By Cordelia Solomon
Indulging in the adventure of travel and reaping all of its unique joys is a privilege we often take for granted. As travelers, we have a responsibility to think beyond our personal satisfaction and acknowledge how harmful travel can be to the planet, and take greater strides towards traveling sustainably.
When we practice ecotourism we not only minimize the impact of tourism on the environment, but we also increase employment and financial opportunity, all while promoting cross-cultural interactions with the local people.
With that in mind, we at Four Day Weekend encourage you to make the conscious decision to travel more sustainably and keep your footprint light. To help you get started, we’ve rounded up seven easy ways to minimize the environmental impact of your travels.
PACK LIGHT & FLY DIRECT
The less our suitcase weighs the less the plane will weigh, which in turn reduces the amount of fuel it will need to get us to our destination. Planes also expel the most fuel during take off and landing, so whenever possible, fly direct. You’ll not only reduce your carbon footprint, but you’ll arrive at your destination faster!
DITCH THE PLANE AND TRAVEL BY LAND
When possible, opt to travel by train, bus, or hybrid car. These modes of transportation leave a substantially smaller carbon footprint than air travel, and will have positive long term effects on the environment. In fact, trains use seven times less gas than planes, and buses can cut your carbon emissions in half. For travel that requires a plane, try to fly with eco-friendly airlines.
MAKE A GREEN CHOICE
Stay at a locally owned hotel, ideally one that is focused on reducing its energy consumption. Here is a list of the top 5 best sustainable hotel brands. Opt out of house cleaning, reusing your towels and bedding throughout your stay. Taking short showers, turning off the water when brushing your teeth and turning off the lights, AC/heat, and TV when you leave the room are also easy ways to minimize your carbon footprint.
WALKING AND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS
Avoid private drivers, taxis, and car services, and instead rely on public transportation or your legs to get around. Not only will you be protecting the environment, but you’ll also get to experience how locals live and have more opportunities to interact with them. Another upside of walking is discovering hidden gems and parts unknown. Plus, it’s an easy way to sneak in exercise during your travels! Read more about this on our blog post that outlines 8 ways to stay in shape while traveling.
Eating locally sourced food helps reduce food miles -- the distance food has to travel to reach the consumer. This helps decrease the total greenhouse gas emissions from food production. And, because industrially farmed meat has the highest impact on the environment of all food production, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint even further by sticking to a vegetarian diet.
However, if ditching your carnivorous diet is not an option, do your best to find restaurants that source their meat from local and ethical producers. As far as seafood goes, a good rule of thumb is if you’re landlocked, don’t eat it (food miles)! If you’re not, make sure it’s sustainably raised and avoid endangered species. Check out the Marine Stewardship Council to learn more.
By eating locally sourced foods you’ll not only get to enjoy the freshest ingredients, but you’ll also be supporting local farmers and economy. For more on this, read our blog post about how to eat like a local.
Drinking local beer and wine is another great and easy way to support the local economy. Most places have one or two staple lagers or wines that can be found everywhere and are usually pretty tasty!
Craft breweries are also starting to become more popular globally and most local producers not only keep their product organic, hormone, and pesticide free, but they also support their communities by buying their ingredients fresh from local farmers. This means that they are both leaving a positive impact on crops and air quality and reducing the overall carbon footprint of the ingredients they use to brew their beers. On top of it, craft breweries sell locally, which has economic benefits for their community.
So, next time you find yourself abroad, skip the familiar beer (or beverage of choice), and instead go for one of the many great options produced locally.
STAY HYDRATED WITH A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Travel with a reusable water bottle. Most restaurants and hotels, even in countries where you shouldn’t drink the tap water, have filter systems in place, making their water potable. We love our Camelbak and Powwater water bottles!