Sustainable travel is one of the most talked-about ways of seeing the world right now but, as we know at Country Living, it goes far deeper than following a travel trend.
With almost 4.6 billion flight passengers expected to take to the skies this year (130% more than in 2004) and 86% of the world's travellers saying they would be willing to spend time on activities that offset the environmental impact of their stay, there's never been a better time for an eco-friendly holiday.
We know you're already clued-up when it comes to sustainability, but we wanted to remind you of the easy ways you can care for the planet and give you some tips for being a greener traveller on your next adventure.
Here, we look at how you can offset your carbon footprint while exploring the world and have spoken to the experts at two of our favourite sustainable travel companies, G Adventures and Intrepid Travel, for advice on planning an eco-trip.
Live like a local
This is an obvious tip but one that's really important and can have major effects (both positive and negative) on the people who live in your holiday destination. Immersing yourself in a place can help put money in the pockets of those who need it and ensures your holiday experience remains authentic.
As Aaron Hocking, the managing director of Intrepid Travel, which specialises in ethical tours, puts its: "Support locally owned businesses wherever you can – hotels, restaurants and tour guides.
"Eat local food and drink local brands and brews. Use public transport, hire a bike or walk where possible – it’s a great way to meet local people and get to know the place."
Take sunscreen that doesn't harm the ocean
Travelling to a location with fewer crowds, steering clear of endangered places and giving back to local communities are some of the eco-travel tips you've probably already heard. It's also important to consider how the smaller details of our travels could have a large impact, such as the products we're carrying.
We all know it's important to protect yourself from the sun, but what if your trusted water-resistant sunscreen is killing coral along the way? Thankfully, skincare brands are waking up to how harmful chemicals can destroy fragile marine environments.
When buying sun cream, you can opt for something that's natural and reef-friendly, like Green People's Scent Free SPF30 or REN's Clean Screen Mineral SPF30. Packing eco-friendly travel accessories or environmentally-friendly swimwear made from recycled materials will also help the planet while you enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature.
While the first thing you may consider when booking an eco-friendly holiday is where to visit – whether it's a lesser-known alternative to an overcrowded spot or somewhere to get involved in volunteerism – you can help out by choosing eco-accommodation.
By choosing a hotel that's giving back to the planet, you'll help reduce your carbon footprint while you snooze and you don't have to compromise on the luxuries either. Hilton Seychelles Northolme, for instance, launched a coral nursery to help protect and preserve the marine and reef life in the Seychelles. While staying here, you can visit the coral nursery and adopt a piece of coral to help support the project.
Being more environmentally conscious is about being more mindful of your surroundings. Use less water if you're in an area that experiences droughts, if you're unsure if there will be recycling facilities available leave as much packaging as possible at home (or take it home with you) and don't feed the local wildlife.
Using local transport, learning a few words in the language of the country you're visiting and buying local produce don't only offer advantages to the local community but gives you a more enriching holiday experience.
It's tricky visiting a far-flung destination without taking a flight but there are still ways to be a more responsible flyer. Book direct flights to your destination and take fewer trips. Better yet, why not consider travelling closer to home for your next holiday?
Country Living's rail holiday in Scotland offers amazing experiences in the picturesque Highlands for a dream getaway you can tick off your bucket list. Travelling by train on a far-flung escape will also make you a more eco-conscious explorer.
If you're visiting Japan, for instance, riding its famous bullet trains are not only a great way to be green, but also offers an exhilarating experience you can't have anywhere else.
Interacting with children
It’s almost inevitable that you'll come into contact with children at some point on your trip, so it’s important to think about how these interactions can affect the children. Jamie Sweeting, Vice President of Social Enterprise & Responsible Travel at G Adventures, says: "We always recommend starting with the question, 'what would you do at home?' Follow that up with the motto, 'If you wouldn’t do it here, don’t do it anywhere.'"
"This covers everything from photography with children to offering gifts and visiting school classrooms. If you wouldn’t walk up to a child on the streets in your hometown and take a photo without their parent’s permission, then why would it be ok to do it while abroad?
"Likewise, when it comes to giving presents to children while on your travels, we recommend first and foremost that you never give a gift to a child without a parent or guardian’s permission. Secondly, only give a present to a child that you have a meaningful relationship with.
He adds: "For example, if you have spent a week living in a homestay with a local family you can ask the parents what they think about giving the kids a gift. Inappropriate “giving” to children when travelling can lead to children being forced to stay out of school to beg, leading to a cycle of dependency and poverty."
Source: Country Living
14 Feb 2023
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