bleached-coral

There’s no denying that travel has a significant environmental footprint, and it’s something we think about rather a lot at SUITCASE. Here are five ways to reduce your impact when you’re on the road.

1. Pick your destination wisely

Staycations and locations that are closer to home obviously reduce your transport-based footprint. For New Yorkers we’ve found places to rival The Hamptons; Parisians can head to these weekend getaways, while Londoners have plenty of beautiful stays less than two hours from the city. Wherever you live, there’s plenty more inspiration online. But if home turf no longer floats your boat, consider countries that are working in harmony with their environment. Namibia’s conservation and anti-poaching work set them apart from other safari destinations, while Costa Rica’s focus on ecotourism has seen hotels like Lapa Rios Ecolodge and Pacuare Lodge sexing up sustainability.

Research your destination carefully. Visiting countries that have a water shortage will put strain on the community, though travelling to an area recently struck by a natural disaster may help boost the local economy (and spirit). When you’re visiting tourist-popular natural wonders such as Iceland’s Gulfoss Waterfall or Phi Phi in Thailand, be mindful of how you behave. It sounds simple, but don’t touch coral and always put your rubbish in the appropriate bin – it’s alarming how much irresponsible tourism goes on, often due to ignorance.

2. Reuse, reuse, reuse

We can no longer ignore the effect that our plastic use is having on the environment. Carry a reusable bottle and avoid single-use plastics; most places will happily fill up your bottle and if you’re visiting natural springs like Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula, you can sometimes drink straight from the source. Many hotels are banning plastic straws, including Four Seasons, AccorHotels, Taj Hotels, Anatara and EDITION.

Be mindful when using hotel miniatures and pack solid soap or powdered deodorants – it’ll also free up your time when going through airport security. While it’s tempting to want to luxuriate in fresh white towels, there’s no need to have them changed daily – the same goes for your sheets. You could also consider packing a reusable camping fork to to take to street food markets, and you don’t need a bag as well as a box for your (soon to be eaten) treats.

3. Stay at eco-hotels

Before booking, check out your accommodation’s green credentials. What is their recycling policy? Do they dispose of food waste responsibly? Do they give back to the local community? Separate greenwashing from the places actually supporting causes.

Each country has various bodies that recognise the work of certified eco hotels. If you’re staying Stateside, have a look at which hotels have LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) verification. If you’re going to Central or South American, look out for lodgings that adhere to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council standards. In Australia, it’s Ecotourism Australia or Advanced Ecotourism status for those going the extra mile, such Silky Oaks Lodge near Queensland’s Mossman Gorge.

An increasing number of hotels worldwide are working to ensuring their destruction to the environment is as minimal as possible. Meet Me There is a no-frills eco lodge in Ghana putting profit into sanitation and healthcare facilities in the surrounding area, while Chile’s Tierra Atacama is South America’s first 100% solar-powered hotel. Putting sustainability first, Jicaro Island Lodge is among many eco-lodges working to protect the environmental nirvana that is Nicaragua, while Tongsai Bay in Koh Samui has been perfecting a food-waste policy for over 15 years, using it as fertiliser and compost, with most fruit and vegetables grown (organically) onsite.

4. Offset your carbon emissions

Most airlines give you the chance to offset your carbon emissions when buying a plane ticket. Usually, this will go towards reducing carbon elsewhere by planting trees or minimising methane gas in agriculture. Some environmentalists argue that it’s more beneficial to choose your own carbon-offset programme, so you can choose what will most benefit the country you’re visiting. Use Myclimate to calculate how much carbon your journey will use, then pick one of their varied global programmes.

If you are travelling long distances, think about staying for two weeks instead of one and travel in economy – as tempting as that air-mile upgrade is, by taking up less space in economy your emissions are less too.

5. Keep it local

Tourism may be a destination’s biggest industry, but to ensure the local community feel the benefits, keep it micro-local. By this we mean stay in a boutique hotel or homestay rather than a large resort (which are often foreign-owned). Smaller hotels are more likely to employ local people and use locally sourced products. If you go on a tour, rather than researching online or going to the nearest tourist office, ask around – a local resident (and personal guide) is often far better than anything you can book. When it comes to food, embrace the regional cuisine; if you’re by the coast, eat fish. The same goes for public transport; take buses, trams and trains to immerse yourself in local life while going green. If you need to take a car, make use of all seats if you can.

Discover More:

Eco-Aesthete: A Straw Poll on Single-Use Plastic in Hotels

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