From increasing cultural understanding and aiding the conservation of wildlife to creating opportunities and providing for entire communities in the world’s smallest corners, there’s no denying the positive impact travel can have on the world. However, there are negative impacts to tourism too, and as we become more educated in the climate crisis travellers are looking to holiday more consciously.
Throughout the pandemic, we saw nature rebuild. The crash of commuter culture in cities meant air pollution decreased and the long-term health benefits these changes have on our people and our planet simply cannot be ignored. So, to help you travel a little greener, we’ve compiled a list of simple switches you could make to ensure you have a fantastic trip that is also kinder on our environment.
Many hotels and resorts around the world are making sustainability a priority. This comes in various forms, from providing job opportunities for the local community and positive initiatives to preserve biodiversity, to running solely off renewable energy. Preferred Hotels' global portfolio now offers specific sustainable stays under its new collection Beyond Green. This is a compilation of forward-thinking resorts which are leading the way with people and planet-friendly actions that meet more than 50 sustainability indicators which align with global sustainable tourism standards. Another luxury travel brand that puts the planet at its heart is Six Senses. Based on reconnecting with the environment, the resorts are built from natural materials, by local hands, and boast a range of sustainable initiatives for guests to get involved in.
Choosing authentic excursions run by locals is the best way to support communities. By digging a little deeper into the local culture you can make memories and personal connections that’ll stay with you way longer than your Instagram snap outside the Colosseum in Rome. We’re not saying to avoid the tourist hotspots and famous landmarks, but maybe make a conscious effort to take a tapas cookery class in a family-run restaurant in Spain, learn how the locals grow rice in Bali or visit a fishing village to discover the tools of this ancient trade in Thailand. The cost of your trip will directly impact the locals and can make a real difference to families and future generations to come. What's more, you can pick up a new skill and teach your children about different cultures which, in our opinion, is priceless.
While slow travel – where you swap plane journeys for other modes of transport – is on the rise, we understand that it is not always convenient. However, making a conscious decision on the way you travel in destination could make a positive impact. Why not opt for an electric car chauffeur when organising your airport transfers? Or, ride the bus, take the subway and hop on a ferry when traversing around your destination. Sometimes, this could be the more scenic route and allow you to discover hidden corners to a country that you otherwise would have missed.
Not only will packing light allow you more freedom with your mode of transport when you arrive at your country of choice, but it can also directly reduce your carbon footprint. How? The less luggage you carry means vehicles and airplanes require less fuel to ship it from A to B, which results in a reduction in greenhouse gas production. So, try working with a capsule wardrobe for your next holiday and only pack the essentials - especially when you are often tempted to browse the local shops and boutiques while you are away.
Dining in family-run cafés or in an independent restaurant will directly impact the locals economically, but it can also make your trip way more satisfying. Many restaurants stay in families for generations, and so do their secret recipes, offering plenty of flavour and local herbs and spices that you may not have ever tried before. What’s more, dishes in family run eateries are prepared with love. The chefs and front of house staff really care about your experience and value your good review, in comparison to large corporate chains that will survive regardless of how tasty your burger was.
To truly make a difference, calculate your emissions and compensate them by donating to an offsetting project. This helps to balance the world, with specially regulated organisations offering a range of carbon-reducing projects for you to choose from. This includes planting trees and reducing deforestation in Brazil, providing clean drinking water for communities in Uganda and building wind farms in Dominican Republic. Plus, these projects also bring wider benefits to the local communities such as biodiversity, education, jobs and food security. It can also help to improve health and wellbeing in developing countries. Just be sure the option you choose is with a verified company that is QAS approved.
By minimising your use of plastic, you can help save our oceans and wildlife, reduce carbon emissions and prevent spreading toxins. While you’re packing lighter, remember to save space for a reusable water bottle. You can top this up at a water fountain at your departure airport and at your resort once you avoid travelling with excess single use plastic. Similarly, when at a bar, avoid single-use plastic straws and instead carry a reusable metal one or opt to use the bio-degradable paper, bamboo or lemongrass kind. Your planet will thank you.
This is possibly the easiest way everyone can make a difference. By switching off the lights and air conditioning in your hotel room or villa before leaving for the day, you can save energy, reduce carbon emissions and harmful greenhouse gasses. The same goes for water consumption. Do you need fresh towels and linen every day? If you swap to getting new sheets every other day, you’ll halve the hotel’s water consumption. Another important thing to remember is to switch off your home before you travel. Unplugging appliances and turning off items at the switch will not only save your utility usage but it will also save you money on your monthly bills. Oh, and don’t forget to adjust your thermostat. You don’t need to heat an empty house.
These hotel chains put the natural environment and our planet first:
Banyan Tree builds resorts in harmony with nature and contributes to the development of the communities where they are planted. Learn more about Banyan Tree resorts across the world from Mexico to Thailand, China to Vietnam by calling your personal travel manager on 0203 816 0985.
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