Sustainable Travel Tips

Suzanna Pinder on 11 June 2023
Sustainability has long been a passion of mine and I am thrilled to have been chosen to take part in the 2023 Travel Trade Gazette Sustainable Travel Ambassador programme, following my commitment to promoting and practicing sustainable and responsible travel.

The Travel Trade Gazette (TTG) is THE travel industry publication and along with their six Sustainable Travel Heroes – Avis, G Touring, Greek National Tourism Organisation, Hurtigruten, Iberostar and Intrepid – I am currently undertaking a series of training sessions to learn more about how to help both you and I not only reduce our impact whilst travelling, but also how to have a positive impact on the destinations we visit.

With a little mindfulness, I believe travel can benefit our planet, our ecosystems and support local communities, ultimately creating a more sustainable world for future generations.

To kick things off, here’s a few of my tips to help become a responsible traveller:

1. FLY LESS - Appreciate not always achievable for long distances, but for short haul, why not consider train, driving or ferry to reduce carbon emissions? For example, did you know that taking the train to Paris instead of flying can reduce emissions by up to 90%. Travelling through a country, rather than flying over it, you also get to see so much more and can make the journey part of the experience, rather than simply travelling from A to B.

2. CARBON OFFSET - To help compensate for emissions you are not able to completely eliminate, invest in projects designed to remove emissions from the atmosphere and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Working with our partner, Trees4Travel, I can help calculate and offset the emissions of a trip, not only by planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide, but contributing towards United Nations certified emission reduction projects, effectively doubling up the compensation. The projects supported are linked with UN Sustainable Development Goals to ensure local communities receive social and economic benefits.

3. TAKE LESS HOLIDAYS BUT STAY FOR LONGER - Do you really need that mini-break to Venice this year and a long weekend in Rome next year, equating to two return flights to Italy? Rather than taking two short breaks, consider combining Venice and Rome into one longer trip, only taking one return flight and enjoying an added beautiful train ride or scenic drive through the Italian countryside.

4. CHOOSE YOUR NEXT DESTINATION WISELY - Many cities and countries around the world are finding unique ways to welcome visitors in a more sustainable way. The Azores are an outdoor lovers paradise and in 2019 became the first island archipelago certified under the EarthCheck Sustainable Destination programme in recognition of their commitment to protecting resources. The city of Vancouver is a big leader in urban green initiatives, including an extensive network of trams, electric buses and cycle lanes to reduce travel emissions, a farm to fork campaign to reduce food miles, to become a zero waste community by 2040 and use 100% renewable energy by 2050.

5. CHOOSE SUSTAINABLE ACCOMODATION AND PROVIDERS - Whether a self-catered property using renewable energy and buying food and supplies directly from local providers, through to an all-inclusive hotel with zero-single use plastic policy and involvement in local conservation projects, there are some wonderful sustainable properties to choose from. At Travel Counsellors we operate a Green Leaf Logo system, meaning properties have been certified by an organisation using criteria created by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, working to maximise social and economic benefits in the local community, enhancing cultural heritage, reducing negative impacts on the environment and effectively planning for the future with sustainability in mind.

6. SUPPORT LOCAL COMMUNITIES - The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that 10% of global jobs are reliant on travel and tourism, with some destinations up to 30%. By travelling more responsibly, you can help unique cultural customs remain intact and prevent the negative impacts of over tourism. By shopping and eating at locally owned businesses you can get a truer taste of your destination, enjoy a more authentic experience and know you are supporting the local economy, helping to create jobs and removing dependence on fundraising or aid.

7. NO SINGLE USE PLASTIC - Despite years of the damages caused by single use plastic, in some developing countries in particular, there are still tons of plastic bags, cups, bottles, cutlery and alike being offered to tourists. Simply take your own sustainable shopping bag, water bottle to refill, cutlery to reuse and reusable coffee cup. If you are worried about drinking the local water, there are many wonderful filtration bottles on the market nowadays, filtering out up 99.99% of nasties, meaning you can literally fill your bottle anywhere.

8. ETHICAL WILDLIFE - No animal should be captured from the wild for the purposes of entertainment, subjected to exploitation, neglect and cruelty. Only view and support wildlife in their natural habitat or at ethical rehabilitation and rehoming projects. I will only promote operators and suppliers I know operate safe and fair practice towards animals.

9. VOLUNTEER IN LOCAL COMMUNITY PROJECTS - There are so many valuable charities and projects worldwide looking for assistance from simply taking a few pencils and paper to help underprivileged children, through to assisting build shelters or teaching locals useful skills. Just a couple of hours out of your holiday can make the world of difference to those less fortunate. Pack for Purpose is a great organisation, working to positively impact communities around the world by assisting travellers who want to take meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit.

10. TRAVEL PAPERLESS - Rather than printing off endless documents, using our nifty myTC app gives access to all your important holiday paperwork in seconds and not just the documents I send – for example, if you have sorted your own visa or would like your travel insurance document to hand, no problem… just send me the documents and I will upload so you know everything is in one place.

I am also all ears… let me know your sustainable travel tips and ways in which you believe travel can benefit the world for good?