What is sustainable travel? Traveling sustainably means being aware of the impact of tourism on the environment and adopting good practices to reduce the negative effects.

Planet Earth has limited resources and mass tourism puts their existence at risk. Therefore, sustainable travel is a way to preserve nature, instead of commodifying it to attract tourists.

What is sustainable travel?

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), sustainable tourism is defined as:

“Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”

The term sustainable travel refers to the adoption of sustainable practices with the aim of minimizing the negative impacts and maximizing the positive effects of tourism.

Sustainable Travel: 8 Best Practices

Let’s find out 8 easy ways to travel eco-friendly:

1. Staying in eco-friendly accommodations

Staying in eco-friendly accommodations reduces the impact of tourism on the environment. From renewable energy production to bio-architecture, eco-friendly lodgings focus on preserving the environment and have positive environmental effects. However, this is not all. Staying in eco-friendly tourism accommodations also supports the local economy. In fact, most environmentally friendly lodgings offer zero-kilometer, organic food.

In this regard, Ecobnb is a platform that allows travelers to find and book sustainable tourism accommodations. Our properties meet at least 5 of the 10 sustainability criteria listed below.

10 criteria for assessing environmental sustainability of Ecobnb's tourism accommodations
10 criteria for assessing the environmental sustainability of Ecobnb’s tourism accommodations

Additionally, engaging with these accommodations often introduces travelers to essential travel vocabulary related to sustainability and eco-friendly practices, enhancing their awareness and ability to make informed choices during their journeys.

2. Making optimal use of environmental resources

Making optimal use of environmental resources preserves natural heritage and biodiversity. The main problem is that the consumption of environmental resources exceeds their ability to regenerate, causing climate change and loss of biodiversity.

In this regard, the ecological footprint is an indicator capable of measuring the environmental impact created by the excessive use of natural resources.

 graph of the ecological footprint of several countries
graph of the ecological footprint of several countries

3. Taking public transportation

Taking public transportation reduces air pollution and improves road congestion. By using public transport, the number of cars on the roads decreases and less carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Likewise, fewer vehicles reduce traffic jams on the roads.

comparison between C02 emissions of different modes of transportation
C02 emissions of different modes of transportation (source: sustainabletravel.org)

4. Respecting the culture of local communities

Respecting the culture of local communities conserves cultural and artistic heritage. The interaction with locals is one of the most rewarding things of sustainable travel and preserves traditions passed down from generation to generation. It is essential to respect traditions as they form the identity of the local community and create a sense of unity among people.

man proud of his culture smiles and waves his hand
(Photo via Canva Pro)

5. Buying from and supporting local businesses

Buying from and supporting local businesses empowers the local economy. But this is not all. Local products do not involve transportation, require less packaging, and create more jobs.

shop selling local products
Buying local products not only strengthens the local economy, but also preserves the environment (Photo by Michelle Raponi, via Pixabay)

6. Traveling slow

Traveling slow minimizes the impact on the environment and saves money. For instance, choosing the train over other means of transportation both reduces the ecological impact and is a cheaper option. But this is not all. Traveling slow also allows you to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Travelling by train is more sustainable
Travelling by train allows you to discover landscapes that remain unknown to those who take the plane (Photo by Hari Panicker, via Unsplash)

7. Saying NO to single-use plastic

Saying NO to single-use plastic reduces pollution. The production of plastic uses fossil fuels and therefore releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. In addition, 8 million tons of plastic end up in oceans every year (source: National Geographic) putting marine life at risk.

turtle swimming between plastic
The plastic that ends up in oceans puts animals at risk (Photo via Canva Pro)

8. Eating local food

Eating local food ensures freshness and benefits local businesses. In fact, locally produced food does not require transportation, so it is fresh and nutritious. Furthermore, eating local products supports the local economy and contributes to increasing employment and income within a community (tourism multiplier effect).

local organic shop
Eating local products: a good practice for a sustainable travel (Photo by NeONBRAND, via Unsplash)

Infographic: what is sustainable travel?

To conclude, the following infographic summarizes the 8 good practices to adopt for your next sustainable travel.

infographic "what is sustainable travel?": 8 good practices to adopt for your next sustainable travel

Cover image via Canva Pro

Author: Stefania Angeli

Hi! My name is Stefania, and I’m a student of the degree course in “International Tourism and Leisure Industries” at the University of Bologna. My passion for traveling was sparkled by study trips and hiking in Trentino, where I was born and raised. Moreover, living in the US for one year has brought me closer to environmental sustainability issues, that were dear to my host family. My favorite travel? Interrail in Scandinavia, because it doesn’t take much to spend a memorable trip and contribute to the protection of the environment that surrounds us!
More posts by Stefania Angeli →

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