How to Travel the World Without Harming the Planet - Seeker's Thoughts

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How to Travel the World Without Harming the Planet


sustainable travel
Sustainable travel

How to Travel the World Without Harming the Planet


Travel and tourism generate considerable greenhouse emissions, but sustainable practices can reduce this impact. Here are some actionable tips that can make your next journey more eco-friendly - from choosing a destination to how you spend your time there.


Avoiding airplane travel is the primary way to reduce your environmental footprint, but traveling locally can make a considerable difference too. Explore your home country or neighboring nations instead of venturing further afield.


1. Avoid Animal Entertainment


An Instagram selfie with a tiger may get you many likes on Instagram, but at a heavy cost to the animal. 

Every year thousands of wild animals are removed from their natural environments and placed into captivity to entertain tourists - many being drugged, beaten or electric shocked into submission to make them behave properly so as to reduce social interactions found within their wild environments.


Domesticated animals like horses and donkeys can also become victims of tourism-driven cruelty, as tourists force them to carry heavy loads for them and traverse treacherous terrain or stairs that puts the animal's health and wellbeing in jeopardy - this puts both themselves and humans at serious risk.


Avoid engaging with live animals when traveling and do not purchase souvenirs made from wild animal parts as souvenirs, including ivory, bones, teeth, shatoosh fleece items and coral as well as traditional medicines made with bear bile or other animal products. Even seemingly friendly wild animals may spread diseases through bites or scratches as well as urine and feces that could harm you; ensure you receive up-to-date rabies vaccination and wash off any bites or scratches immediately from wildlife.


2. Go Veggie


Escaping from fossil-fueled travel is easier with a plant-based diet! Although this may not always be easy, you can make the most of your trip without harming our planet by planning ahead and being open-minded when searching for food that fits with this diet. 

Consider booking accommodations with kitchens if possible and bring snacks instead of resorting to hotel buffets as snacks; resources like Happy Cow and Facebook may help you access local vegan communities! You might even meet like-minded individuals!


Keep in mind that every culture has their own customs surrounding animal slaughter for food - be it meat or cheese production. Although this practice may seem inhumane, don't stress over it too much - just do what feels right to you.


3. Stay Off the Grid


Many people dream of taking a long-term vacation that allows them to escape modern conveniences and reconnect with nature, without WIFI connectivity or rustic cabins tucked into scenic mountains. 

For some this dream can easily come true at destinations that provide WIFI-free hikes in remote forests or rustic cabins set amidst picturesque mountains.


Before booking a digital detox trip, however, take time to evaluate your level of comfort. Knowing what can and cannot go without when embarking on such an experience is vital.

 "There are numerous options out there to help find your ideal balance - such as glamping destinations with electricity and running water as well as retreat centers that offer limited Internet access that provide detox experiences," Woodford advises.


Idealistically, experts advise travel as little as possible in order to reduce carbon emissions and keep emissions down. When flying, experts suggest choosing airlines which use more sustainable jet fuel, according to Hayhoe. When flying directly with economy seats opting for direct flights can maximize passenger load capacities on each flight thereby cutting carbon emissions down further.


4. Don't Waste Water


Water is one of the world's most precious natural resources and yet, when travelling, we often overlook this vital resource. From taking showers instead of baths to bringing your own water bottle (with an inbuilt filter) and not buying bottled water from retailers - saving more water when travelling is possible!


Avoiding meat production uses much water and its waste pollutes the environment as well. By choosing plant-based meals instead, you can lower your water use significantly and help preserve our ecosystems.


Hayhoe recommends when traveling by plane, searching for airlines who use more sustainable jet fuel sources; but also bears in mind that flying remains one of the most energy-intensive modes of travel.


Consider cutting down on waste by opting for digital travel documents whenever possible. Storing them safely on an external hard drive or USB can help protect any important files while also decreasing paper consumption.


5. Don't Fly


Flying is the least eco-friendly element of travel and accounts for around 2% of global carbon emissions, according to experts. If possible, experts advise eschewing flights for train rides instead; though this might be easier in regions with well-established railway networks compared with others.


Flying can also be hazardous for those with compromised immune systems. The pressurized cabin environment and close proximity of 200 strangers puts passengers at greater risk for picking up germs and falling sick during flight.


If you are sick with an infectious condition -- such as coronavirus or another respiratory disease -- it is wiser to postpone travel until your condition has subsided and you no longer pose an infectious threat.


6. Don't Waste Paper


No matter the purpose of your trip, all paper items eventually end up in the bin. To reduce waste on the road, bring along a smartphone and use apps as replacements during your journey.


Consider staying at local market stalls or hostels instead of all-inclusive hotels to immerse yourself more deeply into culture, while cutting down on unnecessary paper waste.


Avoid single-use plastics like q-tips, tissues, disposable razors and cotton pads by opting for reusable cloth bags to carry your toiletries and biodegradable replacement blades for your stainless steel safety razor; this will reduce landfill waste. Likewise, purchasing food to go in reusable styrofoam or glass containers helps support local market stalls by helping prevent plastic waste while supporting them at the same time.


8. Go Green


Traveling green may appear challenging and time-consuming, but Insider spoke to five experts who said it isn't. With just a few changes made to your routine, your impact won't exceed that of leaving charcoal footprints behind on Mother Earth.


One of the best ways to lower your carbon footprint, experts agree, is traveling locally. By visiting nearby destinations instead of long-haul flights that produce lots of CO2, your emissions will decrease considerably. Also eco-friendly are bus or train travel (such as Megabus which runs between London and Newcastle for just PS17), eco tours led by local guides or hikes led by them.


Experts advise choosing nonstop economy flights and limiting your international trips if possible, experts suggest. You could also offset your flight emissions through Ecologi or Carbon Neutral programs by selecting projects such as reforestation or biodiversity enhancement projects that benefit where you're travelling to offset them. Finally, support businesses who prioritize sustainability: "When making reservations at hotels ask about their energy, water and waste conservation practices" suggests Woodford.

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