With COVID vaccines making it possible to start traveling again, travelers around the world are packing their suitcases to visit new places and reconnect with the people they love.
Pre-pandemic, the environmental impacts of travel and over-tourism were taking a significant toll on beautiful destinations around the world. As travel rebounds, travelers and businesses in the travel and tourism industries can ensure their choices minimize their environmental footprint while maximizing positive local impact.
For example, Hilton’s Travel with Purpose commitment demonstrates the company’s choice to double its social impact efforts and cut its environmental footprint in half by 2030. By investing in local communities through the Hilton Effect Foundation and taking critical steps to reduce the environmental impact of its hotels and supply chain, Hilton, and organizations like it, are spearheading change.
In addition to supporting organizations that are making a conscious effort to protect the environment, you can make a difference when traveling. Consider these five easy steps when hitting the road, jumping on that next flight or exploring the unbeaten path.
1. Don’t forget your reusables
Many hotels, airports and destinations offer water stations to fill up your reusable water bottle. By taking advantage of these free resources instead of purchasing single-use bottles, you’ll save money and help preserve the environment at the same time. Bringing a reusable bag, utensils and straw can also help you reduce single-use plastic waste from to-go food items.
2. Go mobile
From downloading your boarding pass, electronically checking in to your hotel room or receiving a paperless hotel folio, a contactless experience is preferred by many people. Many hotels also offer contactless checkout, enabling you to receive your electronic receipt and be on your way with zero waste involved.
3. Keep your eye out for recycling
Refrain from discarding waste in the first receptacle you see and check to see if there’s a recycling bin nearby. Often, waste containers are split and offer several places to deposit items, so make sure trash goes into the appropriate slot and recycling or compost into their designated areas. Every recycled item helps prevent waste from entering oceans and landfills.
4. Buy local and shop small
The best way to support—and get to know—a city or community is to contribute directly to the local economy. Experience local, family-owned restaurants, shop at small businesses and hire local tour guides to learn about a community’s history and culture. If you’re not sure where to find the best local places, ask the hotel staff, who are typically locals themselves.
5. Opt for alternative wheels
You can take steps to reduce your carbon footprint from transportation, such as taking a direct flight or renting an electric vehicle. When you arrive, consider using alternative modes of transportation, such as walking, cycling or public transportation to explore your destination. Many cities now offer bike rentals. Hotel staff can recommend local walking and running routes, offering you a fun perspective and way to experience a new location.
Traveling is an important part of who we are. As you dream about your future trips, you can satisfy your wanderlust without sacrificing the environment. These five simple, Mother Nature-approved steps will help you travel more sustainably wherever you next decide to explore.