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  • Michael Tye

8 Sustainable Travel Tips for 2021

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

Here are 8 tips that can help us all travel more sustainably and responsibly and look after our planet!

It’s time. After months of waiting, the world is finally opening up again. For many, that means going on those holidays they’ve been looking forward to since the start of lockdown. But is it possible to travel while staying sustainable? Here are 8 simple tips to help you do just that.

1. Stay local This one may not appeal to those who had dreams of visiting the canals in Venice, or perhaps to those who fancied attending a full moon party in Thailand, but the simple fact is this: the further you travel, the more emissions you will use.

This isn’t to say that no one should leave their home country, but you should definitely try to hold yourself accountable if you find yourself travelling abroad multiple times a year.

Besides, the UK is host to a number of beautiful destinations, if you know where to look. Places like Watergate Bay in Cornwall or The Peak District in Buxton can really rival any other tourist destination in beauty (although they may struggle to compete in terms of temperature!).

2. Don’t fly Similarly to tip number 1, flying makes it difficult to stay sustainable on your trip. One plane journey to Edinburgh uses the same emissions as 336 cars. Luckily, there are a lot of viable alternatives.

For example, ferries offer a peaceful, if slightly slower, method of getting to Europe’s mainland. Alternatively, taking the train across Europe gives you the chance to see all the sights from Amsterdam to Greece at a leisurely pace.

If you really must fly, do your research. Not all airlines are built the same; companies like EasyJet and United have significantly fewer emissions per passenger than average, and companies like Lufthansa are looking at using biofuels instead of kerosene which is much friendlier to the Earth.

Another great way of reducing the carbon footprint of your flight is by clicking the ‘offset emissions’ button when booking your flight. At a slightly higher cost, the airline will reduce the impact of your flight by offsetting the carbon emitted in some way, usually by increasing forestry or decreasing deforestation.

3. Slow tourism Speaking of travelling at a leisurely pace, slow tourism is a new kind of travelling experience that is taking the travelling world by storm. Focusing on experiences rather than sights, slow tourism offers travellers the opportunity to really immerse themselves in the local culture.

For example, instead of going to France to visit the Eiffel tower, then the Palace at Versailles, then going to the alps to ski, why not split these into a few separate trips and really savour each one by living as the locals do.

As well as reducing emissions, this gives you some well needed relaxation time, and takes the stress of rushing from place to place out of a well needed vacation.

4. Try going veggie Now this one may be controversial. And I’m not suggesting cutting out all meat from your holiday. But with the meat and dairy industry making up a massive 14.5% of all carbon emissions according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation, maybe choose the vegan Bolognese over the steak a few times a week. Who knows, you could be pleasantly surprised.

5. Don’t partake in animal tourism Even though we have all secretly harboured dreams of riding an elephant across the Alps like Hannibal (it's not just me, right?), the undeniable truth is that animal tourism usually isn't sustainable.

That isn’t to say that all animal attractions are bad, but a study by the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Unit found that 75% of wildlife tourist attractions either involve animal cruelty or aren’t sustainable.

This doesn’t mean not observing animals on your holidays but it is does mean being mindful of the impact that you are having on the natural environment and researching any animal exhibits you are considering travelling to beforehand.

6. Invest in eco travel gear It seems counterintuitive to buy new gear for your trip, what with all the emissions involved in production. But a few smart purchases can help you reduce your use of disposables and plastics.

For example, why not buy a reusable water bottle to use on your trip? Or maybe some long lasting cutlery so you don’t need to use the free disposable variety which is so harmful to the Earth.

7. Try camping instead of staying at a hotel (especially all-inclusive hotels) Camping isn't for everyone, but it can offer a different kind of holiday to the norm. While putting up tents and boiling water over a fire can seem like hard work, they are more than made up for by the nostalgic feeling of roasting marshmallows over a fire, or by the late-night chats from one sleeping bag to another. And one thing is always certain with camping – you will leave with a story to tell!

8. Choose your destination wisely Certain countries and places are more sustainable than others. Places like Malawi boast a much more sustainable tourism sector, with substantial amounts of the money from tourism going to locals, rather than to international mega-corporations.

On the other hand, more well-known destinations like Portugal and Denmark are making great strides in their mission to cut emissions, with Copenhagen on track to become the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2025.

By Michael Tye ©

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