean ocean, and walk around in clean streets! Needless to say, this would be a good way of preserving, respecting and honoring the city and community that is hosting you.