Green travel: How to make more eco-friendly holiday choices
30th January 2019
| Updated 28th November 2019
| 5 minute read
What if… What if Kermit was wrong? What if it is easy being green, and all that’s required is forming a few good habits that you can take with you where you go?
Here we look at some tips for lessening your environmental impact while on your adventures, so you can become the model eco-traveller.
There’s no two ways about it - most modes of transport are likely to have a negative environmental effect. But some means are greener than others:
Fly non-stop: If you have to fly, go direct. Flights burn most fuel during takeoff and landing, so the fewer you’re paying for, the better. Your airline may have a carbon offsetting program already in place, so double-check that. In good news, all international airlines will have to offset their CO2 emissions by 2021
Travel light: Depending on your trip, it’s not always possible… But if you can, jettison the larger bags and travel with hand-luggage only – for some help on slimming down your luggage, check out the Travel Hack’s 12 tips on quicker, lighter packing
Hire economical cars: If you’re hiring a car abroad, choose a hybrid vehicle to cut down on emissions. Choose as small and economical a car as you’re comfortable with. This could also save you money, which is a bonus. Use our eco-car comparison tool to help you make a greener choice
Share lifts: If you have a car, why not offer space to other travellers? In areas with well-established tourist trails, you’re likely to see notices asking for lifts in hostels and other visitor hot spots. Why not take them up on it? The fewer journeys that are made, the better - and you might even make friends for life!
How to be a respectful, green tourist
Why stop when the transit ends? Here are a few things to be mindful of when you get to your holiday destination:
Look into green hotels or sustainable board: Increasingly, those offering accommodation are becoming certified as eco-friendly, so check to see if their green credentials are up to scratch before your book. You could also ask if the hotel uses locally sourced products and hires local staff
Decline having your room cleaned each day: You’ll avoid the needless use of detergents and additional labour if you choose not to have your room made over each day. Most of us don’t strip our linens every day at home, so why do so on holiday? By the same token, it’s OK to reuse towels for a few days in a row, so hang them up to avoid them being replaced. Or use the ‘do not disturb’ sign to keep your living space as is, and avoid any laundry being done until after you’ve left
The little things add up: Though each instance may seem insignificant, getting into regular eco-conscious habits will add up over time. For instance, remember to turn off all lights and electrical equipment when you leave your board for the day. Take showers rather than baths to save water. And take partially used toiletries with you when you move on. They’ll only be thrown away and replaced otherwise, and plus you’ll have some with you for the next place.
Be mindful when out and about - responsible exploration
Use a local guide: For any organised trips you plan to do, use local companies and indigenous guides. This way, the money you spend is going back into the area’s economy. Plus, you can’t beat someone who’s spent years being truly intimate with the area for the best local knowledge
Stick to marked trails while hiking: Veering off designated routes is likely to have a negative ecological impact. For example, if you’re trekking on a mountain, you may be contributing to erosion if you don’t stay on the intended trail. Plus you’ll avoid harming local flora and creatures by sticking to the path. While we’re on the subject, steer clear of touching or feeding any local wildlife too
Pick up litter: If you see any discarded rubbish, why not do your bit and pop it the nearest bin
Tips for staying green at home and abroad
There are things you can do to lessen your impact that are universal, both worth practising locally and keeping up when you’re away:
Use public transport: Where you can, use buses or trains rather than cars or taxis. Not only is your environmental impact lessened, but you might also meet people! If you can walk or cycle around, even better - loads of cities around the world have city bikes schemes; keep your eyes peeled for the docking stations when you're our sightseeing
Avoid single use plastics - Forget disposable cups and bags, carry your own eco-friendly cups for hot drinks, refillable bottles for cold drinks, and sustainable bags for shopping
Eat and drink local: Keep an eye out for cafes, restaurants and eateries that use locally-sourced produce. This way, you’ll be minimising the impact of eating food that’s been transported - saving on fuel, shipping and packaging.