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Traveling to different destinations around the world is one of the best ways to open your heart and mind to the wonders of our home planet. Visiting different cultures and natural sites is fascinating and life-altering. However, travel may also have a detrimental impact on the very environment you want to preserve. This doesn’t mean you should stay home. It means you should practice eco-friendly travel. Here are five tips to consider the next time you want to travel and still be eco-friendly.
Choose a Responsible Tour Company
Some tour companies advertise being eco-friendly, but they really aren’t. This is called greenwashing. A truly eco-friendly company will put the local community in the destination first. This is how their visitors can make a positive impact. These travel businesses usually work with local NGOs to be sure their programs fit with the well-being of the locality. You can look for certification from such organizations as the Global Sustainable Tourism Council or the Center for Responsible Travel.
Some tour companies offer eco-friendly tours to the most desirable destinations. Before selecting one, ask what their policies are that make the tour eco-friendly. If it’s just greenwashing, it won’t reduce your carbon footprint and you should choose another.
Choose Never to Buy Bottled Water
Buying bottled water is one of the most important things to avoid when traveling anywhere. Most cities have potable tap water. You can carry a refillable water bottle and a water purifier if necessary.
For example, when camping or glamping in Pennsylvania, you will find potable water everywhere. If you have a doubt, use your portable water filter. Pennsylvania and many other places commit to Earth-friendly policies and practices. When making travel plans, it’s worth looking online for the environmental policies of your destination such as potable drinking water and recycling.
Choose to Stay Longer
It is a well-known tip from people who travel full-time that remaining in one place reduces waste and is more sustainable. If you are planning a multi-destination trip, you may want to reduce your stops and stay longer in the places you like the best. You will have more time to see the sights and join in local life.
Before choosing a destination where you will spend a lot of time, travel experts urge you to avoid endangered places that tour companies advertise to see before it’s gone. If an area is endangered - such as a small island or ancient historical site - you can help by not visiting.
Whatever your destination, you can reduce your carbon footprint by living like a local. If you cook for yourself, check out farmers' markets where you can get fresh, seasonal ingredients. When enjoying beer or wine, rather than sticking to your favorite brand try craft beers locally brewed and wine from the locality if they exist. This advice is especially useful if your destination is an eco-friendly one. You can check the Global Green Economy Index to learn about the sustainable practices of 50 cities around the world and 80 countries.
You don’t need to rely on ranking alone. Other signs that a city embraces green practices are many parks and green spaces, pedestrian shopping and dining areas, bike lanes, farmers' markets, and a good public transportation system.
Find Public Transportation
Finally, choose local, public transportation whenever possible. Most large cities that receive a lot of tourists every year have free shuttles and easy bus service to visit many of the main attractions. Before you leave home, you can look online at your destination city’s local transit maps. You will find several fare options such as one-day pass, multi-day pass or other options.
Every city is different. In some places, bicycles are available for rent in strategic places around the city. If you aren’t staying close to public transportation, at least find out the shortest distance and cheapest way to a train, bus or trolley station.
There is no 100 percent carbon-neutral travel option. However, you can make your trip almost carbon neutral by purchasing carbon offsets. These options can be found at carbonfund.org and other legitimate sites online. With these five eco-friendly travel tips, you can rest assured you are not contributing to greenhouse gasses and have a great time.
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