Have you ever heard about the Green Key system for sustainable hotels? And did you remember a reusable water bottle to avoid unnecessary disposable plastic? In this post, I will give you some great advice so you can have a climate-friendly approach to your vacation.
Are you as green at home as you are on holiday? Get some good advice on how to have a climate-friendly behavior on your vacation.
Most people probably know the feeling of vacation time being a different kind of time than the time we spend at home every day – and just as we enjoy a little extra ice cream, fries, and mojitos, we might also leave our green habits at home.
If you wanna make greener choices at home you can read about 11 simple things you can change today to help the environment right.
However, as tourists, we have a responsibility to make as small of a climate impact in the countries we visit and on the globe in general as we possibly can.
With some better planning, you can easily get a better, cheaper and greener holiday – Without sacrificing the good holiday spirit that is. So here is the list of 20 things you can do on vacation to contribute to sustainable tourism – whether you are going skiing, visiting a big city or relaxing on the beach.
1 Go for an electric car
If you are going to use a car on your vacation, check if it is possible to rent an electric car and where to get it charged. More and more companies are offering electric cars, as demand increases. No matter what, ask the rental company for the opportunity so they get an idea that their customers want electric cars.
2 Bring your own water bottle
We are so used to water being available that we forget that it is not everywhere where we can drink straight from the tap. Whether you are traveling to a place where you can drink the water or not, the reusable bottle is just a good idea. It saves you a lot of unnecessary plastic and money consumption. If you are traveling to a country where tap water is not drinking water, buy large canisters and fill them and the reusable bottles up when you go on a trip. Remember to bring one for everyone in the family.
If you are traveling on a winter holiday in the snow, consider whether you can also accommodate a small thermos bottle and a few mugs in the luggage. Then you can bring coffee, tea or cocoa yourself instead of buying mugs with plastic covers.
3 Go for Green Hotels
In a lot of places, parts of the tourism industry are well on the way in a sustainable direction. But there are big differences from hotel to hotel and region to region. The most widely used certifications are Green Globe and Green Key Global.
Typically, the big chains have the resources for a real green certification, but you can also go for the small local Bed and Breakfast, where the owners have a green profile. If it is not possible to find green hotels, make sure to make suggestions and ask questions about their future plans in this matter when you are there, that way they know there is a market for it.
4 Do your own laundry
In a lot of hotels, guests’ clothes are washed in a separate washing machine and the washing powder is rarely the most environmentally friendly. Instead, wash your own clothes and hang it in the bathroom to dry.
If possible – Bring your own detergent, as in some places it is really difficult to find perfume-free detergent.
5 Remember the reusable shopping bag
No matter where you travel, you have to go shopping. In many countries, the food you buy typically comes in the free, small plastic bags that end up in a trash can or in nature. You don’t want to spend your holiday looking for sustainable shopping bags, so make sure you have your own. They take up no space in your suitcase and they can also be used to store anything else you need to take with you on a trip.
6 Find the local markets
In many countries, local people shop in markets rather than in supermarkets. You can often find local, delicious products on the market. It can be one large mix of pigs’ heads, exotic fruits, and live chickens. But the products you find here are often locally grown.
Often you can find the local markets mentioned in tourist guides or by a quick search on the web. And otherwise, you can, of course, ask one of the locals where you find a market. It’s really worth an experience. Remember to bring your own small bags so you can avoid the plastic bags the groceries are often packed in.
7 Take short baths
We are privileged with good water resources in our part of the world. But if you travel just a small distance away to for example South America or South Europe things don’t look the same. So be sure to take short baths.
8 Bring or buy your own soap bar
You can save the world of a lot of plastic and the environment for unnecessary chemistry by using a soap bar instead of soap from a plastic bottle. Do you want to be sure that the soap is perfume-free? Then bring one from home. The same applies to your other products – if you bring your own products, you are sure that you are not pouring unnecessary chemistry into the drain.
9 Use towels more than once
If you live in a hotel or apartment with cleaning, hang the towels so that they are not washed unnecessarily. Few of us wash towels more than once a week at home, so it is rarely necessary on holiday.
10 Use the ‘Do not disturb’-sign
At most hotels, you can hang a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door, and then the cleaning staff won’t clean your room. So unless you really need cleaning in the room, hang the sign. It can save the environment for the unnecessary chemicals that are often used for cleaning.
11 Turn off all the power
If your hotel or apartment does not have a system where the electricity turns off when you go, do it yourself. You would probably never leave a lamp turned on at home, so why would you on holiday. If you travel to a warm place, always pull the curtains down before you go, so you don’t return to a room the sun has turned into a sauna. It can reduce the use of air conditioning. It is important to remember that in many countries, most of the electricity comes from non-renewable energy.
12 Skip the taxi
It is really tempting to jump into a taxi when staying in a foreign country and not knowing the transport system. But besides helping the climate, there is also a cultural and economic gain from taking public transport. It’s almost always cheaper, and you get a good chance of getting a little closer to the people who live in the country. Especially if you choose the public transport that is not designed for tourists.
13 Reuse maps and brochures
You often get a lot of tourist information such as brochures and maps when you arrive in a new country. Most of them end up in the bin but instead return it to the hotel. You can’t decide if they throw it out, but then they have the opportunity to reuse it for the next guests.
14 Be picky with restaurants
Good local food is an important part of any holiday. But just as we examine a restaurant back home before we decide whether we should eat there, we should examine restaurants on our holiday. There is a big difference between where they get their goods, and whether they prioritize ecology on the menu.
Prepare a list in advance of the restaurants you want to eat at so you won’t have to spend time on it during your holiday. I always spend too much time finding restaurants when I am on vacation. So make it easy for yourself by doing some research in advance.
15 Find the local artists
If you are traveling to a place with a local tradition of craftsmanship, instead of buying plastic souvenirs produced in China from the tourist shops, try looking up local artists. You get much finer and unique products, while the carbon footprint from the production is probably much smaller.
16 Rent or lend equipment
If you are going on a vacation that requires equipment, then rent or lend it instead of buying. Before you buy yourself poor in trekking or skiing equipment, consider how many times you really need it or if it will just gather dust in the attic. Instead, explore the possibilities of renting or borrowing equipment either at home or where you’re going.
17 Make a climate-friendly plan
If you travel together as a group, it may be difficult to get everyone to go to the local biodynamic vegetarian restaurant when half of the company prefer to go to Burger King. So talk about why these things are important to you (and the globe!) And find out where you can agree in advance. Find some compromises you all think are fine. Offer to be the one who is planning trips, finding restaurants or shopping, so you can pull the vacation in a climate-friendly direction. Sometimes the best adventures happen when you try something new.
18 Remember your reusable straw
Vacation time is drinks time! And if you prefer a straw in your cocktail, take a reusable straw with you in your bag. It takes up no space.
19 Take the used shampoo bottle home
I have always been a little embarrassed that I consistently took the small bottles of shampoo and soap home from the hotels. But it is actually a good idea if you have just used some of the content in the bottles. Many hotels throw out the bottles if they are used. So you might as well take them home, use the content and recycle the bottle.
20 Pack as little as possible
When packing from home, it’s a good idea to think about how much you really need. The more you put in the backpack or the suitcase, the greater the carbon footprint you leave on your journey. So ask yourself “is this necessary” every time you are holding a thing you want to pack in your suitcase.
If you want to learn more about how to sort and recycle your waste, you can read this post: The ultimate guide on how to sort and recycle your waste
Thank you for reading!
You have now completed reading 20 things you can do on vacation to contribute to sustainable tourism. Let me know in the comments what you think.
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