Sustainable Tourism: How to Protect the Planet When You Travel

As travel and tourism make a comeback after the pandemic, we are all eagerly awaiting our next holiday. Making itineraries, bookings flights and travel insurance, and searching for good deals on hotels. Here’s one more thing to add to your checklist: sustainable tourism. 

The importance of sustainable tourism

Travelling is an amazing adventure. But tourism also incurs a large environmental cost. Just one return flight from London to Sydney emits some 5 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That’s about half the average person’s annual carbon footprint. When large groups of tourists visit a popular site, it can result in an excess of damage (both to the place and the people), impacting it socially and environmentally. You can make a difference by being mindful when planning your trip. Here are some sustainable travel tips.

What is a Carbon Footprint?

Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from your daily activities. The amount depends on factors such as how you travel or heat your home—but small changes can go a long way!

Sustainable Transport Options

Traveling over land rather than by air can contribute substantially to sustainable ecotourism. Why not book a train instead of a plane? For example, if you are traveling in India, there are a number wonderful train journeys you can take on Indian Railways. These include luxury trains like the Maharaja Express Train and Palace on Wheels.  

If you can’t avoid flying, choose direct, daytime flights, which are better for the environment than night flights. Try to pack lightly, too — heavier cargo means that the plane needs to burn more fuel.

Planet-friendly Accommodation

Explore the sustainability credentials of your accommodation. Do they use solar power? Do they compost? Do they have ecofriendly lightbulbs? Email the hotels you are browsing to ask before you book. 

Avoid Renting a Car

Visiting somewhere new is a great opportunity to walk more. It’s the best way to take in the views and the atmosphere. When walking isn’t an option, look for public bikes, public transport and sustainable taxi companies. Take your trip as an opportunity to live like a local and experience the place rather than just drive by in a rented car. 

Eat Like A Local

Food has its own carbon footprint, so eat local and seasonal produce which hasn’t traveled far to get to your plate. In India, smaller restaurants are more likely to use fresh, local ingredients due to price-constraints. Supporting these businesses can save you money while giving you an authentic experience of the local cusine. 

Avoiding plastic 

Say no to the bubble wrap and consider sustainable options for packing your souvenirs. Packing delicate items in newspapers or towels and worn clothes.


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