As travelers increasingly seek meaningful connections and responsibility on their journeys, sustainable tourism rises in popularity. This socially conscious form of travel aims to protect the destinations we explore.
Follow these guidelines for traveling sustainably. Learn how to reduce your environmental footprint, respect local cultures, support communities, and preserve our endangered planet.
With growing consciousness surrounding climate change, more travelers feel committed to exploring responsibly. Sustainable tourism allows us to broaden our horizons — not our carbon footprints.
What is Sustainable Travel?
Sustainable travel seeks to minimize the negative impacts of tourism on communities, cultures, and environments worldwide. It promotes responsible decisions benefiting local economies, societies, and ecosystems.
By traveling thoughtfully, tourists can protect irreplaceable destinations for the future. We all win through socially conscious exploration.
Why is Sustainable Travel Important?
It combats issues caused by conventional tourism like:
- Environmental damage from travel emissions
- Disrespect of local cultural traditions
- Economic leakage when tourism dollars don’t stay locally
Sustainable travel means we tread lightly, safeguarding planetary and community wellbeing.
The Benefits of Sustainable Travel
Conscientious travel benefits local populations, travelers and the planet through:
- Preserving cultures, heritage sites, and natural habitats
- Strengthening communities with tourism dollars spent locally
- Reducing pollution, emissions, waste and over-tourism
- Providing travelers with meaningful immersion and transformation
- Protecting destinations so they thrive for generations to come
Let’s look at how to travel sustainably on your next adventure.
Choosing Sustainable Destinations
Select destinations dedicated to ecological stewardship and community values. Avoid over-tourism.
What are Sustainable Destinations?
Sustainable destinations follow practices that minimize environmental and cultural harm while benefiting local people.
They uphold green building standards, historical preservation, resident quality of life, waste reduction, and more.
Tips for Finding Sustainable Destinations
- Look for major sustainability awards or eco-certifications
- Research if community values and nature conservation are priorities
- Seek locales trying to limit over-tourism
- Ensure fair wages for local workers and indigenous population rights
Examples of Sustainable Destinations
- Copenhagen, Denmark – bikeable city with green space
- Seychelles – protects natural habitats and limits mass tourism
- New Zealand – progressive climate initiatives and nature conservation
- Costa Rica – pioneered ecotourism standards over 25 years ago
Seek destinations walking their sustainability talk. Your support helps them continue thriving.
Booking Sustainable Accommodations
Select eco-minded hotels using renewable energy, local materials, and more. Avoid massive resorts.
What is Sustainable Accommodation?
Sustainable lodging follows green building practices supporting local economies and the environment. Standards exist like:
- LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
- GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council)
- Green Key Eco-Rating
Tips for Finding Sustainable Accommodations
Look for places that:
- Hold eco-certifications like LEED or Green Key
- Use renewable energy, reduce water waste, and recycle/compost
- Hire locally and help community initiatives
- Limit size and builders’ footprint on nature
Examples of Sustainable Accommodations
- Eco hotels like Pura Vida Ecolodge in Costa Rica
- Green urban hotels like 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
- Eco-lodges like Three Camel Lodge in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert
- LEED-certified or BREEAM-certified hotel brands
Skip cookie-cutter resorts for unique green stays enriching communities.
Supporting Local Businesses
Buy directly from local providers and makers to support communities economically.
Why Support Local Businesses When Traveling?
- Keeps money circulating locally versus leaking to foreign corporations
- Provides locals with stable jobs and income sources
- Offers opportunities to authentically engage with residents
- Helps small communities retain cultural traditions and independence
Tips for Supporting Local Businesses
- Shop at local markets, artisan studios, and family-run souvenir shops
- Hire local guides directly and choose small-group companies
- Select locally-owned hotels versus global mega chains
- Eat and drink at independent restaurants and cafes
Examples of Local Businesses to Support
Farmers markets, craft cooperatives, art galleries, family-run B&Bs, museums, cultural centers, and independent tour outfitters.
Economically supporting small businesses you visit lets tourism enrich communities.
Minimizing Your Environmental Impact
Reduce waste, emissions, and pollution through conscientious choices to protect nature.
Tips for Reducing Your Environmental Impact
- Say no to single-use plastics and disposable items
- Walk, bike, or use public transit versus private cars/planes
- Conserve water and draw the shades before running the air con
- Dispose of waste properly and pick up any litter you see
- Stay on marked trails and leave things undisturbed when exploring
How to Offset Your Carbon Emissions
Book flights through airlines that let you pay to offset your share of carbon emissions.
Sustainable Travel Practices to Follow
- Pack eco-friendly sunscreens to protect marine areas
- Bring reusable water bottles, bags, battery packs, straws and utensils
- Limit postcards and paper maps by using phone photos and apps
- Unplug chargers when not in use to save energy
- Be respectful by asking permission before photographing local people
Small thoughtful practices help sustain our world for the future.
Preserving Our Planet
The Impact of Tourism on the Environment
Thoughtful tourism management is vital to control depleting natural resources.
The Positive and Negative Impacts of Tourism
- Generates income for conservation efforts
- Provides incentive to protect habitats drawing ecotourists
- Increases pollution and plastic waste
- Damages ecosystems like coral reefs and jungles
- Strains overused amenities like roads, landfills, and utilities
How to Reduce the Negative Impacts of Tourism
Follow the tips mentioned earlier for green accommodations, using alternative transit, disposing of waste properly, staying on trails, and supporting local economies.
