When we think about sustainable travel, most of us are confident in our knowledge of the main dos and don’ts. Do pack as little plastic as possible, don’t take any unnecessary flights, and definitely do not touch the coral. But in order to be a true ambassador of sustainable travel, we need to consider a few more factors. So without further ado, here is our comprehensive sustainable travel guide.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL?
Sustainable travel is an approach to tourism that encourages a mindful evaluation of the environmental, social, and economic impacts of our actions abroad – both now and in the future. It primarily aims to minimise the negative effects of tourism, while also trying to benefit the people and places being visited.
Ultimately, sustainable travel seeks to maximise the enjoyment of exploring our world whilst ensuring there will be plenty of its natural wonder left for future generations to experience.
WHY IS SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL IMPORTANT?
Tourism is responsible for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is an unavoidable statistic and it’s vital that the travel industry as a whole as well as us, as individuals, take action to lower the overall contribution. But while this is a frightening figure, don’t let it put you off your exploration ambitions altogether. If we travel sustainably, we can reduce our carbon footprint by making eco-friendly decisions.
It is also crucial that we factor-in the economic and social impact of our travels. Economically, it’s important our holiday funds find their way into the hands of local businesses intending to support the local economy. Understanding the values of the businesses we give our money to, and thinking twice about buying certain products, demonstrates our intentions to benefit the communities of the places we visit.
Sustainable tourism improves the way we engage with the values and traditions of the local people, too. By researching our desired destinations beforehand, including learning a little of the language, we will be making our presence more enjoyable for the native people as well as enhancing our own experiences.
There’s plenty to think about when it comes to sustainable travel, so we’ve done the hard work for you and broken it down into our top 12 tips.
OUR TOP 12 SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL TIPS
Try a Staycation
One of the general rules of sustainable travel is the shorter the distance you go from home, the smaller your carbon footprint. And while this statement may be true, it doesn’t mean sacrificing an enjoyable adventure to uphold it. See what your home town has to offer and discover your own local gems. If you fancy venturing out for a change of scenery, travel to a nearby city, beach, forest or countryside for a more local experience you never knew existed.
Book Eco-Friendly Accommodation
For those of you set on exploring the wider corners of the world, use ecotourism companies to find accommodation that actively supports sustainable travel. If you’re sorting your stay elsewhere, look for hotels and eco-lodges with “green” certifications, such as Green Key and Green Globe. These certifications help to eradicate greenwashing companies: hotels and hostels that claim to be eco-friendly with little to no evidence that they are.
Fly with Purpose
It may come as no surprise that transport is the largest contributor to tourism’s alarming CO2 emissions – with air travel top of the pile for the worst form of sustainable travel. While it may be difficult to avoid flying altogether, we can reduce the impact of our aviation carbon footprint by flying directly to our destination and eliminating any unnecessary short flights. Planes use a considerable amount of fuel reaching altitude and descending, meaning the shorter the distance, the less efficient. Consider taking alternative means of transport for shorter distances, such as a car or train.
Embrace Slow Travel
If you’re planning a trip with multiple stops, take your time travelling from place to place. Stepping into the slow lane can help you engage more with the cultures of every destination on your route and benefit local communities by getting involved in local activities, eating local food and supporting local business.
You can also take slower means of transport, like hopping on a train as opposed to flying. Trains are one of the most efficient forms of sustainable travel – emitting considerably less CO2 than going by plane. Although the journey may be longer, you can use the time to research the place you are going to, enjoy the scenery and arrive at your next stop well-rested and ready to explore. Your choice of transport when you arrive at your destination is also important, consider swapping short taxi rides for public transport, this is particularly worthwhile in a city as busy as London.
Before you set off, take some time to consider your wardrobe-essentials. Pack as few clothes as possible and pick out versatile garments that work well together and can be layered. It’s also worth weighing up whether to sack the hardback and take a Kindle or iPad for your books. By keeping your suitcase weight to a minimum, you are increasing the ease of transportation and decreasing your carbon emissions.
As well as packing light, packing smart is essential for effective sustainable travel. Rather than purchasing packaged snacks for long journeys, take a small container with you and fill it up with fruit, nuts and tasty food from local vendors. This reduces your plastic consumption and helps to support the local food economy.
You can also keep your plastic waste down by packing a biodegradable toothbrush and reusable toiletry containers for things like shampoo and soap. Also, consider packing a reusable water bottle and reusable straw. These are both great alternatives to their plastic counterparts and can make your life a whole lot easier; some more expensive reusable water bottles come with an embedded filter, making the local water lighter on the stomach.
Beware of Browsing
It may come as a surprise to learn that using your mobile phone for streaming films on Netflix, storing photos to the cloud and downloading apps, contributes to roughly the same amount of CO2 emissions as air travel. This is mainly due to the sheer amount of energy needed by data centres to function and the additional demand required by air conditioners to keep them cool.
