Green travel, or responsible travel as we like to call it, is becoming increasingly important as we all become more aware of the environmental impact of travelling. Don't worry - this isn't intended to be a preachy blog about how to be the 'perfect traveller'. In fact, an absolutist attitude towards sustainability is a mindset that we are keen to challenge; instead, we want to show that it's easier than you think to travel responsibly. We all want to protect our beautiful planet, but we also don't want to give up on travelling - so how do we fulfil our wanderlust, while still maintaining the safety and stability of our home? Glad you asked - the good news is that with some small changes and conscious choices surrounding our travels, we can all make a difference. So, with our green mission in mind, here are our top tips for travelling in a more responsible, greener way...
There are two solutions when it comes to tackling transport-related environmental impacts. The first and most drastic is to give up flying and driving entirely. Easy to say, not exactly easy or realistic in practice. The other? To off-set the carbon emissions produced by one's travelling. Today, air traffic accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and while scientists work to create carbon-neutral fuel from sunlight and air (yes, really), in the meantime we're busy minimising the impact of our clients' and staffs' flights, car hire and transfers by off-setting 100% of our carbon footprints. How? We plant plants! Well, technically trees, but the combined actions of our Foundation mean that 4,000 trees are planted every day - that's 1.5 million per year, which means we can proudly claim to be carbon neutral travellers.
Switch it Up
Going beyond our carbon neutral pledge, before you book that flight you might want to consider a few things to increase your eco-credentials. Can you switch that plane to a train, or a boat (or maybe a combination of the two - we can help to create your master plan), or any other mode of transport? Switching things up can drastically reduce your carbon footprint and make the journey as much fun as the destination. Slow Travel is having a real moment right now, which is something that we heartily approve of - it's a great way to get under the skin of a country and it really helps to minimise the carbon footprint of your in-country travels. If you do have to fly, try and avoid taking multiple short-haul flights or flights with multiple stopovers.
Talking the Talk
So, you've already taken into account our carbon off-setting programme, and considered swapping flights for trains, but perhaps still want to do more? Spending time talking to professionals (like us, Hi!) can help you decide on the best destinations to visit. Your choice of destination can also play a major role in responsible travel because some countries score far better eco-grades than others. Our travel specialists know their destinations inside and out, and are nurturing relationships with the places and people who walk the eco-walk as well as talking the eco-talk, be they self-sufficient safari set-ups in Africa, or the best eco-guides in Norway. We can let you know about certain destinations, properties and experiences that are taking the most admirable sustainable actions, like the world's first energy positive hotel, Svart, which is opening in 2021 in the Arctic Circle.
Travelling greener is not just about how you get there, its also about being responsible when you are there. Being a responsible guest is so important when it comes to protecting the environments that you are enjoying. From choosing a hotel with good eco-credentials - maybe it's one that supports the environment and the local community (we can help with this) - to making sure that you are mindful of your personal impact on the area, it all counts. Make sure you turn off the electricity and air con when leaving a room, reuse your towels and avoid single-use plastics, like water bottles and disposable toiletries (shout out to California which has banned single-use plastics in hotel rooms).
Like a good house guest, we have duty as travellers to protect the environments that we are visiting (we're only borrowing them for a short while after all). There's plenty you can do to be a more mindful traveller: reduce your impact on the local flora and fauna by taking any rubbish with you and sticking to mark trails when you are exploring; choose eco-friendly modes of transportation (bike ride, anyone?); stay away from areas that suffer from overtourism - you'll discover hidden gems and support local locations and businesses in the process, so everybody is winning; and make sure that your food is sustainably sourced.