People are becoming more aware of environmental issues and how they can lessen their environmental footprint, especially when it comes to travel. Travelers often have good intentions but can make more harm than good if they’re not aware. Here are the top mistakes to avoid when eco-traveling so you can avoid them on your next trip.
1. Not choosing eco-friendly transport
Deciding on the best way to get to the destination and getting around is a common mistake made by travelers. Flying is obviously a big problem for the environmental impact and carbon footprint, and it’s worse when you fly first class or take a flight with multiple transfers. It also helps to fly with carry on instead of checked baggage to decrease the overall weight of the plane. Another problem with heavier packing is the risk that you’ll take private transportation once at your destination instead of public transportation.
While you’re on vacation, you should try to take as much public transportation as possible to lower your carbon footprint. If possible, consider biking to explore a place in a different way; many cities in developed countries have great biking routes. You should also try avoid heading to multiple different destinations in one trip, like trying to squeeze in many European cities instead of staying in one place.
2. Choosing the wrong accommodation
Choosing where to stay when on vacation can be complicated for some travelers. It’s normal to look for a spot that feels comfortable, especially a big resort or hotel. The problem with this is that these companies aren’t often very eco-friendly and the money isn’t staying in the local economy. The problem with using Airbnb is that sometimes this platform contributes to a rise in rental costs in a city and the displacement of local citizens. The best thing to do to avoid this problem is to only book a place where the owner also lives on the property, so the money goes directly into the community.
You should also try to book using an eco-friendly booking site, which will vet accommodations for reusable energy initiatives, home-grown food, and sustainability housekeeping and amenities.
3. Booking the wrong tours and guides
There are some major environmental problems with tours and guides, specifically when it comes to wildlife tourism. While people love going on safari, animal tourism is a tough subject. At a minimum, you should absolutely avoid activities like elephant riding, tiger petting, and swimming with dolphins. Anything that involves interacting with animals most likely contributes to serious animal mistreatment and goes against wildlife conservation values.
Another issue here is choosing tour operators that don’t pay their guides and workers living wages. This is a very common practice in companies based out of Tanzania and Nepal in the trekking industry.
4. Not packing properly
It’s important to pack in a way that will reduce waste when we’re on holiday. For example, bring a reusable alternative so you don’t have to use the small hotel bottles of toiletries. You should also bring a reusable water bottle so you can refill it in airports instead of buying plastic bottles. Instead of using the plastic utensils on a flight and on the god, bring a set of reusable utensils and snacks in your carry on so you can eat healthy and non-wastefully.
Just because you’re somewhere other than your home, it doesn’t mean it’s okay to litter. Even if there isn’t a great garbage or recycling program in the place you’re visiting, you should make the extra effort to properly dispose of your trash. Plastic trash especially can have serious consequences for wildlife, humans, and our environment, and there’s plastic pollution everywhere. When you’re traveling, even if you see locals throwing trash on the ground, it doesn’t make it okay for you to throw all your eco-friendly habits from home out the window.
When you’re traveling, wasting is a big problem and one to avoid at all costs. It’s important to be aware of what you’re using and whether you need that much. For example, if you’re somewhere where water is harder to access, limit the water you use, especially when showering as this can have a serious impact on the community. You should also be aware of how much food you’re ordering and whether you’ll be sending it back or not.
The main thing is doing the best we can to make environmentally friendly choices when we travel, just as much as in our everyday lives. You should treat the destinations you travel with like you’d want your own home to be treated and travel in a more sustainable way.
Ellie Coverdale is a travel writer and blogger for Academized. She loves writing about her top travel destinations and how to be eco-friendlier in everything that you do. In her free time, she goes for long hikes in the mountains with her dogs Jay and Marley.