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Eco-Friendly Travelling: How To Cut The Environmental Impact From Your Adventure

Travelling is perfect way to add new experiences to your life, broaden your horizons and embrace new cultures, however, as more and more people choose to travel the world they can often overlook the impact their travel will have on the world around them.

Eco-friendly travel doesn’t necessarily mean ditching all our creature comforts, roughing it in a tent and living off the land, though; wherever you are going in the world, there are plenty of ways to limit your environmental impact while still enjoying – or even enhancing – your travelling experience.


Before You Leave

Before you have even left your house, there are a number of things you can do to curb your impact on the environment while you’re away and stop your home using up energy without you even knowing it.

Firstly, make sure all of the lights and electric sockets in your home are switched off; even if appliances are left on standby in your absence they will be using up precious electricity. Thermostats or automatic heating systems should also be knocked off while you’re away, this goes for water heaters as well if you’ve got one. Not only will doing this cut down on energy use, but it will save you money on your bills too.

When packing, you should always aim to keep your backpack or luggage as light as possible – the more you bring, the more fuel needs to be used on flights or car and bus journeys. Be realistic and take just the essential clothing you think you will need. Think ahead when packing as well; items like a reusable water bottle and shopping bag take up little space and both will help to cut down on waste while you’re away.


Transport

Sometimes choosing your methods of travel is out of your control – if you’re going to South America for instance, an aeroplane is the only realistic option for getting there any time soon – but if time is on your side and your destination isn’t on the other side of the world then coaches or trains are generally the most environmentally friendly ways to travel. Yes, those long, stuffy journeys may not be ideal, but both options are great ways to meet new people and see foreign landscapes up close while limiting your carbon footprint.

If long-haul flights are your only option and it leaves you feeling guilty about your carbon footprint, you can always offset your offset emissions by planting trees or donating to specialist carbon offsetting organisations like Forest Credits.

Once you have arrived at your destination, renting bikes is an ideal way to travel round emission free – not to mention it’s good exercise! If you want to go on any tours or excursions in the area then look out for environmentally friendly tour operators. These may be hard to come by but just asking a few questions to the reps or guides will help you distinguish which ones are the most sustainable and environmentally conscious.

Also, if you’ve met up with other travellers, going around in smaller groups helps to cut down your environmental impact and means you can use smaller, more environmentally friendly vehicles.


Accommodation

Whether you are opting for hostels or hotels, there are many websites that can help you pick out environmentally friendly accommodation. Most hostel search websites will have options for eco-friendly hostels, or even a quick Google search can identify options in your area. For hotels, there are a number of sites such as Green Hotels and Environmentally Friendly Hotels which have comprehensive listings to help you find the one for you.

If you are feeling a little bit more adventurous and don’t mind sleeping in a spare bed or on the sofa, then get in contact with friends or family nearby and ask if you can stay with them for a few days. You could even find lodgings with strangers through sites like Couch Surfing; staying with local will also help you to find out more about the area and find hidden gems which are missed out of the tour guides.

Remember, whether you’re in a hotel, hostel or staying in a house, act responsibly in your accommodation – don’t create unnecessary waste, reuse your towels when you can and always switch off lights and electrics when you’re done with them.


Day-to-Day Activities

Remember the water bottle and shopping bag you packed before you set off? Use them! Most hotels and hostels will have taps where you can fill up on water so do that rather than buy bottled water each day, and keep your shopping bag handy when you’re out on a stroll – you never know what you will come across in the depths of local markets.

Eating out and experiencing new foods is a great part of travelling, but meals are often pricey and you get far more than you need. Scour markets for locally produced ingredients and try cooking for yourself if you have the means –it will probably save money as well! Many areas of the world even offer local cookery courses for travellers so you don’t have to go in blind when you try to whip up a local delicacy and then you have those skills for life.

Choosing local foods and drinking local wines and beers means less transport is needed to get it from production to your mouth though, so always opt for locally produced goods. This goes for gifts as well, if you buy handmade items from markets, then the money will usually go straight to the person who made them, plus they make better gifts than generic touristy t-shirts (which are normally printed in a far away country) anyway.

Finally, get off your phone! The less you use your smartphone, the less you will have to charge it meaning you can cut down on energy consumption. Obviously you will need to use it from time to time, but continuous scrolling through Facebook and playing games with people back home can wait. Turn it off when you don’t need it and this will make you interact with others and experience more of the world around you.

Read our guide to 2016’s Top Eco-Holiday Destinations!

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