Summer is here and with its arrival, the desire to travel is back on the rise. As more people receive the vaccine, they are eager to leave home and once again have the ability to travel overseas. The question is: how can we minimize our impact on the planet as we embark upon these journeys? 

Travel can open your mind to a wide variety of new experiences and possibilities. However, traveling also means putting greater pressure on Earth’s precious resources. As such, we must consider how we can be more ethical travelers and preserve the land for future generations to enjoy. 

There are a variety of different ways to travel this summer that truly can be in harmony with the planet. To get you started, we have gathered this list of travel tips for you to consider this summer.

Do Your Research 

It is critical to do your research ahead of time and think about the impact each of your activities and accommodations may have on the planet. Researching ahead of time allows you to explore conscious options without having to compromise on the fun.

When looking for accommodations, try to find places that operate with sustainability efforts in mind. This website helps you locate hotels with great initiatives such as recycling programs and social projects. They look into factors including water and energy consumption, waste management, architecture, food, employee rights, and cultural commitments.

Pack Lightly

This is a simple and not often utilized tip. The less you pack, the less impact you have on the environment. When your bag weighs less, so does the airplane, which in turn means less fuel and fewer carbon emissions.

black DSLR camera near sunglasses and bag

Packing lightly also means you can use public transportation with more ease. It can save you money on baggage fees and can make it easier to get around. Here you can find a resource guide on How To Travel Light.

No Pre-Trip Shopping Spree 

Unless it is absolutely necessary, avoid buying new clothes just for your trip. After the oil industry, the fashion industry is the second highest polluter globally, due in part to the concept of fast fashion. The phrase fast fashion is used to describe trendy clothing that moves rapidly from the runway to stores allowing consumers to quickly and easily purchase popular new looks. The fast fashion industry has drastic effects on the environment in terms of water, land, and energy consumption. 

So whenever possible, avoid buying new clothes for travel, however, if you do have to purchase new clothes, buy second-hand or from local fashion stores instead of fast-fashion brands like the Gap or H&M.

Fly Nonstop 

A non-stop flight is a flight with no connections between your departure to your destination. Nonstop flights mean less fuel and carbon emissions being produced. Most people prefer to fly nonstop because it also saves time and energy. 

aerial photography of airliner

This helpful website even allows you to calculate the carbon footprint of your flight. 

Use Planet-Friendly Products

From reusable products to organic sunscreens, one of the easiest ways to travel with the planet in mind is to use planet friendly products. Here are some planet-friendly products that should be part of your travel pack. These simple swaps will help you travel more responsibly.

Support Local Establishments 

Supporting local businesses helps the environment because they often have a smaller carbon footprint than big corporations. Locally owned restaurants create more jobs for the community and often provide better wages and benefits than chain restaurants.

Where we choose to spend our money matters, so if you can, give back to the local economy and spend your dollars supporting a local establishment. Local restaurants also tend to source organic foods and are typically leaders in the area for more eco-conscious and responsible business practices. 

Use Public Transportation 

When available, take public transportation. Traveling by train, bus, or bike is a great way to decrease carbon emissions. Utilizing public transportation creates an efficient and affordable way to travel. 

white and red train beside building at daytime

Not only does public transportation have a lower environmental impact than driving or flying, but it can also provide some amazing views of the city or countryside. Check out this Planet Home article on how Public Transit Helps Your Wallet and The Planet!

Respect Locals

Part of traveling with the planet in mind is making simple choices in order to lessen your negative impact, whether that be on the environment or on people. When traveling to another country, the local culture may differ greatly from your own. 

Make sure to read about and understand the culture of your destination. Keep in mind that the work extends beyond research, you should be recognizing your own prejudices and constantly reminding yourself that you are a guest in their country. 

Spend Time In Nature

Connecting with nature as you travel is a beautiful way to disconnect from your online presence and explore the great outdoors. Whilst on your trip we encourage you to spend time in nature and appreciate wildlife whenever possible. 

As you enjoy these outdoor spaces, it is important to understand the impact of your travel. Ecotourism refers to responsible travel to natural areas. This Planet Home article has everything you need to know about ecotourism.

person carrying yellow and black backpack walking between green plants

We recommend researching local outdoor recreation activities or choosing to stay somewhere scenic. You can also try some of these outdoor mindfulness activities. As comfortable as the hotel bed might be, taking the time to connect with nature is an amazing form of self-care.

Leave No Trace

This is arguably one of the most important items on this list. There are seven principles to Leave No Trace, but at its core, it simply means ensuring that you leave a space just as pristine or even better than when you found it. Whether you are in a city or on a trail, please remember to pick up after yourself. 

As a tourist, it is common to receive brochures from visitors’ centers. These can be very useful when traveling, but at the end of the trip, they often become litter. Make sure to properly discard your trash or even better, give the brochures back to your concierge so that they can be reused.

Most of us never intend any harm, but we may not be aware of the impact our decisions have on the environment. Continue to keep the Leave No Trace practices in mind as you travel so that we can all continue enjoying the natural world.