There’s no better way to experience the wonders of the world than to get out and start exploring. Both fortunately and unfortunately, planet earth has much to offer the adventurous spirit, but it is slowly degrading and choking under the pressure of our carbon footprint. The emissions from planes, trains and automobiles is suffocating cities and showing signs of destruction across the planet. While traveling the world is a beautiful notion and a sight to behold, adventurers are becoming more aware of their personal effects on mother nature and are fastly adopting the “Leave No Trace” mantra in every aspect of travel. Luckily, there are a number of ways to start traveling more green and to begin reducing the negative effects that over consumption is exhibiting around the world.
Before you reach your destination, take some time to consider how you will get from place to place once you arrive. While renting a car has become standard travel procedure, often times we forget that not only is it not green, but in some countries it isn’t actually the best way to get around. Try arranging for a hotel or hostel in the middle of the city where you can easily walk or bike between attractions. Aligning yourself near a travel hub, such as bus, train and metro stations, is another consideration to help reduce your carbon footprint while traveling. Depending on the area and season you plan to visit certain places, renting a bicycle, scooter, or motorcycle may be the greenest, most cost effective means of exploring in the long run, and will help to contribute to the local economy. And lastly, when at all possible, try to maximize vehicle capacity by carpooling and sharing taxis.
Another method of reducing your carbon footprint is actually in the way you choose to travel long distances. If you take a plane, try to find flights that are direct or offer the fewest number of stops. Take offs and landings consume the most fuel in planes, and non-direct flights tend to cover unnecessary air time and mileage. Also, when you pack your bags, regardless of travel by plane, train, bus, or automobile, try to lose some of the luggage weight and only carry the necessities. This reduces the fuel required to haul more weight and makes room in vehicles for additional passenger once you arrive at your destination. Do, however, remember to make room for your reusable water bottle, to reduce paper and plastic waste during your trip.
When you choose a hotel, hostel or restaurant, take a moment to review lists of top rated green companies, and train yourself to recognize the businesses that mean to make a change in the world and those who are just looking for a tax break. Restaurants that work with sustainable farms, coffee shops that use 100% recycled and biodegradable products, and hotels that work to reduce waste and energy costs are all effective means of reducing your carbon footprint. Make sure that you purchase local as often as possible, considering the carbon footprint of the products you buy, and try to find companies that work local as well. Recycle as often as possible when available and always remember to pack out whatever you carry into National Parks, Reserves and any other wildlife areas.
Traveling is a great way to connect with cultures foreign to your own and gain understanding into the life of someone else. Before you leave for your trip, always do a small amount of research into the environmental concerns of the area you plan to travel, and remain conscious of not only your carbon footprint, but that of the products you purchase and the ways in which you will get from place to place. While packing one less outfit may not seem like revolutionary concept, it requires the efforts of people just like you to make a choice for the better each day. A greener, cleaner environment can be achieved if people will only begin to recognize the changes they can make to affect it.