Top 10 Tips for Sustainable Travel

June 10, 2021

Top 10 Tips for Sustainable Travel 

As of today, more than 300 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered worldwide. Though there is still a ways to go before the pandemic is over, it’s officially starting to feel like the end is in sight. After a year-long pause, what will the return of tourism look like? Or a better question: what should it look like? 

Over the past two decades, the number of international tourist arrivals more than doubled, surpassing 1.4 billion in 2019. While this tourism boom promoted economic growth and personal fulfillment, it often came at the expense of the environment and local communities. As tourism surged, it came hand in hand with gentrification, crowded streets, pollution, and habitat loss.

In recent years, destinations began implementing measures to combat the burdens of unsustainable tourism: Hawaii banned the sale of reef-toxic sunscreens, Dubrovnik limited the number of cruise ships that can dock each day, Palau protected 80% of its waters, and Barcelona cracked down on illegal vacation rentals. While these are certainly steps in the right direction, there’s still much more to be done.

As a traveler, you can be part of the solution. As tourism recovers from the pandemic, we have an unprecedented opportunity to start things fresh and choose a more sustainable path forward. There’s never been a better time to rethink past habits and reshape the way we travel!

What is sustainable tourism?

Before we go any further, it’s important to clarify what we mean by sustainable travel.

While people often think of sustainability as minimizing our environmental footprint, it is in fact much broader and all-encompassing than this. Sustainable tourism is all about achieving a balance between economic growth, human well-being, and environmental health. It focuses on reducing tourism’s negative impacts and on maximizing its positive benefits for communities, cultures, ecosystems, and the planet. Sustainable tourism accounts for both the immediate impacts felt today as well as those longer-term impacts that will be experienced by future generations.

You’ve probably seen other buzzwords such as “ecotourism,” “regenerative travel,” “community-based tourism,” “ethical travel,” or “nature-tourism” and wondered how they differ from “sustainable tourism.” Without getting into the nuances of each, these terms tend to be narrower in scope and focus on specific applications or aspects of sustainable tourism. For instance, ecotourism specifically focuses on responsible travel to natural areas, while regenerative travel focuses more on leaving places better than they were before and repairing the damage that has already been done.

How to start traveling more sustainably

While it’s one thing to understand what sustainable travel means, it’s another to actually put it into practice. That’s why we’ve rounded up our top ten tips for sustainable travel right now. As you read, think about which practices you can adopt once you start traveling!