We look for sustainable options at the grocery store when shopping for home appliances – why not when traveling, too? According to a 2019 study by Booking.com, over half (55%) of travelers responding wanted to make more sustainable travel choices. And the benefits are clear, from a deepened connection to the place you're visiting, to a tangible positive impact for the planet. But it can sometimes be challenging to know where to start. Here are ten tips to help you start traveling more sustainably.
When you're on the road, it's so easy to accumulate more single-use waste than when you're at home. Utensils with your takeout, plastic bags when you stop at the store for more sunscreen, and tiny shampoo bottles from the hotel all add up over time. Try bringing along your own instead. You can pick up reusable utensils, water bottles, and straws to toss in your purse. You can also stock your cosmetic bag with refillable bottles (that meet TSA size guidelines if you're flying) so you can help eliminate unnecessary waste.
When your accommodation takes sustainability seriously, it makes a difference in your experience, knowing that you're supporting a business that's making greener choices for the community and the planet. It can be hard to know what hotels are actually committed to the environment. But look for badges like the Wyndham Green Certification Program to help you pick a place to stay that keeps sustainability top of mind. Highline Adventures properties, for example, prioritize sustainable initiatives from water conservation to solar installation at all of their campgrounds, hotels, and vacation rentals. You'll have peace of mind with an intentional hospitality company knowing that they're doing their part as you travel.
The carbon emissions from travel can be a significant part of your annual carbon footprint. Purchasing carbon credits helps reduce that impact. Western Sustainability Exchange (WSE), an organization in Livingston, Montana, collects purchased carbon credits that they use to pay ranchers and other land stewards for sequestering carbon on grasslands through regenerative grazing practices. It's a great way to help the local environment when you visit Montana directly. That's why we partner with WSE at Highline Adventures.
Transportation packs one of the biggest environmental punches. When you're away from home, reducing the amount of time spent on planes and in cars per trip means you're automatically reducing your ecological impact. Slow down and take your time to enjoy each spot you visit, and really get to know each place.
The carbon footprint of travelers on a flight is significantly larger than traveling by car or train – over 12 times more for a family of four traveling together. When flying is necessary, taking direct flights can help minimize the impact, as can purchasing carbon credits.
Hotel breakfasts are notorious for plastic packaging and creating waste. Instead of dining at your lodging's breakfast buffet, opt for a morning meal at a local cafe instead. It cuts down on waste and helps the local economy at the same time.
On the social side of the sustainability equation, staying in locally-owned accommodation helps put more money back into your destination's economy. Keep in mind, many hotels with national names are actually franchises. So just because a hotel has a name you recognize, doesn't mean it isn't locally-owned.
Sustainably goes beyond environmentalism. It also looks at the social aspect of economic sustainability. Finding activities that support local businesses goes a long way to keep local areas viable for tourism in years to come.