Travel is on the cards for most of us and what’s a life worth living if you can’t? Today, we are seeing the horrific effects of urbanization and pollution on the environment. We’ve realized that travel is beneficial to our mental health and not just for exploration. Yet, we are also aware of what the planes, boats, cars, and trains are doing to the environment. The evidence is out there for us all to see, but still – the need to travel is strong. What do we do?
The need to travel is a natural instinct for humans because we have been exploring it for centuries. It’s in our DNA to discover new places and things. We wouldn’t have come so far in life if it weren’t for travel. We are able to expand on our beliefs and knowledge and that way grow and learn through travel. Yet the predicament regarding ‘how’ is looming.
When we face the facts. News reports state that ice glaciers are melting and coral reefs are dying. There are beached disappearing from Miami to East Africa. There are two voices in our heads fighting with each other. Let’s go and visit these places before they vanish. And the other saying you can’t because then you’re contributing to the problem.
It is a challenging time to live and travel. We are stuck in quite a predicament. The desire to go on adventures is strong, but anybody who cares for the environment is also burdened with feelings of selfish consumption. Is it okay to be selfish? There have to be more options available so that we can travel with less of a harmful impact.
Travel Without The Impact
We’re stuck in a confusion of choice. Every time you decide to travel anywhere far, you harm and damage the world even more. Climate change worsens and the air plane you sat on releases more carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
But with more people working abroad and traveling backward and forwards, we are flying more and more.
Apparently, according to research, the number of airline passengers worldwide has more than doubled since 2003. Unfortunately, flying is also not something we can address instantly like we can with other forms of pollution. Well, not right now in any case. Sadly, there isn’t a lot that can be done right now to make flying significantly greener. And I doubt that any plans for electric air planes are nowhere near production or the local airport.
The most difficult thing to accept is that human travel is a major cause of climate change. It might be tough to admit to our harmful human behaviors, but we must start now. It’s ironic because although we are puny in this universe, our tiny actions make an enormous impact over time. It’s good that we are starting to come to a realization about it. Think about all the tiny coastal villages. Those will all be flooded by the ocean if we don’t act now.
The sea ice is melting rapidly, and we must stop it.
How Can We Make Travel Eco-Friendly
Many people get anxiety when they travel because it is damaging to the environment. This is why it helps to research ways you can still enjoy travel but with less of a harmful footprint.
Where you choose to sleep at night also plays a key role in being a green traveler. This part requires some legwork and research, however.
Your best bet is to investigate new facilities that are built around sustainable and conscious living. You’d be surprised at how many hotels are now doing this.
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (G.S.T.C.) recognizes certification programs for hotels and tour operators. Apparently, travelers can visit their site to see lists of these programs, which include The Rainforest Alliance, Earth Check, and hotels that are accredited. All facilities alike will typically show a certification logo on their own websites and marketing materials.
It is also good to ask your hotel if they are eco-friendly because many are and just don’t have the credentials. Travel to places that preserve water, energy, and waste.
Use A Train Instead of A Plane
If you want to travel and you don’t want to damage the Earth, then a train is a much greener option. Especially if it’s an option you can choose from. Try to decide on a destination that allows for train travel instead.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, planes produce 12 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gases generated from transportation. Emissions from cars and other vehicles account for an even greater total percentage.
Taking the train has a much lower carbon impact than flying and should be used when you do not have to fly. Avoid flying unnecessarily. According to experts, shorter flights and stopovers are more polluting per passenger-mile than longer flights. This is because take off and landings generate a significant part of the total emissions per flight. Therefore, we should try avoiding internal flights within a destination. Rather use local public transport where possible and travel on foot or by bike to explore smaller areas.
Research Your Tour Host
There are thousands of tour companies out there. But some are far superior at environmental conservation, protecting wildlife, supporting cultural heritage and employing local guides than others. You want to choose transparent hosts who try to be carbon neutral and enforce responsible travel policies that guide how they interact and support communities.
There are also non-profit advocacy groups like The International Ecotourism Society (T.I.E.S.) that require their member organizations to follow sustainable tourism practices. This is very important on any wildlife trip you decide to travel on. There shouldn’t be any touching or feeding allowed because it takes the animals out of their natural patterns.
If you’re going to travel you must remain respectful and conscious.
Start viewing your tour providers as hosts instead of holiday providers and work with them to look after the environment. Do not disrespect the facility or disregard their rules.
The New York Times recommends following the mantra of “leave no trace” when visiting a destination, as the creation of solid waste, particularly plastic, has significant environmental impacts. Moreover, they state that travelers can help reduce their waste production by carrying their own reusable bags, straws, utensils, and takeaway containers.
It’s also a good idea to look out for shops or restaurants that source their products locally whether it’s locally grown foods, handicrafts, clothing or furniture. You should also be conscious of the countries environmental problems like water or electricity shortages or marine life. Just remain informed and educate yourself a bit beforehand. It might also not always be in the communities best interest to ‘give back’ because sometimes this can make the local community dependent on that.
If you’d like to get more involved when you travel then you should ask your hotel, tour operator or travel company for more information.
Mosquito-free and eco-friendly places to lodge in whilst traveling don’t come around very often. For good reason too. Think about it.