Sustainable Travel - How To Sustainably Travel Abroad

Thursday, September 10, 2020

With lockdown measures easing, travel is becoming more accessible again. While this is exciting news, it means that the pollution levels will rise again. If your heart is set on travelling, here are 8 ways to reduce your carbon footprint. From your mode of transport to the way you spend your money, there are so many ways to travel sustainably!

The image shows a travel flatlay. In the image, there are polaroid photos, sandals, a camera and a laptop. They are sitting on a wooden desktop next to an open suitcase filled with clothing

Stay At Eco-Friendly Accommodation

Many countries offer eco-friendly accommodation which is carbon neutral and self-sufficient. Whether you're having a staycation or travelling abroad, there are many eco-friendly offerings for you to consider. Some resorts will be carbon-neutral. This means that they will likely make their own electricity. The carbon they release into the air will be offset by positive actions. Others locations may be strictly plastic-free. 

These places are beautiful and offer so much for your money. If you visit one of these eco-hotels, make sure you treat the surroundings with respect. Avoid walking on the grass if there are paths. Take your rubbish home and respect any rules that are in place. Many of them have eco-friendly spas and cultural experiences for you to indulge in. This gives you something fun and affordable to do on your stay! Here are some gorgeous places that you could consider!

  • Six Senses, Con Dao, Vietnam
  • The Scarlet, Cornwall, UK
  • The Zetter Hotel, London, UK
  • Blue Apple, Columbia
  • Cuixmala, Mexico
  • Garonga, South Africa
  • Whitepod, Switzerland

Think About Your Transport

Where possible, take a boat, rather than a plane. If you can't avoid air travel, fly with a carbon-neutral airline. There are lots of airlines that are trying to reduce their carbon emissions. You may be thinking, how can an airline be eco-friendly? Older planes are less fuel-efficient, while newer planes are better designed to reduce drag and fuel consumption. Some airlines are changing the materials used and even what they offer onboard the flight. Swapping to sustainably sourced seat fabric and ditching the plastic packets of crisps are some ideas that airlines are swapping to. If your flight is long-haul, book a flight that doesn't stop. It may feel long for you, but it's more eco-friendly. 

Other ways you can travel sustainably is by walking or cycling. Once you're at your destination, rent a bike and cycle around! Cycling is a fun way to explore your destination. It is better for your health and body as well! If you're unable to cycle or walk, use public transport or rent an electric car. These ways aren't perfect, but they're better than other options. It can be hard to travel sustainably, but these are ways to reduce your carbon footprint instead. 

Spend Your Money Locally

Instead of buying from global tour companies and chain restaurants, buy from local, small sellers. Your money will be more appreciated, and you'll be helping the locals. Visit markets, independent cafes and wildlife reserves if you're looking to spend your pennies. Spending your money on the local area is better for sustainability. If you spend with big chains, the money will most likely end up back in your own economy. But, when you buy locally, it puts money in their economy and can help their way of life. You may find that less developed countries use old cars and boats to get around. These can leak oil into the sea or emit more fumes than newer cars. By helping their economy, you're allowing them to reinvest it into more sustainable solutions to their way of life. 

When you're visiting another country and using their resources, it's better to support them. If you're stuck, do your research beforehand. Don't be afraid to speak to the locals about their own recommendations. You might find some hidden gems! While we are on the topic of the local area, it may be worth thinking about their culture. Some places are naturally more eco-friendly. Countries that follow a more plant-based diet will have lower carbon emissions. Respect the culture and maybe consider following their diet for the duration of your trip. If meat and animal products aren't the main menu item, order something different! It's also nice to try different food while you're away. 

Don't Leave Waste

Whatever you go with, bring it back with you. Don't leave waste, especially if it goes straight to a landfill. Most developed countries ship landfill waste to less-developed places, meaning their quality of life is more toxic straight away. Don't add to it even more. Avoid disposable razors, single-use plastics and buying products with unrecyclable packaging. There are so many swaps you can make to avoid leaving waste. 

You can swap disposable razors for metal alternatives and plastic bottles with reusable steel ones. You can buy naked products from local markets. There are so many things you can do to make your trip less wasteful. Leaving waste, especially litter can harm the environment. Use a bin or take the rubbish home with you. There is no excuse for littering. If you see any litter on your tip, please pick it up. It may not be yours, but the planet is shared by all of us. You could always volunteer for a local litter pick and help the community further. I am sure they would appreciate your help, and you'll forever leave a positive mark on that country!

