How to balance your passion for travel with your passion for sustainability.
Whether you dream of hiking The Great Trail in Canada or galavanting across the globe, travel is a life-enriching experience that many of us enjoy. The question is, how can you balance your passion for travel with your desire to be a more responsible, eco-friendly inhabitor of this world? You can do more, with less effort than you think. But what does travelling sustainable even mean? Where do you start?
Sustainable travel is about being a responsible traveller and making smarter choices in every aspect of your trip. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your vacation though, these are practical tips you can choose to implement without disrupting your vacay time.
“What is a carbon offset?” Exactly what I asked myself when I started researching for this blog. Carbon offsets are used as a method to cancel out greenhouse gas emissions around the world. When you purchase an offset, the money goes towards sustainable programs such as reforestation, renewable energy or sustainable food initiatives. The next thing I asked myself is “how do you purchase a carbon offset?” There are many non-profits that offer them, a good Canadian option is less.
Look into your options and build them into your travel budget. You can purchase an offset for your flight or buy offsets by the tonne.
Which one is best? Air travel is the natural enemy of sustainable travel because it wreaks havoc on the environment. But let’s be honest, sometimes it is unavoidable and necessary, and we are all creatures of convenience. If you live in Winnipeg and want to hop across the pond, there is a slim chance you’re going to take a boat. So the best solution is to fly less.
An alternative to flying frequently for trips is to aim to take one, longer trip by plane and a few ‘staycations’ or trips where you go by road or rail. You can also look into which airlines have the lowest emissions per passenger mile. And wherever you can, travel overland in a destination instead of taking domestic flights, as convenient as they may be.
This may seem obvious but can cut down on a lot of waste. The best way to reduce your waste output is to produce less. Packing reusables like a water bottle, coffee cup, steel or bamboo straw, and bamboo cutlery or a spork so you can avoid single-use plastics which can make a big impact. If you want to go the extra mile, take zero waste toiletries, such as shampoo bars, deodorant paste, and tooth tablets. You’ll create a lot less waste and you won’t have to worry about liquids and aerosols.
Eco-conscious accommodation has seen some limelight in recent years thanks to changing attitudes among consumers. Market perceptions are changing and companies that are conscious about the environment and want to capitalize on this shift are starting to rack up serious eco credentials. There are CO2-neutral stays on offer in places like The Brando in Tahiti, the Olakira Camp in the Serengeti, Vienna’s Hotel Stadthalle and Kong Arthur in Copenhagen.
If you’re looking for some local eco-conscious options across Canada, here is a great list.
The least we as travellers can do when we are visiting a destination and getting welcomed by the locals, is to make sure our money goes to the local community and its population and that we leave the nature in just as good of a condition as when we arrived – or even better. Here are some ways of how to support the local communities when you travel. There are a few ways we can do this:
Eating in small restaurants, cafes and stalls ensures your money goes directly into the surrounding community. It also gives you an authentic insight into what the local and regional dishes are and how they eat them.
When you avoid big chains and supermarkets not only will you get an authentic experience, you will also be supporting small businesses which helps the community to thrive.
If you look past the convenience and comfortability of a hotel resort, you might find that homestays or a local AirBnb are much more enjoyable
This post is by no means an attempt to make anyone feel guilty travelling, but to give more insight into how you can travel consciously. After all, exploring the world will only lead you to love and respect it more! Don’t forget to grab your travel insurance before you start your journey.