Over the past few years, environmental sustainability has certainly become a hot topic. If, on the one hand, climate change and the effects of global warming are now under everyone's eyes, on the other hand, the need to balance the justifiable necessities of twenty-first century individuals with respect for the environment that surrounds us is becoming increasingly pressing. This can really become a great challenge for those of us who love to travel and discover new realities, often far from home. So here are some useful tips for you to continue to travel in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.
Some people would say that the only way to travel sustainably is to stop travelling. However, this is true only in part: responsible tourism, in fact, produces wealth and value, often in geographical areas where, otherwise, this would not be possible. Therefore, the solution is not to stop travelling, but to change the way we do it, favoring sustainable destinations and making practical choices that reduce our impact on the territories and the environment. Here, then, some useful advice to get started!
Choosing the destination
The first step to travel in a sustainable way is to choose the right destination. Think about it: how many times have you found wonderful places and unique destinations on social networks and then discovered that they are just a step away from your home? We are all so focused on finding exotic and faraway destinations that we don’t realize how much beauty we are surrounded by! That’s why the first tip is certainly to favor destinations close to us, easily reachable by public transport or less polluting means of transport. This does not mean renouncing the wonderful destinations of which the world is full, but simply doing our part in the difficult balance between the desire for discovery and respect for the environment.
Reaching your destination by a sustainable means of transport
In the past 20 years, greenhouse gas emissions from air travel have more than doubled. In particular, short flights are the main contributors to this type of air pollution as more fuel is consumed during take-off and landing. This is why it is estimated that taking a plane to go on vacation has a greater impact on global warming than domestic heating or travelling by car for an entire year.
Therefore, the advice is to opt for more sustainable alternatives such as trains and regular buses to reach medium or short range destinations. The rail transport network in Europe is extensive and well connected! Travelling by train is also, in our opinion, easier and less stressful. Not to mention the beautiful landscapes that you will have the privilege to admire during the trip!
Move in a sustainable way once at your destination
Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll probably have to decide how to get around during your stay. As travelers always eager for new discoveries, we think the best way to explore a location and get to know its true essence is to mingle with the locals and behave as one of its inhabitants would act. Walking, where possible, or choosing public transport – bus and metro – for your movements allows, in fact, to combine in the best way the desire for discovery with environmental sustainability. Nowadays many cities offer their visitors discounted fares or day passes in order to promote sustainable mobility. Moreover, at least here in Switzerland, many destinations offer free transportation cards for travelers staying in one of the city’s hotels. So always check your options carefully before booking your rental car! Also, for an even more sustainable visit, why not opt for a bike sharing service?
Choosing your hotel
In recent years, the topic of impact on the environment has also entered the world of tourist accommodation. Large hotels, in fact, with their numerous guests’ turnover, have a big impact on the consumption of chemical and disposable products. For this reason, many hotels have opted for sustainable solutions based on particular choices of purchase and consumption. A sustainable hotel can, for example, be committed to the search for energy autonomy through renewable energy or opt for local or zero kilometer food products. They can also apply careful waste separation and recycling methods or renovate paying particular attention to energy saving and reduction of heat loss.
To facilitate change and to make it easier for consumers to make the best choice, in recent years many environmental labels and certifications have been created, such as Green Key, Ecolabel or B Corporation. Moreover, contrary to what you might think choosing an eco-sustainable accommodation will not cost you more! Did you already know, for example, that at the end of 2021 also Booking.com* has introduced a “Travel Sustainable Badge”? This is an internal classification of the most popular booking platform to identify and reward accommodation facilities that apply virtuous behavior in waste reduction, energy and water saving, environmental protection and support to local communities.
So think about it the next time you need to book an accommodation!
Tips and tricks for a sustainable stay
Regardless of the big travel choices, such as transportation and hotels, we can all opt for seemingly small behaviors that can instead have a big impact in containing our ecological footprint. Here are a few:
– Less single-use plastic and more reusable products. Single-use plastic has a huge impact on our planet’s health! So, during a vacation, try to give up mineral water! Instead, buy a good water bottle to carry with you and fill it with tap water. In most western destinations, in fact, the water in hotels and apartments is drinkable, controlled and of good quality. So why opt for mineral water? The same goes for disposable tableware: plastic cups, plates and cutlery are polluting and easily dispersed into the environment. Therefore, opt for reusable and washable solutions!
– Take your hygiene products with you. Do you know how many disposable plastic containers are consumed in a hotel every day? Not to mention the hygiene products they contain, often only opened and not used, which are thrown away daily during the cleaning and preparation of the rooms. We are talking, of course, about the small containers of soaps and shampoos that are on display in hotel rooms. Many facilities, in recent years, have tried to implement responsible behavior by replacing, for example, disposable containers with wall-mounted dispensers. We, however, prefer to suggest that you buy reusable containers and fill them with your products. This way you will help the environment and be fully aware and informed about the products you are going to use.
– Do you really need to change your towels every day? Probably not. How many times have you had to replace a towel that you never used or used very little? Yet it’s important to remember that washing room linen is, for a hotel, one of the activities with the highest environmental impact. That’s why more and more hotels are suggesting to their guests to reuse towels whenever possible and ask for them to be washed only when necessary. Less washing, less chemicals wasted and more energy saved.
– What are you taking home with you? Certainly wonderful memories…and some souvenirs! However, try to forget about objects produced on the other side of the globe and of questionable taste such as fridge magnets and improbable pens and opt instead for local handicrafts! You’ll help the local economy and you’ll certainly have the chance to take something really unique with you.
Now you know what to do for travelling in a sustaibable way. So, no excuses and start today! What about you? Do you have any tips for travelling in an environmentally friendly way? Which behaviors are you already applying and which ones do you really don’t like and carefully avoid? If you like, tell us by leaving a comment in the box below!