It might not be holiday season right now, but many of us will already be looking at booking our summer jollies. In 2018, 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals were registered, a 6% rise from the previous year.
The market itself is worth around £1.3 trillion. As cheap flights dominate modern tourism, the travel industry is booming exponentially. Indeed, you might be getting the credit card out as we speak to book your next week of fun! While it’s all well and good that we get to enjoy all corners of the world with relative ease these days, the question of the environmental footprint of our adventures is only growing more prominent as well. As a society, we are becoming more eco-conscious, making better decisions with our day-to-day consumer goods and actions, however holidays tend to be a point where we forget about that side of things.
This summer, you have the chance to make a difference when it comes to your eco-footprint. If you want to know how, here are four simple things to bear in mind when booking and enjoying your trip.
While it may seem obvious that the destination you choose will have a bearing on your environmental impact, there is more to choosing a location based on how far away it is. Many locations are working to combat climate change through the likes of sustainable tourism or protecting their natural habitat, the best of which are documented in the Sustainable Destinations Top 100.
You’ll find towns and cities all over the world, particularly in the likes of Slovenia, Portugal and Indonesia, who are putting legitimate sustainability plans into action. Show your support by visiting them, or of course you can limit your footprint by keeping things local.
Your travel, both to your chosen destination and while you’re there, is likely to have the biggest impact on your carbon footprint while holidaying.
Now, travelling by aeroplane may be unavoidable for some, but you can look to reduce your personal impact on the flight by lowering the weight of your bags. The less weight the plane has to carry, the less fuel it has to burn, thus the lower its carbon emissions. A small gesture, but if we all did it…
Once you’ve arrived, make an effort to move around the location resourcefully. Whether that’s walking where possible or taking rudimentary local transport over a taxi (for example, a traditional rickshaw if you were travelling in Asia), you’ll be surprised by the difference a little careful consideration makes.
If you are feeling particularly guilty about taking a flight, you can visit Myclimate to make a donation that will offset your carbon emissions.
While you’re travelling light, it makes sense to bring some of your own amenities which you know are responsibly sourced and packaged. Don’t leave it until the last minute and grab the mini toiletries at the airport – they’re very much non-biodegradable.
If you’re staying at a hotel that provides you with all the typical toiletry freebies, pack them up and take them home with you and donate them to a homeless shelter. Then you know they’re being put to good use.
Once of the best things you can do is understand your responsibility as a traveller to act appropriately and economically while away. All of the above falls into this, but there are a number of other things to be wary of.
Start with the simple stuff: remember to turn your hotel lights off; don’t buy any single use plastics while out there; definitely don’t litter. If you’re feeling committed, look to only support brands you know are eco-conscious while you’re travelling.
A rather new but very important issue to consider is your social media influence. The Instagram travel generation have done so much geotagging that previously little known places and trails are now teeming with visitors looking to get the same shot they’ve seen online, damaging the local region and overstretching its resources. It’s a very real problem, and one you would do well to avoid contributing.
The aim of your holiday should be to effectively leave no trace. Try to have as little effect as you possibly can on your destination. That means clearing up after yourself, using your own eco-friendly products and sharing your journey with only those that deserve it the most.
For the time being, travelling without some form of footprint is virtually impossible, however you can take various steps to ensure you’re doing what you can to keep your personal impact to a minimum. No one expects you to be Greta Thunberg, just a better version of your holidaying-self going forward.