A Fresh Start: 12 Tips for More Sustainable Travel

Simply put, sustainable travel is traveling in a less environmentally impactful manner. As consciousness and awareness continues to grow around this important topic, we have an unprecedented opportunity to start fresh and choose a more sustainable path forward. So on this Earth Day (and every day!), let’s have a look at 12 ways you and your travelers can help contribute to a greener planet.

1. Choose Greener Flight Options – Flying nonstop when possible and consolidating trips/meetings that are geographically close together can help reduce carbon emissions considerably. Also: try packing as light as possible to reduce luggage weight and its impact on fuel use and emissions.

2. Consider Carbon Offsets – Carbon offsets fund a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions roughly equal to output. If budget allows, there are several companies that make it possible to calculate one’s carbon footprint and purchase carbon offsets accordingly.

3. Go Digital – Implement a ‘print-less’ travel practice by going digital. Bonus: using contactless technology is a great way to maintain social distancing measures and avoid common-touch space! Airports and hotels worldwide accept digital tickets, boarding passes, booking confirmations, and more, so this is fairly easy to implement, and can make a huge difference.

4. Use Car-Sharing Apps & Public Transport – The car-sharing economy and public transport are great ways to minimize environmental impacts by increasing fuel efficiency and reducing traffic congestion.

5. Ride the Train & Rent Smart – Did you know that trains are more energy-efficient per passenger mile than cars? If taking the train is not feasible, when renting a car, choose to rent a smaller car or explore the option of going with a hybrid or electric option.

6. Rent a Bike – Decrease your carbon footprint and reduce the demand for car usage by opting to rent a bike rather than driving or taking a taxi. Biking produces zero carbon dioxide emissions and is an excellent option for both the environment and your health! Many cities even have bike-sharing services, making it easy and affordable to rent a bike anywhere. If not in a city, seek out local bike shops or bike rental vendors.

7. Select Eco-Friendly AccommodationsThere are several venues that are going the extra mile to help the environment, including the use of flow-restrictive shower heads, low-flow toilets, energy-efficient lighting, and waste reduction programs. Additionally, consider supporting accommodations that have implemented other sustainable practices, such as using solar or wind energy.

8. Practice Earth-Friendly Hotel Etiquette – Use the same towel and bed sheets for the duration of the trip, especially if only staying for a few days. Taking shorter showers and remembering to turn the lights off when leaving the room are also great ways to reduce waste and save precious energy.

9. Pack Reusable Items –  The amount of energy that it takes to produce, fill, package, and ship the average water bottle gives this single-use plastic item an especially hefty carbon footprint. Avoid adding to the waste stream by simply bringing a reusable water bottle and utilizing it throughout the duration of any trip. Other smart items to pack include: reusable shopping bags, utensils, and food containers to avoid the use of single-use plastics. Bonus tip: pack a reusable coffee cup instead of using disposable cups while on the go.

10. Eat Locally-Sourced Foods –  If food hasn’t been flown or trucked in, significant emissions can be saved by seeking out and supporting local businesses that grow, sell, and serve locally-sourced ingredients. Eating locally-sourced food also benefits the local economy, including supporting local farmers and other producers.

11. Visit Protected Areas – When downtime allows, visiting national parks, marine sanctuaries, and other protected areas play an important role in protecting our planet’s natural resources and biodiversity. Many countries rely on tourism fees such as entrance fees, operator permits, or bed levies to preserve these special places and animals. Bonus: spending time outside can significantly help reduce stress, increase productivity, and improve immune function.

12. ‘Voluntour’ Locally – Voluntourism, the combination of volunteering and tourism, has become a very popular method of sustainable travel. Regardless of where you’re going or what causes you’re passionate about, there is likely a charity in your destination of travel that needs your help! Voluntouring is a great opportunity to give back to the environment and see firsthand your impact on the local community.

For over 25 years, On Call International has provided fully-customized travel risk management and global assistance services protecting millions of travelers, their families, and their organizations. Visit www.oncallinternational.com to learn more. You can also stay in touch with us by signing up for our Travel Risk Management (TRM) e-newsletter.