It’s something you look forward to for many months and something that will help you recharge before you commit to another year of non-stop work. When it’s finally time to head off on an extended holiday, the last thing you want to worry about is how your travel is going to impact the environment. If you want to find ways to make your adventures more sustainable, there are a few things you can try. Here are some straightforward tips for planning your eco-friendly European holiday.
Work With Responsible Companies
The first thing to consider when you’re planning your vacation to Europe is the kind of companies you want to work with for your travels. Look into the airline you want to fly with and the tour operators for your destination to see if they have sustainable practices listed on their websites such as funding carbon offsets and avoiding single-use plastics.
Every company is different. Some businesses make the environment a priority, and these businesses will make it easy to find out information about their sustainability goals.
Avoid Unnecessary Short-Haul Flights
One of the best ways to reduce your impact on the environment is to avoid taking unnecessary short-haul flights. This is a good thing to practice at every time of the year, not just when you’re traveling on vacation, but it’s not as easy to accomplish as you might think.
Europe is bursting with budget airlines that offer short-haul flights, and the fare prices for these journeys often rival train and bus tickets. Flights are shorter and more convenient, but their impact on the environment is enormous.
Air travel is one of the worst industries when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Compared to trains, planes produce far more emissions per passenger. When you take a train instead of a short-haul flight between cities, you are making the more eco-friendly choice.
Invest in Sustainable Travel Gear
If you want to maintain an eco-friendly profile as a traveler, invest in sustainable travel gear for your adventures. What you pack and use during your vacation does have an impact on the environment. Here are some ways you can pack with sustainability in mind:
- Bring foldable metal cutlery for on-the-go meals.
- Take a portable washing sack for cleaning underwear and socks.
- Use packaging-free toiletry items such as toothpaste tabs and a shampoo bar.
- Invest in high-quality, multi-purpose travel clothing that will last many years.
Stay at Eco-Friendly Hotels
The next step in being a friend to the environment when you travel is to stay at eco-friendly hotels. Rather than book the first option that comes up in your search results, take some time to discover which hotels actually care about their impact on the environment.
A good rule of thumb is to go with small businesses that are locally owned. Chain hotels often streamline their business models to maximize profits, and that leads to huge amounts of waste and emissions. In contrast, by staying at a small establishment with owners who are part of the community, you’re more likely to find people who understand the importance of a healthy planet. Small business owners value sustainability because they have to deal with the consequences of climate change and environmental pollution.
Tread Lightly in Nature
While you’re exploring all the wonders that Europe has to offer, remember to tread lightly in nature. Overtourism is a huge problem everywhere in the world. When there are too many tourists in one place, it can put a massive strain on natural resources and cause damage to the environment and wildlife. While it’s great to get off the beaten track and avoid the crowds, you have to be careful that you aren’t causing unintended damage to nature. Avoid making impulsive decisions about where to hike and camp when you’re traveling, and always listen to and respect the advice of the locals.
Traveling is not just fun, it’s transformative. Just make sure it’s you and not the environment that experiences the most significant impacts of your journey.