Going green while travelling is easier than you think.
While our love for globetrotting grows, issues like overtourism, emissions and single-use plastics mean that our travel may not always be good for the planet. But we can reverse course. "Travellers hold the power," says Shannon Guihan, director of TreadRight, a non-profit foundation that supports sustainable tourism projects. "Your purchasing decisions can influence travel companies and their practices." Here's how.
Choose hotels that work with organizations like the Rainforest Alliance, which encourages energy conservation and waste reduction via solar power, composting and greywater programs (whereby shower and bath water is reused to flush toilets). Ask your CAA Travel consultant about booking a Rainforest Alliance–partner hotel, such as Dreams or Sandos.
Say no to plastics.
Avoid single-use plastic bottles, straws, baggies and cutlery. Aluminum water bottles, cotton shopping bags and collapsible, silicone coffee cups are excellent alternatives. To take things a step further, save your airport liquids bag to reuse it next time you fly, and pack a homemade meal to avoid one-use wrappings used for in-flight foods.
Book a sustainable tour.
Travel with operators that help local communities and promote area businesses. With Trafalgar, for instance, you can have lunch with a Thai chief to learn about village life. Or visit England and stay at a historic home restored by the National Trust. For more hands-on experiences, Contiki has partnered with Me to We, so travellers can volunteer to work in a community.
A lighter suitcase means your flight will use fewer carbon emissions. Bring reef-friendly sunscreen to help preserve underwater ecosystems—a good option is Banana Boat Simply Protect SPF 50. Pack toiletries from home to avoid wasting those tiny hotel shampoos. Learn how to pack smart with CAA packing accessories.
Book direct flights to reduce takeoffs and landings (which produce more emissions), and try to fly with airlines that use biofuels—like Alaska Airlines—or those that offer carbon offset programs. Opt for public transit over domestic flights when indestination, and skip gas-guzzling yachts or speed boats on the water and spend the day kayaking or sailing instead.
In a world where nearly everyone travels at least once a year, the little things tourists do can really add up. Turn off hotel room lights, recycle disposables and leave wild flora and fauna where you find it. Purchase souvenirs made by local artisans, visit national parks and conservancies, and donate to reputable conservation programs such as Sustainable Travel International.