Traveling keeps you feeling alive. All your senses are alert and you are always expecting something new to happen. You constantly adjust to new situations, new people, new cultures, and new environments. There is less to rely on and more to discover. If you open up to the experience, you will learn not just about new things, but also about yourself.
If we learn about ourselves we also have to reflect on our way of consumption. What exactly is our impact on the environment if we are searching for ourselves in the outback or during nights full of dances and good food in far away cities. Can we do some things to be more responsible on that path?
The answer is YES! See here how we all can improve:
“THE REAL VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY CONSISTS
NOT IN SEEKING NEW LANDSCAPES,
BUT IN HAVING NEW EYES.”
― Marcel Proust
Sustainability begins with planning your vacation. Jetting off to Milan for two days because flights and hotels are cheap? Then off to South Africa for a week's safari? Numerous short trips a year are very attractive to many travel enthusiasts — not least because of the low prices. However, such trips are not sustainable. After all, every trip to and from the vacation destination generates a lot of CO2. Such flying visits also leave little time to get to know the country and its people. Especially when traveling further away, the rule applies: It's better to go on vacation once for three weeks than three times for one week.
Due to COVID-19, many people have discovered the benefits of vacationing at their own doorstep. This is a positive development for sustainable tourism: If you travel in your own country, it is very comfortable to use environmentally friendly means of transport, which allows you to travel in a more climate-friendly way. Nice side effect: you're supporting the local tourist industry and economy.
Travel to and from the destination accounts for by far the largest share of a vacation's carbon footprint. If possible, travelers should consider vacation destinations that are available by rail rather than flights, as air travel is by far the most climate-damaging means of transport. However, if you are traveling further distances and a flight is unavoidable, you should try to book a direct connection if possible. This not only shortens the flight distance, but also eliminates the need for additional takeoffs and landings, during which aircraft consume a particularly large amount of energy. If a flight can't be avoided it's a great opportunity to compensate your CO2 emissions on sides like:
Sustainable travel has not only an ecological but also a social component. Many countries are heavily dependent on tourism. If you want to give the locals of your destination extra support on your next trip, you should shop and eat locally instead of going to the big supermarket or the international fast food chain. Seasonal, regional and organically produced foods not only strengthen the local economy, but also bring you closer to the local food culture than the food courts at the shopping center. Like at home, the proportion of animal-based foods should be kept as low as possible due to their poor environmental performance.
Beyond transportation, tourism also relies on energy for heating, lighting, and electricity. Tourists often consume significantly more water and energy than local residents and many destinations struggle to keep up with the demand. When you’re on vacation, do what you can to conserve local water and energy resources. Turn off the lights, TV, and any other electronics when not in use. When leaving your hotel, turn off the AC or set the thermostat a few degrees higher. Take a shower instead of a bath and keep it as short as possible. You can also reduce your environmental footprint by staying in a low impact accommodation. This could either be a smaller, more basic accommodation or a higher-end property that utilizes renewable energy and water/energy efficient technologies.
"TAKE ONLY MEMORIES,
LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS."
- Chief Seattle
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