Tourism is essential to many economies all over the world. As the world looks to rebound from coronavirus, tourism will play a critical role.
But there's no denying travel takes a toll on the environment. Planes are responsible for a significant amount of carbon emissions, and travelers leave footprints everywhere they go.
As you get ready to see the world again this Earth Day, here are a few simple ways to do your part and safeguard these places for future travelers.
Bring Your Own Water Bottle
Single-use plastic is a huge issue around the world. Bringing your own refillable water bottle will stop you from using possibly dozens of plastic water bottles.
Find a travel water bottle that won't take up a lot of space like the Anntrue Collapsible Water Bottle.
If you prefer something other than silicone, S'well makes stainless steel water bottles that are eco-friendly and the company gives back to help provide clean and safe water around the world.
What if you're headed to a location without potable water? There are all kinds of water bottles with built-in filters. Just make sure it will work for your destination.
Pack in a Carry-On
You're probably thinking: “Pack a carry-on? What does that have to do with the environment?”
Besides bringing less weight on the plane, packing lightly sets you up to travel more eco-friendly. Riding public transport, hopping on a train, or even walking down the street is much easier with a smaller suitcase.
Offset Your Flight
One of the biggest impacts travel has on the environment is due to aviation. While there's no silver bullet to solve the carbon impact of flying, you can start to do your part by offsetting your portion of the flight.
Read more: How to offset your travel footprint by buying carbon offsets.
All you have to do is calculate your carbon footprint for your flight and then donate that amount to an environmental charity or cause. For example, the carbon footprint for one round trip flight from Chicago (ORD) to Amsterdam (AMS) is 1.83 metric tons of carbon emissions. Then the cost is easy to figure out. Most websites list the cost of one metric ton of carbon emissions at $11. So for that round trip flight, it would cost you $20.13 to offset your part of the flight.
It may not seem like a lot, but if everyone did their part, it would have a huge impact.
That's why the Thrifty Traveler Team helped plant more than 1,500 trees in 2019 to offset our own travel.
Stay at Environmentally Responsible Hotels
More and more hotels are making shifts toward environmentally friendly practices. From eliminating single-use toiletries to choosing more sustainable practices hotels are listening to consumers. IHG, Hyatt, and Marriott are among the larger hotel chains that are eliminating single-use bottles in rooms and are moving towards more environmental-friendly practices.
Some smaller hotel chains, like Alila, have extensive and rigorous environmentally sustainable practices. It varies from hotel to hotel within the group. The practices range from reducing their carbon footprint by buying all local food to zero use of plastics and being energy neutral.
All it takes is a little research to find a hotel that prioritizes the environment. You can also do your part during your stay by reusing towels and sheets.
Walk, Bike, or Take Public Transport
This one is pretty self-explanatory: If you can avoid renting a car or taking a ride-share, do it. Use more environmentally friendly options to get wherever you're going.
If you want to visit nearby cities or other locations, consider taking a train instead of renting a car or hopping on a flight.
Eat & Drink Local
You can find farm-to-table restaurants all over the world. Take some time to find restaurants that get most of their food from farms nearby.
The same goes for drinks: give the local beer, wine, or spirits a try over imported alcohol. Not sure where to start? Strike up a conversation with the server or bartender and ask them for their favorite local drink.
Not only will your food and drink have a smaller carbon footprint, but you will directly support the local economy. And it doesn't hurt that you'll learn a ton about the local culture, either.
Take a Tour that Gives Back
More and more, you can find tours and excursions that not only have a minimal impact on the environment – they also give a portion of the cost to an environmental organization. You can also learn how to help preserve nature and promote its conservation.
No matter where you are in the world you can make choices that positively impact the environment all while helping local economies.
Whenever you venture back out into the world, do it in a way that protects the Earth. Call it your Earth Day present.