6 ways to travel more sustainably

Today, we are lucky to travel the world so easily and extensively. Yet, we take it for granted, and nothing made that more evident than when we were forced to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But while many of us were counting down the days until we could see the world again, nature itself was breathing a sigh of relief. Yes, grounded flights worldwide and a lack of tourism gave the planet a break from human interference and a chance to rejuvenate. However, the time spent in lockdown also gave people the opportunity to ‘come back better’ and think about how their actions and travel choices impact the planet.

According to new travel statistics for 2022, 87% of consumers say they want to travel sustainably. However, 48% say they never, rarely or only sometimes manage to.

While we’re not here with any revolutionary answers, we think it’s important to remind people of some of the easy ways they can travel more sustainably. If everyone worked harder to make these small changes, it would make a big difference to the planet overall.

  1. Consider how you travel

We all know how bad flights are for the planet. Compared with any other mode of transport, flying produces the most carbon per passenger. So, when you do fly, make it count.

If you need to take a long haul flight, consider spending a little extra for a direct route. It’ll save you time and will always be more fuel-efficient than stopping off and taking another flight. You might also want to consider using a carbon offset program - more on that later!

Where possible, avoid cheap short-haul flights and drive (lift-share) or take the train instead. Buses, trains and bicycles are far less-polluting and offer the opportunity to enjoy some slower-paced sightseeing.

2. Book environmentally-friendly hotels

Booking an environmentally-friendly hotel can be a minefield, so it’s important to do your research. According to The New York Times, there are currently around 180 certification labels floating around the tourism industry, each claiming to certify the green credentials of destinations, hotels and tour operators.

Some of these certifications are legit. For example, members of the Tourism Declares initiative have pledged to publish a climate action plan and cut their carbon emissions.

However, there are other labels and ‘certifications’ out there that are simply a form of greenwashing, i.e. they make a company look like it has environmentally-friendly values when in reality, its operations are anything but green.

For some of the best environmentally friendly hotels in Europe, check out our blog post: How hotels are addressing the climate crisis.

3. Support local communities on your travels

While holidaymakers often spend a lot of money on their travels, very little actually goes back into the destination and local community itself. Instead, the money makes its way back into the hands of the big corporate tourism operators.

To help support local communities on your travels, we recommend eating and shopping locally. Buy from smaller, independent stores wherever possible and eat in restaurants using local, organic produce.

Find out if there is the opportunity to volunteer in the local community to give back, and be sure to opt for eco-friendly tour operators and hire local guides.

4. Opt for sustainable holiday activities

If you’ve made an effort to travel sustainably (perhaps with a carbon offset - see below) and choose eco-friendly accommodation, don’t spoil it by doing holiday activities that harm the planet.

While activities like jet skiing and helicopter rides have the fun factor, they also use a lot of energy and emit harmful pollutants. Instead, consider kayaking, hiking and mountain biking to explore your destination. They’re better for the planet and better for you.

When visiting nature areas, try to stick to designated trails and leave the places how you find them to avoid disturbing flora and fauna.

Consider sustainable holiday activities that contribute to the local community and environment, such as a beach clean up!

5. Use Carbon Offset Programs

There’s no alternative to aviation when it comes to travelling long distances. If you want to visit the other side of the world, you’ve got to do it by plane. We’ve already mentioned how taking a direct flight is better for the planet, but something else you can do is invest in carbon offset programs.

Carbon offset programs allow passengers to invest in carbon reduction projects to help neutralise or reduce their carbon footprint caused by air travel.

Over 30 International Air Transport Association member airlines now offer travel offset programs when booking flights with them. Look for offsets that avoid emissions or replace fossil fuel energy with renewables.

As we mentioned with green hotel accreditations, it’s important to remember that not all carbon offset programs will be as great as they initially sound. If you really want to make a difference, it’s worth doing a little research to find out exactly where your money is going, how much will be tied up in admin costs and the type of project being funded. Alternatively, you might consider choosing an individual carbon offsetting program rather than letting a big company decide who to give your money to.

6. Book a staycation

Rather than taking a flight to another country, enjoying a staycation is another way you can minimise your carbon footprint. And let’s be honest, there are bound to be so many beautiful places in the country you call home that you’re yet to explore. Whether you fancy a beach holiday, a relaxing countryside retreat or an action packed adventure weekend, it’s worth seeing what’s practically on your doorstep to save time, money and the planet!

Save money on staycations with Planschange. View our latest resale deals to book a hotel room at a discounted price.

So there we have 6 ways you can travel more sustainably. While we don’t want to put anyone off travelling (after all, we are a hotel booking marketplace), we’re all for finding ways to discover and enjoy the planet without spoiling it for generations to come.