Sustainable Travel: Visiting Sites Without Leaving an Environmental Impact

Two Young Tourists With Backpacks Sightseeing City

Traveling has become easier and affordable. But it has become more damaging to the environment. A study shows global tourism produces about eight percent of carbon emissions, which is three times greater than expected. The study looked into the emissions from travel and the full life-cycle of carbon in food, hotels, and shopping of tourists.

Although tourism benefits the economy of a specific place, overtourism hurts many of the world’s historical sites. The government of Peru, for instance, has to limit the number of people who can visit Machu Picchu per day to protect the site.

Despite the environmental impact of overtourism, you can still travel around the world and visit as many historical sites as possible, whether it’s with the family or as part of your Mormon trip. Sustainability plays a crucial in reducing your environmental impact when traveling.

The Importance of Sustainable Travel

Visiting attractions around the world is rewarding for travelers as well as for the destinations. Tourism, however, creates pollution in the long run. The transportation of tourists, for instance, causes air pollution. In America, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says 28.9 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from cars, ships, trains, and aircraft.

Irresponsible tourists also tend to litter at some tourists spots, leaving it full of garbage. Experts say waste disposal is a major problem in the natural environment. It greatly affects the animals living in areas where human waste ends up. Responsible travelers do not engage in activities that leave such an impact on the places they visit.

So how do you become a conscious traveler?

Sustainable Practices When Traveling

Sustainable travel simply means minimizing your impact on the communities, environment, and animals that depend on and live in them. Under this concept lies the idea of ethical travel, which is respecting the cultures and environment of the places you go to. And practicing both as a responsible traveler is easier than you think.

Start with the following:

Ride trains whenever possible

Researchers suggest traveling by train is the quickest way to reduce greenhouse gases. This option has a lower energy footprint compared to trucks and cars due to its efficient energy and environmental performance.

Not all destinations are accessible via trains, though. If possible, avoid domestic flights when visiting sites within the same destination. Instead, use local public transportation or travel by bike.

Find sustainable lodging

On your next trip, stay at sustainable hotels in the area. They usually have certifications to prove they comply with sustainable standards. Acquiring certificates, however, is voluntary. A Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) accredited certifying body assesses and audits accommodations to see if they can be considered as sustainable.

Ask your lodging about their responsible tourism policy if they have any. If none, consider looking for another one. Their policy should include key aspects, like environmental, social, and local economic impacts (water, waste, and energy).

Plan your itinerary carefully

Happy tourists sightseeing city with map

Embrace a slower pace and cover one territory at a time when planning your itinerary. This helps you minimize the need to fly or drive from place to another. Live like a local while you’re in a certain place because you’ll learn their culture better.

Global warming is a growing problem caused by unhealthy human activities. It is slowly depleting the planet’s natural resources. And practicing responsible and ethical traveling is one way you can contribute to minimizing your impact on the environment.

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