Try to keep your mobile phone usage to the bare minimum and only for exceptional circumstances. If you want to be a true champion of sustainable travel, leave your phone behind entirely and take a full digital detox at one of our luxury villas in Ibiza.
Food for Thought
Livestock accounts for roughly 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions every year, so consider switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet on your travels. Keeping livestock can also be expensive and out of budget for many smaller restaurants – especially in poorer regions. Take it as an opportunity to try new foods and go bold with local delicacies.
That being said, you should always look to support local farmers over large-industry or external businesses. Keep an eye out for what the local’s order; their choices are likely to be sourced locally and taste great, too. Ensure you steer clear of Western-style buffets like all-you-can-eat restaurants, these types of restaurants often stifle any opportunities to explore new cuisines and produce vast amounts of waste.
Take a Cooking Class
There are few better ways to get stuck into exciting new cuisines than taking a cooking class. This presents a fantastic opportunity to support the local economy, learn new skills for life and enjoy some delicious food! It might also help with improving your vocabulary and presents a platform to ask questions about the agriculture and farming systems of the local area.
Mother Nature is Boss
Remember, animals are not a backdrop or a sidekick for your next Instagram post. The natural wonders of the animal kingdom are often irresistible, and while you shouldn’t be discouraged from marvelling at the work of Mother Nature, you should be aware of the impact of your interaction.
Tourist attractions like swimming with dolphins, snorkelling with whale sharks and riding elephants, can cause animals high levels of stress, particularly when overtourism occurs. Experiences that involve routine feeding may change animals’ feeding behaviours and draw them away from their natural habitats as well as disturb their native ecosystems.
It’s also worth mentioning one more time that you must never touch coral reefs. Touching a piece of coral, whether intentionally or accidentally, may damage its protective layer and potentially result in its death.
Respect the Culture
Respecting the local culture and traditions of the places you visit is a cornerstone of sustainable travel. Make sure you are familiar with the region’s religious beliefs and consider how you should adjust your behaviour. You may need to consider events such as prayer time, where shops and restaurants go quiet for temporary closure. The same goes for the food and drink you consume and when you consume them.
Many cultures discourage the consumption of alcohol, especially in public places, so familiarise yourself with what’s appropriate.
It is also vital that you dress respectfully; research the places you will be visiting and pack accordingly. Make an effort as best you can with speaking the native language – even if you do a terrible job of it. Additionally, you should always acknowledge photo-etiquette, particularly if you are visiting sacred places. Applying these considerations to your travelling mentality will not only make the local people more comfortable with your presence but will make your journey more enjoyable as well.
Shop to Support
Splashing the cash on cheaply made, tokenistic items imported from far away, may not only damage the local economy but could come across as disingenuous and disrespectful to the local people. Similarly, you need to factor in other reasons why items from certain businesses might be so cheap.
Research the area you are visiting to avoid giving your money to businesses that engage in unsustainable activities. While this may not be something encountered regularly, it is an important point of consideration when setting our goals for sustainable travel. Instead, use your research to trade with businesses that support the local economy and employ local people. It is also likely that these types of businesses consider climate change at the heart of everything they do, meaning you can invest in their sustainable development.
HOW BUCKINGHAM & LLOYDS SUPPORTS SUSTAINABILITY
Here at Buckingham & Lloyds, we recognise the importance of sustainability and constantly seek new ways to contribute to the future generation’s health and happiness.
We have eradicated single-use plastics from our business and turned our attention to eco-friendly brands. By implementing refills and sustainable materials throughout Buckingham & Lloyds, we have been able to continually reduce our carbon footprint, whilst simultaneously providing our guests with the same level of luxury experience that they expect.
We champion sustainability by collaborating with local or British brands. Whether it’s for a gift hamper or an art display, keeping things close to home not only reduces our carbon footprint but supports local business as well.
We like to keep our food as fresh as our sustainability ideas. At our London aparthotels we make the use of local or British produce picked out by our chef, with seasonal, local and organic ingredients a top priority. It’s often easy to forget how far our food travels to our plates, mainly due to the convenience of modern-day grocery shopping, but it’s crucial to consider the environmental impact of long food journeys from Europe and beyond on our carbon emissions. Additionally, the further fresh produce travels, the greater the chance of it suffering in quality and experiencing contamination.
We actively seek to work with suppliers that reciprocate our goals and dedication to sustainability. We aim to transcend this same motivation and embed environmental awareness into our staff and guest culture. The Buckingham & Lloyds experience marries the very best in luxury with a committed, environmentally-conscious approach. Through our low-emission private jets and sustainably-conscious yachting partnerships in Ibiza, sustainable travel is always at the forefront of our services now and for the future.