Want to travel more responsibly? Here’s how…
We all wanna travel more responsibly. And let’s be real, if we can’t collectively shape a greener, more responsible future for travel, then there simply won’t be a future for travel. That’s why we set out our 2025 11-point sustainability strategy (which we’re constantly checking ourselves against). But we know you’re all as passionate about this stuff as we are. So, in honour of World Tourism Day – and with a bit of help from our sustainability partners at TreadRight – we’ve put together a simple checklist so you can explore more responsibly next time you’re ready to hit the road.
1. Do your research
Sustainable travel can start long before your feet hit the tarmac and your shades slip out their case. Doing your research before you set off can slash your carbon footprint and ensure you set you off on your keenest, greenest foot. Not sure what we mean? Here are a few pointers:
- Choose travel companies committed to responsible travel (and who minimise their own footprint). It’s not just about ethical experiences or eco-friendly accom; try and choose brands who practise what they preach, too. (And we don’t wanna blow our own trumpets, but…)
- Opt for e-docs – don’t get stuff printed or mailed. There’s a reason Contiki have cut our printed brochures by 82%. Plus our digital brochures are interactive now. Ooooh.
- Think about travelling out of peak season – or to areas that are less popular/swamped. Trust us: it’s much easier to get that iconic snap of the Trevi Fountain when it isn’t July (and in many ways, Europe is cooler in winter). Also consider travelling to developing countries to support local communities who value your tourism $ more than, say, Rome. Not only do you support the people who live there, you also get to discover some seriously incredible hidden gems. Have you ever seen how beautiful Georgia in Europe is? Exactly.
- Fly direct! (Take off and landing are the most fuel-intensive parts of any flight).
- Consider airlines who are investing in sustainable aviation fuels. (Here’s a recent guide to give you a hand).
Scar from the Lion King had a point. Not about the need for a hyena military dictatorship per se, but more about the importance of being prepared. And this is definitely the case when it comes to responsible travel, especially when you’re at the packing stage. So, what’s in your bag? Here are a few tips for prepping more sustainably:
- Single-use is no use! Pack reusables, like your own water bottle (with a water filter depending on where you’re going), as well as things like reusable shopping/tote bags and cutlery if you’re camping.
- Pack light! (If the plane is heavier it emits more greenhouse gases).
- Bring toiletries in reusable bottles (and think about soap/shampoo bars rather than packaged alternatives).
- Learn local greetings and customs before you go! (And make sure you have appropriate clothing for holy sites and temples. Responsible travel ain’t just about carbon; it’s about respect, too).
Looking for more sustainable packing tips? Why not check out our awesome Alexa pack my bags skill? Just tell her where you’re going and she’ll build you a bespoke, sustainable packing list. Pretty neat right?
Tread right when travelling
You’ve done your research. You’ve got your trusty reusable water bottle in your bag. And now you’re finally on the road (lucky you). Here are some tips to make your trip as responsible as it is remarkable:
- Can’t avoid single-use plastics? We get it. But try and recycle them if you can.
- Shop local. Eat local. This helps support the communities you visit (so try and avoid that Maccies if possible, no matter how much you crave nugs at 2am).
- Buy locally made souvenirs, at a fair price (We’re not saying get ripped off, but take a step back if you’re trying to haggle someone down to a dollar in a developing nation).
- Don’t ride animals that shouldn’t be ridden: as a general rule: domesticated to be ridden (horses, camels etc. ) = generally cool in the correct environment with ethical measures in place. Otherwise = not cool).
- Research wildlife venues and make sure they adhere to wildlife welfare guidelines (the best elephants are happy elephants).
- Always honour local customs (And listen to the locals if you’re not sure. It’s the best way to properly immerse yourself in another culture).
- If possible, bike, train bus or hike.
- Farm-to-table meals are awesome. Visiting somewhere beautiful; meeting the growers of your food; tasting delicious local produce. They’re a great way to support the locals, eat sustainably and generally have an experience you’re unlikely to forget.
- Look for travel experiences that are owned by/employ underrepresented communities. (Like the Iraq Al Amir society in Jordan – these women are seriously inspirational!).
And when you get back home?
Share your top tips (and incredible experiences) with your mates and family, of course!