Most of us have now started to consider our impact on the environment in our day-to-day lives, but when it comes to responsible travel it’s often easy to overlook the carbon footprint we leave behind.
After all, booking a flight, hotel or holiday activity is supposed to be a breezy escape from reality or a chance to unwind, not a lesson in responsible tourism, right? Well, not quite.
Conscious travellers and tourism operators alike have started shifting their awareness towards responsible travel as a means of minimising their impact. If you’re wondering how you can reduce your carbon footprint, we’ve put together a responsible travel guide to help you travel more mindfully on your next holiday.
If you want to go one better than flying, be a part of the slow travel movement and take train. Australia has an expansive rail network, especially considering the sheer size of the mainland, and some pretty amazing rail experiences on offer. Consider the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth, The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin, or for a totally unique experience the Q Rail, Australia’s premier rail restaurant.
Flying is responsible for a big chunk of global carbon emissions from tourism, but both Qantas and Virgin Australia offer the option to make your flight carbon neutral by making a small contribution to their carbon offset programs. They are both also experimenting with sustainable aviation fuels (or bio fuels) and working towards significantly reducing single use plastics on board their flights. This is great news if you love to fly but hate the guilt of a big carbon footprint.
Cycling is great option once you have reached your destination. Most Australian capital cities and major regional centres offer bike share services, with some even offering electric bike share services such as Lime down the east coast and Bykko in Newcastle. And if you love your wine, ‘wine not’ try a cycle tour of one of Australia’s many top-notch wine regions, like those offered by Tour de Vines.
When heading out and about on your holidays, consider walking – it is a great way to explore a new city and take in all the unfamiliar sights and sounds.
When choosing a sustainable hotel, you will need to do your research as there is no universal green rating system. Green Getaways is a great resource for narrowing down the selection though, featuring Australian hotels making a genuine effort to minimise their environmental impact.
Read more: 6 Stunning Green-Hotels You Need To Visit
Alternatively, you could ditch the hotel and choose a home share, home stay or vacation rental. These tend to be more eco-friendly options than hotels. Check out Riparide for some great adventure accommodation options and the ever reliable AirBnb and their selection of eco stays.
By choosing low-packaging options, not only are you reducing the amount of potential waste but also stealing back space from those half-empty, bulky containers we often carry on holiday.
Instead of travelling with mini bottles of your favourite toiletries, why not dabble with some plastic free items like a shampoo bar from Shampoo with A Purpose, a body bar from the Australian Natural Soap Co. or this no nasties Savant Apothecary zinc sunscreen.
Disposable cups and plastic water bottles are the two largest contributors to litter and landfill, while plastic straws are wreaking havoc on our global waterways. Do your bit for the environment and whenever you travel, pack a keep cup and reusable water bottle and a bamboo cutlery roll.
Always travel with your day-to-day reusable items – bag, cup, bottle etc. There are some great compact, lightweight options available on the market, that are ideal for travelling with like an Onya reusable tote, a Stojo collapsible coffee cup or a Crumple eco water bottle.
Ideally, the goal of responsible travel is to be able to refuse any disposable plastics during your trip. If you use straws, purchase some environmentally-friendly alternatives. I love Biome because they offer a range of bamboo, steel, glass and silicone alternatives.
Culture and people
With growing popularity, some of Australia’s natural wonders are experiencing deterioration. When you are out exploring, do your best to preserve the original beauty of the local environment – always stick to the path, obey the signs and take your rubbish away with you.
You could also consider making a donation to local conservation efforts, like this one for the Great Barrier Reef.
One of the greatest joys of responsible travel is immersing yourself in the local culture of each destination you visit. A great way to do this is to seek out indigenous guides – by engaging with them, you are helping to preserve their traditions and often they have amazing stories to tell from a different perspective.
Need more inspiration?
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