Travel organization Sunweb today announced that it would reimburse the CO2 emissions of all its holidaymakers. A great initiative, and it shows that sustainable travel is becoming increasingly important. Do you also want to contribute? These tips are already a useful guideline for traveling greener.
Step 1: Select the correct destination
With sustainable travel, there is one golden rule: the closer to home, the greener. Do you want to go further? Then choose a country that is known for caring for the environment. A useful tool in this is the Global Green Economy Index, a ranking of the greenest economies made by the consultancy firm Dual Citizen. The top three is filled with Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Norway and Finland. For those who crave some sun, Zambia and Brazil apparently are recommended.
In Brazil, according to Jon Bruno, the director of The International Ecotourism Society, you should pay a visit to Bonito. This town is sometimes called the epitome of ecotourism. The reason: it has developed a digital control system that ensures that never too many tourists visit the nature of the region at the same time.
Another suggestion from Bruno is Namibia, the first nation in the world that has enshrined the protection of the environment and the conservation of natural resources in the constitution. Or the Galapagos Islands, just off the coast of Ecuador. No less than 97% of the surface area of this island group are national parks.
Step 2: Choose the correct means of transport
The greenest means of transport is without a doubt the bicycle, perfect for exploring neighboring countries. This may sound boring at first, but it is the ideal way to get to know the region and meet locals. Do you want to go further? Then public transport is the best solution, and especially the train.
If you are nevertheless planning to rent a car, it is slightly weird that you (if possible) opt for a hybrid or electric car. You can choose a suitable four-wheeler for your road trip via the online car rental site Hertz, for example, via the Green Traveler Collection program.
For those who travel further, there is often no alternative but to use the aircraft. That this is not exactly an environmentally friendly choice is an understatement. Try to do your bit by avoiding a transfer and compensating for the CO2 emissions of your flight.
Last but not least: the cruise. Many globetrotters do not expect it, but cruise ships have an immense impact on the environment. Are you a water rat that can’t resist the lure of the sea and the waves? Then go for a trip with a sailboat or catamaran; they need less powerful engines to sail around.
Step 3: Choose the correct place to stay
The country and transport have been chosen, now a place to spend the night. Actively avoid the gigantic all-inclusive complexes. In case of doubt, you can always call the hotel and ask them a barrage of questions. Do they recycle and serve dishes from locally produced food?
You can also look for a place to stay that has received a quality label. Or how about a campsite, an overnight stay at a local or an eco-lodge? On the Unique Lodges of the World site, you will find 55 beautiful buildings, all of which were selected by National Geographic. Instagram-worthy snapshots insured!
You can also lend a hand during your stay. Always hang your towels neatly instead of throwing them on the floor and always turn off the lights when you leave the room. Leave the soaps, bottles of body lotion and small shampoos for what they are and bring your shower products. That way, you at least don’t make the mountain of waste more significant. Ask them to clean your room a little less and take as few clothes as possible. Do they still have to be washed? Then it is better not to use the hotel’s laundry service, as they usually wash the guests’ clothes separately. Drop-in at a local laundromat or use your sink.
Step 4: Choose the right activities
Snorkelling, diving, kayaking, walking, cycling, swimming: during the trip you naturally want to experience something and see the country. Not a problem, as long as you try to avoid the major attractions and the typical tourist traps. Better options: feast around at a food market or be guided by local guides. Have you selected an organization that donates part of the profit to a charity? Then give yourself an extra pat on the back, you’ve earned it.