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How to Plan the Most Effective Sustainable Tourism Trip

Hand woman picking up plastic bottle cleaning on the beach
Written by Dhinesh Manuel

This blog post was updated on August 17, 2021.

Sometimes, we take travel for granted and don’t think too much about the consequences some of our plans for the road may have on the environment. If one of your resolutions for the year was to be a bit greener and to make a difference, then the real change can happen in the planning stage of your vacation when you’re putting together an itinerary or looking for cheap round trip flights. Being mindful of these planning tips can make sure you have the perfect sustainable tourism trip ahead of you.

Plan to Travel in the Low Season

Man looking at coral island on the horizon

Other than the obvious reason that you could save a ton of cash on your flight, there are a few other reasons why it’s more sustainable to travel during the off-peak. Firstly, you’ll be supporting local businesses, giving them much-needed income during the yearly tourist drought. How does this affect the environment? Making sure that locals get enough business can prevent them from potentially seeking profit by engaging in eco-system damaging behavior. For example, the owner of a popular beach shack might think about supplementing his income during the low tourist season by working at a logging site that’s cutting down the jungle. Every action causes a chain of events, so it’s important to think twice about when you travel. As an added incentive, you’ll be able to enjoy tourist-heavy spaces all to yourself!

Do Your Research

With the internet, there’s really no reason why you can’t do a bit of background checking into the place you’re visiting and the accommodations set up for you. Is that hotel really saving energy? Do they recycle? Do they have any sustainability grading or accreditation to support their claims? If there are any doubts, the International Ecotourism Society can give you more info on the cred of your stay. Just a little stringent research on your part could make sure that you’re doing your bit for Mother Earth.

Pack Light

Young traveller enjoying a looking at Buddhist stupas. Burma, Asia

This one’s a no-brainer: Lighter luggage means a lighter load when flying, and hence lower fuel emissions to jet you from point A to point B. Not to mention, you’ll also end up saving money on excess baggage weight AND be able to be more mobile at your destination. Of course, it does take a bit of practice to make sure you can pack like a pro, but all you have to do is keep reading the Going Places blog for some nifty ideas.

If You Have to Fly, Then Do it Responsibly

Okay, so there’s no getting around the fact that grabbing a cheap flights in August or January is the easiest and fastest way to get you to your destination. But what you can do in the planning stage is to ensure that you take steps to offset your carbon footprint. This is simple: All you have to do is calculate the amount of CO2 emission of your flight, and then offset that amount with a donation to help plant trees or engage in other sustainable activities. When booking your flight, also remember to book the shortest nonstop flight, as take-off and landings are when the most heaviest emissions take place.

Use Public Transport

Happy smiling woman looks out from window traveling by train

Do some research and make plans to use public transport as much as possible in the location you are visiting. There’s nothing that ruins the air you breathe more than the fumes of yet another vehicle just to get you about. So go ahead and rough it out. Plus, you’ll rub shoulders with the locals and maybe make some friends, not to mention save a lot of cash, and most importantly, minimize your carbon footprint. If the place you are visiting is very large or lacking in public transport, then just make sure you hire a rental vehicle that is fuel efficient, hybrid, or electric.

You may also like: 6 Easy Ways to Travel Greener While Globetrotting

Plan on Staying Wisely in Your Hotel

Even though may know your accommodations are doing their best to adhere to sustainability rules and maintain ecological harmony, there are certain thing you should plan on doing once you get to your destination. Always remember to switch the lights off when you leave your room. When charging your laptop or phone, make sure to unplug your charger as soon as your devices are fully charged, without keeping them plugged in for hours on end, soaking up energy. Whether it’s taking a shower or washing your clothes by hand, make sure to be mindful of the amount of water you use. Try and reuse your bedding and towels for as long as you can, as washing these items daily is another waste of water. And if recycling processes are not clear, don’t hesitate to ask management where you can take certain types of materials for recycling.

Volunteer Some Time for an Eco-Friendly Activity

Group of Diverse People Digging Hole Planting Tree Together

Have a chat with people in the community or your hosts/management about ways in which you can take a few hours off to do something sustainable. Picking up trash and tree planting are just two of the easy-to-do activities that won’t cost you a thing and will leave your host destination a little bit greener than when you arrived.

Now that you’ve taken these tips into consideration , you can go ahead and book those round trip flights to and from your holiday destination, confident that you’ll be doing your part for the environment during your travels.

Got any other planning tips that’ll keep your journey green? Let us know in the comments

About the author

Dhinesh Manuel

Socialite, philanthropist, costumed crime fighter by wait...that's bad ...

Musician, writer, travel junkie, dog lover, and database of useless information. I love to learn about new cultures, experience new cuisines, meet new people, and have a few laughs along the way!