Tourism operators and travel destinations have seen fewer tourists in the past 18 months, and while that’s been detrimental for businesses, it’s been positive for the environment. The lack of tourists has given nature the chance to regenerate. As such, those looking forward are seeking ways to ensure their travel is socially responsible and environmentally friendly.
According to NASA reports, researchers found that between February 2020 and November 2021, the restrictions from the pandemic had reduced the global nitrogen dioxide by almost 20%. While luxuries like eating out at restaurants and travel are starting to emerge again, people are more mindful and looking at sustainable alternatives. If you’re planning a holiday and want to do it with as little impact on the environment as possible, here are some suggestions.
1) Dust off the camping gear
No matter where you live in the world, there are always plenty of options for camping. Not only is it an affordable option, potentially saving thousands of dollars for a week’s accommodation, it’s also environmentally friendly. By not checking into a fancy hotel that emits carbon for every light that’s turned on, you’re reducing your carbon footprint. Not to mention, there’s nothing quite like looking up at the stars at night rather than staring at a big screen TV.
2) Stick to cars and trains
An hour on a plane compared to six hours in the car might make logistical sense, but it’s not sustainable. Planes produce jet fuel, which turns into a greenhouse gas. Instead, take yourself on a road trip.
Pack your bags, put them in your car, hire a campervan, buy a train ticket, and get out there and adventure. By taking the road or rail rather than plane, you’ll see a lot more, and save emissions.
3) Buy locally
If you’re after delicious foods, there’s no better place to start than the local markets. The pandemic in 2020 meant that many markets shut down, and as a result, many small producers lost their livelihoods. As they begin to open up again, you can do your part by shopping with them, rather than with large supermarkets.
And instead of hitting well-known junk food chains for dinner, head to a locally owned restaurant instead. You’ll have the chance to taste a variety of local dishes made with fresh products, and you’ll be supporting small businesses at the same time.
4) Remember to conserve
While a holiday is generally a time to splurge, it’s also a time to be more conscious about what you’re doing environmentally. It might be tempting to have longer showers while you know someone else is paying the bill, but it’s not good for the planet. Be mindful.
Avoid the use of disposable plastics, take your own water bottle and a travel mug so you can fill it up, rather than buying drinks, and treat wildlife with respect. You can also help save on washing by using towels and washers more than once if you’re at a hotel and turn lights and appliances off when not being used.
5) Stay closer to home
If you truly want to embrace greener travel, stay close to home. A staycation will help you to avoid public transport, airport operations, and cars – and you can still enjoy a holiday away from the house.
It could be that you live in the suburbs and book yourself into a hotel or airbnb in the city center, or you take yourself to a nearby national park to explore the local scenery. By staying close to home you’ll not only save emissions, but you’ll also have the chance to learn more about your local area.
6) Unplug to unwind
Taking a holiday should be just that – time to turn off the technology, relax and unwind, as much as possible. By doing this, you’re also playing a part in saving the environment. Before you go, check that you have any appliances at home turned off that you won’t be using – the television, computers, toaster, kettle, and so on.
Then, when you’re away, avoid using your phone and tablet, so you don’t have to charge them often. By unplugging while you’re away, you’re not only conserving energy, but you’re also giving your eyes and brain a break.
The key to a sustainable holiday is to think minimalist. The closer you stay to home, the less you take with you, and the more you eat and shop locally – the more efficient your holiday will be.