Preserving our planet’s biodiversity and resources means considering how tourist spots are managed sustainably. Support places consciously avoiding damage.
Sustainable Tourism Initiatives
Look for destinations promoting transparency, accountability, and progress through eco-initiatives.
Examples of Sustainable Tourism Initiatives
- Transitioning to renewable energy at hotels/attractions
- Eco-education of visitors about sustainability efforts
- Habitat restoration projects like mangrove planting
- Implementing carrying capacity limits and enforced visitor codes of conduct
- Local culinary and farm tourism supporting food origins and craft
How to Support Sustainable Tourism Initiatives
- Hire and book directly with sustainable businesses
- Ask questions about sustainability practices
- Share your own eco-travel stories and tips afterward
- Volunteer or donate to reputable programs giving back
Look for innovative efforts to make travel regenerative. Reward progress through your patronage and encouragement.
The Future of Sustainable Travel
Conscientious travelers, hosts, and governments must collaboratively champion sustainable practices.
The Importance of Sustainable Travel for the Future
Care about our planet’s future? Then travel thoughtfully. Tourism economies depend on unspoiled nature and culture. Preserving destinations protects livelihoods.
How We Can All Contribute to a More Sustainable Future
Vote through your choices – where you go, stay, spend, and what you support. Together, mindful travel habits make a difference in protecting our world.
As travelers, we hold remarkable power to safeguard captivating destinations worldwide just by journeying responsibly. Follow these sustainable travel tips to explore with purpose, not just pleasure.
Pack eco-friendly gear, walk or use transit, stay locally, reduce waste, respect cultures, observe wildlife from afar, and support green businesses.
For every place you visit, tread lightly and preserve its magic. This protects our shared global heritage. Travel sustainably – our planet depends on it.
For more sustainable travel inspiration, explore these resources:
- Sustainable Travel Tips – National Geographic
- How to Be an Eco-Friendly Traveler – Conde Nast Traveler
- Top Sustainable Destinations – iExplore
What are some common misconceptions about sustainable travel?
That it’s prohibitively expensive or low quality. When planned thoughtfully, sustainable travel can suit any budget. Unique locally-run places often offer the most rewarding experiences too.
How can I travel sustainably on a budget?
Choose alternative transit like trains, buses, or public transportation instead of flying. Opt for locally-owned budget lodging. Eat local cuisine from markets or food stands. Visit attractions with free or low-cost entrance fees.
What are some tips for traveling sustainably with children?
Pack reusable water bottles, utensils, and snack bags. Choose child-oriented eco-tours and activities highlighting nature and wildlife. Have kids collect litter when exploring parks or beaches. Select family eco-lodges where kids learn sustainability practices.
How can I find sustainable tour operators and travel agencies?
Look for agencies devoted to eco-travel that hold sustainable certifications like GSTC or TOURCERT. Search “sustainable travel company” plus your destination to find niche experts in responsible regional tourism.
What are some ways to get involved in sustainable tourism initiatives?
Volunteer or donate to meaningful projects through forums like GoEco.org and GoAbroad.com. Wherever you travel, ask locals how you can best support environmental or social causes to make an impact.
Sustainable Travel for Different Types of Travelers
Tailor sustainable practices to your travel style for fulfillment without excess footprints.
Sustainable Travel for Solo Travelers
Pack light, walk/bike, stay centrally to reduce transport needs, seek free activities like museums over commercialized ones, and eat local cuisine.
Sustainable Travel for Couples
Book one hotel room instead of two, splurge on memorable eco-experiences over material goods, support local artisans, and use public transit.
Sustainable Travel for Families
Rent eco-friendly vacation homes with full kitchens, use laundry soap sheets to wash kids’ clothes, teach kids to use reusable water bottles, and explore nature responsibly.
Sustainable Travel for Groups
Coordinate shared rides versus separate taxis, book eco-friendly group accommodation options, have a trip recycling system, and split meals family-style to reduce waste.
Sustainable Travel Activities
Examples of Sustainable Travel Activities
Hiking, biking, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, camping, trying local cuisine, cooking classes, museum visits, wildlife viewing in protected reserves, and volunteering with vetted programs.
Tips for Finding Sustainable Travel Activities
Avoid activities harmful to animals like elephant rides, tiger selfies, or dolphin swims. Seek tour operators with sustainable certifications. Choose low-impact activities using alternative transport over fossil fuel-burning ATVs, jet skis, or helicopters.
Sustainable Travel Destinations by Region
Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, Uganda, Botswana, Zambia
Bhutan, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka
Northern Territory, Tasmania, Kimberley, Queensland
Switzerland, Scotland, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Slovenia, Sweden, Denmark
Costa Rica, Canada, Puerto Rico, Hawaii
Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia
Sustainable Travel Resources
Sustainable Travel International, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, Green Global Travel, Ecoteer.com
Green With Renvy, Wild Junket Adventure Travel Blog
100 Places to Go Before They Disappear, How to Shit Around the World: The Art of Staying Clean and Healthy While Traveling, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
Bye Bye Plastic, WeTravel Green, The Treeapp, Works that Work: Zero Waste