More than half of global travelers say that they are willing to make more sustainable travel choices than a year ago. However, certain barriers like lack of knowledge, and the overwhelming amount of options to choose from can hinder a person from fully committing. With modern advancements in sustainable travel, these barriers are becoming easier to overcome. Companies are continuously becoming more aware of the growing trends in eco-travel, and therefore, the choices at your disposal are also becoming more widely available. This article will highlight what you should expect in your future travels with the current state of sustainable tourism.
If you’re still worried about your ability to be completely carbon-free on your trip, a carbon capture program can also help you mitigate that carbon footprint to zero depending on how much you’re willing to pay. However, we all know just how expensive travel can get. That’s why it might just be best to do what you can, when you can, and with the future of sustainable travel, that will become easier than ever.
The Future of Flying and Alt-Travel
Airplanes have a bad rap in the sustainable travel community. Ground travel has historically been the cleaner option, but the convenience of travel times has made air travel a very popular option. Airline companies will need to adapt to changing trends and offer greener solutions to the inconvenience of ground traveling times.
For example, electric airplanes are becoming more available since their Paris debut in June 2019. Eplanes, as they’re called, can cost around $8 per 100 miles or even lower if it can generate its own energy through means of solar or wind power. Compare that to the $400 per 100 miles that traditional airplanes cost and it becomes a no brainer.
Future improvements to ground travel may not only make it more sustainable than it already is, but it could also become closer to rivaling air-travel in terms of speed. High speed rail lines can generally travel at around 160 miles an hour. One rail service in Europe, the TGV, can even get you from London to Paris in 2 hours and 15 minutes. While it may sound like something out of science fiction, but orbital rings are quickly becoming a reality. In essence, these man-made rings around the planet would not only reduce the cost and fuel needed to travel from country to country, but it could open up the option for affordable travel to space.
Although it may be the consumers’ responsibility to keep their individual travels eco-friendly, businesses should take it upon themselves to provide more green options. Although resorts like Proximity Hotel in North Carolina and cruise lines like Virgin Voyages are leading the way in terms of sustainability, many other companies still have a ways to go to become fully sustainable. When booking, be wary of greenwashing efforts; essentially, companies attempt to trick you into thinking they are more sustainable than they really are by using strategies like overusing certain keywords or phrases, or even a simple green color scheme.
Eco-friendly certifications (such as LEED) are also becoming paramount for businesses to “prove” just how sustainably they operate. Self-certifications are quickly becoming obsolete as these businesses can simply create their own standards, instead of following a common standard. Proper waste and recycling systems are quite important, so be sure to do your research and only support those companies who have truly made the commitment to sustainability.
If you’re looking for something less stereotypical for a vacation, things like Air b&bs and hostels are quickly becoming go-to choices for younger travelers. Instead of supporting large corporations, you could instead stay with smaller businesses or individuals. Try shopping for food at local markets or grocery stores and cook them in the kitchen of the place you are staying.
It will not only save you a bit of money, but it can save the environment by reducing the number of food miles used. With the increasingly large impact, modern food consumption has on the planet with things like packaging, un-sustainable farming, and food waste, it would be beneficial to look to changes in your consumption habits while traveling.
When you finally book and start thinking about your itinerary, at first you may be overwhelmed by all the options for activities. Be aware of which activities can be harmful to the environment, and do your best to avoid planning those activities. There are still tons of options like foot or bike tours, patronizing local shops, or maybe even an international bar hop.
As different countries start to modernize, these options will only grow. With that being said, prepare for less exclusivity than you might be used to with traditional vacations. With the growing popularity and availability of travel, “luxury” and “exclusive” destinations will become more populated. Instead, you may want to consider opting to go off the beaten path and stay in an area less affected by over-tourism.
As technologies continue to improve, your options for clean, individual transport will become more widely available. Until then, opting for local or non-motorized transportation such as buses, rail lines, biking, or even walking are better options than a personal uber or taxi. If you wish to make a positive, impactful contribution, rather than simply lessening the negatives, maybe you should consider volunteer tourism.
Or, with the growing trend of “instant gratification,” donating might just be the better (and easier) option. Just be aware that donating gifts to individuals may create a sense of dependence, so you may just want to donate to a reputable organization in the area.
Overall, the modernizing of eco-travel is helping to make vacationing sustainably easier, cheaper, and faster. Consumers want more green options, and with that, companies and airlines are offering more options. Hopefully, within the next few years, it gets to the point where green travel becomes less of a novelty and more of a standard.