By encouraging responsible travel practices, green travel aims to protect the environment, preserve local cultures, and strengthen local economies. It's about choosing the more sustainable way to travel the world and actively working to protect and preserve all the amazing things that the world has to offer.
Knowing this, how does one go about seeing the world in a more sustainable manner? Well, the key to any successful green travel experience is planning ahead. As there are many things to consider when planning a green travel experience, it's important that you are prepared to spend the necessary time to do it right.
If you haven't yet decided on a travel destination, take some time to weigh your options. Seriously think about potential destinations and how your trip may impact the environment, culture, and economy of the areas you're considering. If your travel destination has already been decided, then think about ways you can lessen any negative impacts, while bolstering any positive ones.
After deciding on a general destination, you'll need to consider your transportation options. Can you cut down on emissions by traveling to your desired destination by train or must you take a plane? If flying is your only option, try booking a non-stop flight as carbon emissions are particularly high during takeoff and landing.
You'll also need to consider your transportation options for after you've arrived. Though walking and cycling are obviously the most eco-conscious options, they aren't always the most practical. Another fairly green option is using public transportation, though sometimes renting a vehicle may still be required. In such cases, decline any "free" upgrades and stick with a small hybrid rental.
Beyond transportation, you'll also need to consider where you'll be lodging. You can help strengthen the local economy by staying in a place that hires local workers. Better yet, consider staying in lodging that is locally owned. It's also worth enquiring about the environmental policies of any places you're considering. What recycling, energy, and water usage policies are in place at the various locations?
Once you've decided on where you'll be staying, it's important that you yourself also adhere to a number of responsible travel practices during your trip. Keep showers short to conserve water. Turn off the television, lights, and air-conditioning before leaving your room. Ask if you can reuse your sheets and towels instead of having them changed on a daily basis.
While at your chosen destination, aim to further strengthen the local economy by making purchases from locally-owned businesses. When shopping, buy locally-produced items instead of ones flown in from other countries. When eating, hit up a local farmer's market or look for restaurants that incorporate locally-sourced ingredients in their culinary offerings.
Green travel is not only about protecting the environment and strengthening the local economy, however. It's also about respecting an area's residents and their culture. Take some time to learn about local customs, behaviors, and dress codes before arriving. Time permitting, try learning some phrases in the locally-spoken language if it differs from your own.
Though it can take more time to ensure that you're traveling in a sustainable, eco-conscious, and respectful manner, the benefits of green travel greatly outweigh any extra effort spent. By taking the time to plan a green travel experience, you'll not only be helping to protect the environment, but you'll also be helping to preserve local cultures and strengthen local economies.