Do Green Activities

It's tempting to drive cars around island dirt tracks or see the city from the sky. If you're trying to reduce your carbon footprint, it is worth looking into green activities. Hiking, volunteering and safaris are all eco-friendly activities that you could try. It will be hard to remain carbon neutral, but some activities are better than others. You could also live like a local and visit libraries, museums and markets as a form of entertainment. Research the local area to see what they offer. You might find some amazing eco-friendly activities!

Most places offer gorgeous scenery, so why not get lost in nature! See if you can find any bike or hiking trails to explore. Sometimes, you don't have to compromise when it comes to your holiday. For example, natural hot springs make a great alternative for spa days. Climbing mountains are better than working out in an air-conditioned gym. Your holiday doesn't have to change just because you're going down a more sustainable route. There are plenty of things to do that embrace nature and keep you happy.

Source Your Food Ethically 

It's easy to order your favourite dish from a menu, but do you know where the food has come from? If you're making your own food, it's worth looking into local markets and purchasing from independent businesses. Most sellers would have grown the food themselves without pesticides and chemicals. Not only is that better for the environment, but it's better for your body too. If it's grown locally, the food miles will also be lower. It's worth asking them if you're unsure. Cooking your own food is cheaper too, saving you some money while you are away. 

When you're eating out, consider if the food is native to the country. Importing food uses a lot of carbon for transportation. If you're having a sustainable vacation, see if you can only eat from restaurants that source locally. It's also important to indulge in the local culture! If your destination avoids meat or dairy, that's a small change to make for just a week. Try to avoid leaving food waste as well. Whether you cook at home or eat out, make sure you consume what you buy. Precious resources go into making food, especially animal products. It would be a shame it waste it. 

Do Your Research

Every country has its own rules and regulations. It's important to know what they're doing to move towards a sustainable future. For example, did you know that Zero Island in Sweden turned carbon neutral in just a year! Research the issues that your destination is facing, and see what you can do to help that. If your country has deforestation issues, maybe you could plant some trees. If your destination has animal poaching issues, try to volunteer at a wildlife reserve. 

Many of the hotels I spoke about earlier have wildlife reserves. Making a donation, volunteering or visiting them can make a massive difference. It's also worth researching about the local area and seeing what local businesses you can support. Knowing where your money will go is important when travelling sustainably. You don't want to be financing big, unethical corporations unknowingly. You'd be surprised just how many small businesses a corporate business owns or has an interest in! I have a long list of eco-friendly documentaries that are informative and helpful for those wanting a more sustainable lifestyle. 

The image is a flatlay which shows a passport, perfume and notebook all laying on a white table

Travelling is an amazing experience, and we can do it responsibly. There are so many amazing places out there that are going carbon neutral. I'd love to visit all of the places I have listed, and am excited to start travelling in the future. Research is the key to pulling off eco-friendly holidays. What eco-friendly resort would you like to visit? Let me know what you've been doing to travel sustainably! 

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  1. These are great ideas! Honestly I don't think I've ever really thought about sustainable travel like this, but there are so many easy things that you can do to make a difference. I really like your ideas of spending money locally and getting food ethically

  2. These are great ideas for travelling sustainably, I love the list of places to stay that are sustainable! x

    Lucy |

  3. Love this! Not only are you helping the planet by these actions, you’re also pushing the travel industry to a more sustainable mindset. I’ll definitely take these into account when I travel next time!

  4. Love this post! I've never thought about sustainable travel. There are so many ways to make a difference to help our environment. I'll keep these ideas in mind next time I go abroad.

    Rashidah x |

  5. Suuper useful post! I try to do all those when I travel both out of respect for the people of the place and for the environment. True, they don't always work out but I am trying :) Thanks for encouraging and offering ideas and help to those who are interested in sustainable travel!


  6. These are really good tips! I love to travel but I've become much more eco conscious this year an I want to make sure I apply some of these tips when I do get to travel again! Great post

  7. Thanks for sharing these tips, the all good for ways to reduce our carbon footprint when travelling :)

    Nic | Nic's Adventures & Bakes

  8. These tips were so helpful, thanks for sharing! Will definitely be keeping these in mind when I travel next! :) xx