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What can I do when I travel

What can I do when I travel for holiday or work?

In the recent years, the travel industry is the fastest growing industry in the world. There are about 1 billion international arrivals worldwide according to the World Tourism Organization. And, each arrival leaves its footprint behind. While traveling for business or pleasure try to minimize your impact on the environment.

Whether you are traveling to work, a conference, important meeting, island retreat or an amusement park, or even volunteer work and education, you can be conscious of your impact on the environment. Here are some green traveling tips to help you have a fun and eco-friendly trip.

Planning Your Trip:

  • Look for hotel accommodations and tours that carry environmental friendly certifications or memberships in green industry associations – such as Green Seal or Green Leaf. Several organizations have developed standards to measure the environmental initiatives of hotels and tours. Standards vary depending on the organization; however, green hotels and tours include reducing energy consumption through fluorescent lighting, instituting recycling programs, conserving water either through installation of energy star products or by asking patrons to reuse towels and by purchasing local organic foods. When hotels and tours meet these standards, they are certified as “green.”
  • Select a hotel close to public transportation or near the places you are going to visit during your stay.
  • When flying, book electronic tickets. It reduces paper waste and you are less likely to lose your ticket.

Before You Go:

  • Pull the plug on any unnecessary appliances – such TVs, VCRs, stereos, toasters, and microwaves. These items can still use energy in their off mode.
  • Set your thermostat and water heater at low settings so that energy isn’t wasted while you are gone.
  • Stop your newspaper or donate the paper to a school while you are gone.

When You’re There:

  • If the hotel has an environmental program, participate as much as possible. If you have any questions about how, simply ask when you check in.
  • Never leave lights on when you are not in the room.
  • Lower the thermostat when you leave the room for long periods of time.
  • If your destination is a warm climate then close the drapes. Or, if you have Venetian blinds, angle them up to bounce the sunlight off the ceiling. This will keep the room cooler. Conversely, let the sun warm up your room during the day if you are in a cooler climate.
  • Leave unopened shampoo, soap, and other items in the hotel unless you are taking it home to use.
  • Avoid room service and carry-out which increase waste.
  • Use water sparingly. In some places this is a very scarce resource.
  • Never buy items made from endangered species.
  • Walk or use public transportation.
  • Grab only the maps and brochures that you will actually use. If in a large group, share brochures whenever possible.
  • Take pictures and leave the location as you found it. Never remove wildlife from it’s natural environment including shells, flowers and coral.
  • When hiking or camping, stay only in marked areas to avoid destroying vegetation.
  • Buy locally produced produce in order to reduce the pollution required to import goods.

When You Come Home:

Write a letter or email to your hotel or tour guide telling them that you appreciate their efforts to minimize the impact on the environment. This will encourage them to promote and institute more environmentally friendly activities.

Volunteer travel defined

Volunteer travelvolunteer vacations or voluntourism is travel which includes volunteering for a charitable cause. In recent years, “bite-sized” volunteer vacations have grown in popularity.Volunteer vacations vary widely in scope, from low-skill work cleaning up local wildlife areas to providing high-skill medical aid in a foreign country. Volunteer vacations participants are diverse but typically share a desire to “do something good” while also experiencing new places and challenges in locales they might not otherwise visit.

There are also other types of traveling that engage people with scientific research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. Participants cover a fee that would include expenses on the different sites worldwide, and engage in projects according to their interest or location.

Reducing your travel footprint

Undeniably, each arrival has an environmental cost. You’ve probably heard that old adage “Take only pictures, leave only footprints” – what can you do to have a positive impact and reduce your travel footprint? Eco Volunteer Travel’s eco-friendly travel tips can help. Some steps are small; others require a bit more planning, but they can all make a difference—especially if we do them together.

Pack your environmental ethics

Even the most environmentally conscious consumers tend to leave their green routines at home. In fact, the majority of travellers ignore their usual eco-friendly habits, such as using less water and turning off the lights, while on the road. Most people aren’t as concerned about the planet when they’re travelling—80 percent have never taken an eco-friendly vacation. When you’re out and about, try to keep up the good habits you have at home.

Stay at eco-friendly lodging or an ‘EcoHomeStay’

When booking your trip, support environmentally conscious hospitality management by choosing accommodation with eco-friendly certifications or memberships in green industry associations.

Highly regarded green lodging certification programs include Green Globe, Green Seal, and the Sustainable Tourism Education Program (STEP). To find more credible eco-label and certification programs worldwide, check out non-profit Sustainable Travel International’s handy overview.

One organisation in India at the forefront of sustainable tourism is ‘EcoHomeStaysIndia’. It advances in energy management, water conservation and community outreach with basic facilities compensating for hotel luxuries.

