Being away from home and the responsibilities of everyday life not only gives you the freedom to reset, but immersing yourself in different cultures make you see other ways to live and be happy.
Indeed, happiness comes in many forms and, through the exploration of the world, you are reminded that life does not need much to be completely fulfilling.
But while travelling is so profoundly beneficial to our personal sustainability, it is important to consider the impact we have on the environment and host community. More and more hospitality brands are taking steps to become more sustainable but it is equally important for customers to take responsibility and travel in a conscious manner. We can not afford for low impact tourism to be a trend. We have rounded up here some travel-specific tips and tricks that we use to be more sustainable travellers.
1. Light luggage
When it comes to packing, the key is to think about what NOT to bring, rather than what to remember. For a short trip, it is always best to travel with hand luggage. Only pack your favourite items and think of ways you can re-wear them – for instance, pairing different tops with the same skirt, or layering pieces over the same dress. Take your own travel mug to taste the local coffee and refill your reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during a long haul journey and warm days.
2. Thoughtful sunscreen
Choose a product that fits your skin the best and doesn’t contain harmful ingredients which damage coral reefs. Waterlover Sun Milk by Biotherm is the result of seven years of research conducted by a team of 20 scientists who aimed to create a sunscreen respectful of aquatic life. Weleda has developed a range of waterproof mineral sunscreens where the active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work by sitting on top of skin to physically block UVA and UVB rays. The CITY shield photo-protector by Sepai prevents from the harmful effects caused by sunlight and environmental pollution through an exclusive formula DNA-Protect complex.
3. Slow itinerary
Slow travelling allows you to develop a stronger connection to the area you are visiting. In choosing experiences over sights and allowing flexibility in your schedule, you are more likely to find those magical serendipitous moments that happen when nothing much is going on. When planning your trip, leave time to enjoy unplanned moments too. Likewise, don’t dwell too much on the what-ifs, the risks or the problems you might face there; get out of your comfort zone and keep it spontaneous.
4. Local economy
Connect with the locals to learn about their lifestyle and regional cuisine. Listen to their best tips and insights on favourite locations, secret beaches and tourist traps. Participate in the local economy by shopping local ingredients in markets and favouring local restaurants and cafes over international chains.
5. Responsible wildlife tourism
Wildlife tourism can be tricky to navigate and it is essential to do some research. When selecting a lodge, look at the ones that invest in the local community. Campi Ya Kanzi in Kenya is run on 100% solar power and rain water and 90 per cent of its guides and trackers are from the local Maasai tribe. As a general rule, any safaris that involve touching or being photographed with animals should be avoided. You should never feed local wildlife either. I AM WATER Ocean Travel have a deep respect for marine life and, should they get the impression that their presence (in and out of water) stresses or disturbs an animal, they would distance themselves instantly even if this might limiting travellers’ interaction with the wildlife.
6. Sustainable stays
There are many ways hospitality brands can achieve sustainability. For example, Song Saa works with villages, governments, investors and donors to improve local livelihoods as well as to preserve marine life and rainforests. In order to create employment for the local communities, every SALT hotel has its own farm – using permaculture practices and hydroponics to yield diverse crops – and a vegetarian restaurant, offering a menu based on daily harvest and fishermen’s catch. Lagos offers another variation of sustainability by enabling its customers to choose their carbon footprint by deciding how often they want their rooms cleaned, sheets laundered and toiletries replaced.
7. Carbon offset programmes
To compensate your carbon footprint you can make donations to projects designed to reduce CO2 emissions. Some airlines provide customers with the option of a carbon offset programme. But even if yours doesn’t, you can sign up to trusted companies like Future Planet, Less Emissions and CO2 Logic.
8. Avoid over-tourism
According to the Global Sustainability Dashboard, nearly half of tourism’s economic impact comes from just ten destinations, putting a strain on that location’s resources. Choose a lesser-visited city over somewhere over-visited, and travel at off-peak times of year to minimise impact. Venice receives 200m visitors a year for example, yet has a population of around 270k. Non-profit Green Destinations publishes an annual list of the top 100 sustainable destinations – worth a look if you’re trip-planning.
9. Travel methods
When travelling in Europe to a short-haul destination, favour trains and buses that produce less CO2 emissions. In the same line, discover a region by foot or by bike for a fully immersive experience.
Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to plan a staycation: exploring your city as a tourist and identifying charming new corners is an exciting opportunity to check out from your everyday routine. In London, it is easy to soak in a different atmosphere as you change borough and we are lucky to have so many museums and parks peppered across the city. Central London Hotel Café Royal is Regent Street’s gem: from an award-winning waste management system to locally sourced menus, the hotel combines British style with sustainable values.
Article for Positive Luxury.