How to Travel Green
Travel has enormous benefits: It broadens your horizons and the way you think about and understand the world, it boosts self-confidence, helps refine or develop skills, and travel creates life-long memories. However, travel can also have negative impacts on the environment and smaller communities.
Fortunately, there’s been a substantial rise in eco-travel, or sustainable travel, in recent years. According to Booking.com’s 2019 annual sustainable travel report, nearly three-quarters of respondents, 73% to be exact, intended to stay in eco-friendly or “green” accommodations at least once in the year ahead. The site’s study has seen this figure increase steadily each year since 2016. 72% of travelers also stated they believe people need to begin making more sustainable travel choices immediately in order to save the planet, but the same number of respondents said they don’t know how to make their travel more eco-friendly.
We’re here to say that green travel doesn’t need to be difficult and in fact, once it becomes second nature you will likely find it enjoyable and rewarding. It does take a bit of extra effort and planning, but sustainable travel can make your trip more meaningful and it has numerous environmental benefits as well.
It’s also worth noting that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many green and sustainable practices within the travel and hospitality industries simply cannot be followed as normal. For example, single-use plastics are being used heavily as there’s an increase in ordering takeout food and people are using public transportation and rideshares less frequently. In spite of this, there is still a great deal we can all do to lessen our environmental footprints. Of course, the safety of our Coast Hotels guests and ambassadors is always our top priority, but we remain committed to eco-friendly travel and green hotel practices – even in the face of the pandemic.
Planning your green travel
You can ensure your trip will be eco-friendly from the very beginning by choosing your destination carefully. Ethical Traveler, an independent non-profit organization, creates a list every year called The World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations. The countries are ranked using a process that allows Ethical Traveler “to select nations that are actively improving the state of their people, government, and environment. Our goal is to encourage behaviors that help create a safer and more sustainable world.” Using this list to plan your eco-friendly travel, which takes into account four main categories – environmental protection, social welfare, human rights, and animal welfare – you can decide on a destination where your tourism dollars spent directly support sustainable tourism.
Beyond the destination itself, you can choose to stay in an eco-friendly hotel to make your travel more sustainable. Use sites such as the U.S. Green Building Council or Green Key Global to help you find “certified green” hotels, meaning they “use renewable energy, recycle, use environmentally friendly cleaning products and offer options for guests to make an impact (such as not having the sheets changed daily).” Many Coast Hotels properties are “Green Key” certified with Green Key Global, but you may notice that other hotel brands use other terms or logos to indicate that they’re certified clean.
Once your destination and green hotel are finalized, keep the eco-friendly mindset when booking any guided tours or other tourist activities. When possible, select local guides and companies so that your money stays in the local economy and do some research to ensure they use ethical practices, respect the environment, give back to the local community, and/or use sustainable products.
Traveling green & eco-friendly
Travelers have a number of transportation options today, including air, train, and boat travel, or good ole’ fashioned driving. If you’re traveling a shorter distance, within eight or so hours from home, consider driving or taking a train. Not only is it often more affordable than air travel, it is also much less harsh on the environment.
Air travel is typically the most convenient transportation option, but it also has the largest environmental impact. In fact, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), planes account for 2.5% of the world’s total greenhouse emissions. Don’t worry though, we’re not saying you can’t fly anymore. The great news is that there are ways to make flying more environmentally friendly.
While flights that include layovers tend to be less expensive, they also put out far more emissions because they’re primarily released during takeoff and landing. Travelers can often also see flights’ emissions output when researching, so you have the ability to choose a flight with a smaller carbon footprint when possible.
When you arrive at your destination, forgo a rental car if you can manage it. Use public transportation, rent bikes, or simply walk between stops. It’s better for the environment, of course, but it’s also an excellent way to explore more of the city in a different way.
Dining out is one of the highlights of any trip. You can make it an even better experience by skipping the chain restaurants and instead opting for local “mom and pop” types of places. According to the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), 48% of every dollar spent at local, independent businesses stays in the local economy, compared to less than 14% of every dollar spent at a chain. Not only is eating local a wonderful way to support small businesses, but oftentimes these types of restaurants use locally-grown produce, dairy, and other ingredients, which further helps to reduce the carbon footprint.
Travelers can also think outside the (takeout) box and visit local farmer’s markets or see if there are any food trucks in the area. This is a great way to experience a destination like a local, which allows you to experience a community more authentically. The same goes for grocery shopping; instead of looking up the closest chain grocery store for trip snacks and drinks, find a local corner store, even if it’s not the most convenient option.
Coast Hotels take action to provide eco-friendly hotels
- Low-flow toilets and showers, plus energy-efficient lighting and appliances
- Botanical-based bathroom amenities in large-format containers
- Biodegradable cleaning supplies
- Products made from 100% recycled, chlorine-free paper
- A growing number of EV charging stations
On top of green practices during COVID-19, Coast Hotels will also be opting guests out of daily housekeeping and not allowing housekeepers into the rooms during a guests’ stay for the safety and peace of mind for both parties.
Leave no trace
No matter where you’re traveling or the method you use, do your best to leave the lightest footprint possible. Even simple steps such as opting out of daily housekeeping and turning off lights when you don’t need them can have a significant impact.