Can’t book eco-certified accommodation? Look for comfortable yet basic options. Smaller rooms with fewer amenities use less resources, and newer hotels are likely more energy-efficient.

Choose a responsible tour provider

Ten years after the UN declared 2002 the International Year of Ecotourism, it’s never been easier to book eco-conscious trips. All over the world, there are tour companies with sustainability in mind. Read how to evaluate responsible tour companies or see a checklist of important questions to ask when booking travel. If you’re looking to explore, enjoy and protect the planet, we recommend Natural Habitat Adventures, the official conservation travel partner for the World Wildlife Fund and a leader in responsible nature travel for more than 25 years (even better—it’s the world’s first 100-percent carbon-neutral travel company). We also love G Adventures, who integrate sustainability into every decision they make while offering unforgettable small-group adventures, averaging just 10 to 15 travellers per trip. In 2003, they started the Planeterra Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development and support of small communities around the globe, and offer a wealth of information for the conscientious traveller, such as these sustainable travel tips. Other outdoor adventure experts committed to responsible travel are listed in the directories of the International Ecotourism Society and Sustainable Travel International.

Give back through donations or Volunteer Work

Make a positive impact on the community or destination you visit by giving back—donate or volunteer with a local environmental organization or pitch in at a roadside cleanup, for example. Or combine your love of travel with philanthropy by taking part in the growing “voluntourism” movement. Imagine contributing—in a very tangible way—to conservation efforts. We promise you’ll gain new perspective and make the world a better place.

Choose green transportation

Reduce your dependence on travel options that incur large carbon footprints. Not surprisingly, air travel is the worst offender, accounting for four to nine percent of the total climate change impact of human activity. According to Sustainable Travel International’s carbon calculator, a round-trip economy-class flight from Toronto to Delhi generates carbon dioxide emissions of over four tons per person! Seek other methods of transportation when possible—trains and buses are far more energy-efficient. If you must fly, take the most direct route, and check out Greenopia’s airline ratings. Kudos to Costa Rica-based Nature Air, the first airline to offset 100 percent of its carbon emissions.

Plan ahead and come up with creative, car-less ways to explore an area. The planet (and your wallet) will thank you. Check Google Transit to see your options (bus, subway, streetcar, water taxi, etc.). And there’s no better way to get to know an area than by walking or cycling—look for bike-share programs. If you must rent a vehicle, look for car-sharing services or choose a hybrid or fuel-efficient car.

To further reduce your trip’s emissions, you can buy carbon offsets. Visit Sustainable Travel International to learn about this innovative idea, calculate your carbon footprint and purchase offsets.

Have a “staycation”

Take a vacation where you live! A “staycation” is not only kind to your finances and the planet, but also less stressful than going abroad. Support your local economy while enjoying all the things in your city that you’re usually too busy to appreciate. Visit parks, museums, festivals and neighbourhoods you’ve never explored. Find a green event. If possible, ditch the car and walk, take public transit or ride a bike.

Use your staycation to (literally) get a taste of where you live. Try local cuisine, visit a farmers’ market or tour a farm. Learn more about your region’s specialties and embark on culinary adventures.

Slow down and spend time with nature. Visit parks or green spaces. Take your family to the beach or lake. No matter where you go, tread lightly. For tips on enjoying the great outdoors responsibly, visit our resources or write to us.

Every action helps. With almost a billion tourists on the move each year, it’s more important than ever for travellers to minimize their environmental impact. Protect the places you visit and live in—not only for yourself, but for future generations of explorers.

We always love to hear from you. Are you planning an eco-conscious vacation or travel, or do you have eco travel tips to share? E-mail us at – info@ecovolunteertravel.com

Responsible travel

Responsible travel is the cornerstone of Eco Volunteer travel.  Responsible travel means that the individuals, organisations and businesses we are associated with follow ethical cultural and environmental sensitivity, ensuring that your adventure is environmentally, culturally and socially sustainable.

We minimise the negative impacts of travel and maximise the benefits to the regions we travel through. It is implemented on our trips through the following features:

  • We are committed to improving social and environmental development in the communities and regions we visit by conducting environmental and social volunteer activities.
  • Small groups and customised trips allow travelers to experience cultures first hand, offering greater opportunity for cross- cultural understanding and exchange.
  • We promote global citizenship by improving cultural understanding and encouraging engagement in development issues
  • We utilise local communities as much as possible; we employ local guides to aid travellers understanding of local culture and etiquette.
  • We use locally owned services and local products where possible, to ensure revenue is retained in local communities.
  • We employ services with minimal impact to the environment, such as travelling via local public transport where possible to minimises demand for special tourist vehicles and fuel.

We find that travelling responsibly actually enriches the experience for our clients as they get to have more authentic interactions with locals and get a true feel for the region they are visiting. And they feel great about trips that are engaged in a positive way with the community.