What Is Sustainable Tourism? Here’s A Complete Guide To Travel Green!

Here's to a fun and planet-friendly vacation!💚

Explore in this Article

  1. What Is Sustainable Tourism?
  2. Why Is Sustainable Travel Important Today?
  3. 8 Sustainable Travel Tips For Your Next Adventure
  4. 5 Sustainable Travel Essentials Everyone Should Have

How often have you been on a trip and promised yourself that you will have a more sustainable lifestyle when you return home? Well, maybe it would help if you knew what sustainable tourism was. We’ve been hearing about sustainable lifestyle and responsible tourism more frequently over the years, but what does it mean? And how can we travel more sustainably? So, in this article, let’s dig deeper and learn everything about sustainable tourism!

What Is Sustainable Tourism?

According to the UNWTO or United Nations World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism is – ‘Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities.’

What is sustainable tourism
Juan Mendez / Pexels

In other words, tourism is considered sustainable when it meets the needs of today without compromising the needs of generations to come. This definition emphasizes that sustainable tourism should leave minimal environmental, cultural and social impact; and it should be able to sustain the needs of future generations.

Today, it is no surprise that sustainable tourism is on the rise. This is pretty evident as many travelers now prefer responsible tourism. They choose to stay in eco-friendly hotels and resorts, do not use plastic water bottles, and even make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint by opting for greener modes of travel for their holiday. But, before we get to some sustainable travel tips and tricks, let’s quickly have a look at the reasons why sustainable tourism is important.

Why Is Sustainable Travel Important Today?

Importance of Sustainable Tourism
Dimitry Anikin / Pexels

Tourism is amongst the world’s largest industries. It has the potential to create positive change in communities by providing employment opportunities and funding for local projects. But not all tourism is created equal. Many tourist destinations experience negative impacts like pollution and congestion due to overtourism. Overtourism occurs when too many visitors crowd popular destinations, putting pressure on resources and harming the local community.

Responsible tourism can help preserve destinations for future generations by putting equality and fairness first, contributing to the protection of natural environments, and respecting cultures and human rights. In addition, sustainable tourism can positively impact people’s lives by creating opportunities for growth, education, and economic development in disadvantaged communities where there are few other options for employment.

sustainable tourism importance
Julius Silver / Pexels

As tourists, we can make a difference. We can try and look at the world through the eyes of our host culture, not just as a visitor and an outsider. Sustainable tourism is about taking responsibility for our actions as tourists, making conscious choices for the betterment of the local environment and community.

It’s not just about being aware that we’re having an impact on the places we visit, but also about making a positive impact while we’re there. As travelers, we can be part of the solution and can actually help sustain a destination by choosing responsible tourism.

8 Sustainable Travel Tips For Your Next Adventure

When we travel, we often leave behind our carbon footprint, usually through air travel and by using high amounts of water and electricity in hotels. By taking some simple steps, we can reduce our footprint when traveling. We can also have a positive impact on the local community by supporting small businesses and ensuring they benefit from your presence while we’re there.

Sustainable Tourism Tips
Porapak Apichodilok / Pexels

So, here are a few sustainable travel tips that will help you be a more conscious traveler on your next adventure.

1. Do Your Research

Research a place before you visit and find out what it’s like, to know what you should expect. Make efforts to learn about the places you’re visiting before you go. Read up on their history, religion, and current political situation. Learn the dos and don’ts of the country. Be mindful of how you dress or behave as it can offend people – or even break the law, in some places.

If you can, learn a few words in the local language. It will help you plan your trip and make the most of your time there. All this will make your trip an excellent opportunity to familiarise yourself with the culture, customs, and traditions of the place you plan to visit.

2. Don’t Overpack

Sustainable Tourism - Don't Overpack
Vlada Karpovich / Pexels

Pack only what you need for your holiday. It’s tempting to pack all your things ‘just in case,’ but resist the urge! Overpacking creates unnecessary waste and is one of the easiest ways to reduce your environmental impact when you travel. The lighter the luggage, the easier it is on everyone.

In addition, it reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on planes and trains. This is one way to reduce your carbon footprint. This also makes your life easier while traveling, as you won’t have to drag around a heavy suitcase or backpack every day!

Did you know, your bags and carry-ons can be sustainably-made too? Check out our favorite options for sustainable bags here!

3. Find A Sustainable Travel Agent

Look for a sustainable tour operator or travel agent to help you achieve your sustainable travel goals. The criteria for ‘sustainable’ may vary from agency to agency. But in general, the goal of a sustainable travel agent should be to help you enjoy your vacation, without harming either the environment or the local culture.

It can be hard to know just by reading their websites. Look for certifications that prove these platforms are suitable for people who are committed to a sustainable lifestyle like Green Globe or Travelife. You can also consider using online platforms that support sustainability like Green Pearls, Responsible Travel, and Kynder.

4. Skip The Mundane; Check Out Offbeat Places

Sustainable Tourism - Travel to offbeat places
Flo Maderebner / Pexels

Skip the crowded tourist destinations. Instead, explore new offbeat locations like a small town in the mountains or a lesser-known beach to help these places grow. Usually, such areas are heavily dependent on tourism for money. Spreading tourism across other sites helps them develop and thrive, without spoiling the natural beauty that attracts tourists in the first place.

If you still want to visit a specific destination, avoid traveling during the peak season when tourists descend in hordes on popular destinations. This helps prevent overcrowding at tourist destinations which contributes to environmental degradation and damage to infrastructure.

5. Choose An Eco-Friendly Stay

Several hotels worldwide make efforts to reduce their carbon footprint by using solar power for electricity or recycling water for use in gardens and other areas of the property. These places are often your best option, as they’re sincerely dedicated to good green practices. Before booking your stay, check for the hotel’s green policies.

These eco-friendly establishments carefully manage their waste, water, and energy consumption. Some places even go the extra mile to create gardens and other facilities using sustainable methods. This way, you can support the property and your own sustainable travel goals by choosing green accommodation.

6. Stay, Shop & Eat Local

Sustainable Tourism - Stay, shop and eat local
Mark Dalton / Pexels

Instead of booking out-of-town hotel chains, consider staying at locally owned hotels and inns. These businesses offer excellent hospitality and usually only hire local employees. When you stay locally, you support the local economy and get access to the best restaurants in town, because they’ll be the ones frequented by locals themselves.

Sometimes these local hotels and inns also offer opportunities to visit markets, shops, and other attractions that are more intimate to the area, where you can indulge in the local delicacies, shopping, and activities offered by the place. All of this gives you a chance to witness the destination in its raw and unadulterated state, which is by far the best way to experience any new place.

7. Use Public Transport And Explore On Foot

When planning your travel itinerary, consider ways to use public transportation. For example, if you’re visiting a big city, leave your car at home. Take public transport and walk around to explore new places instead. This is not only better for the environment, but it’s also much more convenient than finding places to park and dealing with traffic!

Opt for buses, trains, and even ferries when visiting an island destination. The less time spent in a car or taxi, the better it is for the planet (and your wallet). You can even take buses and trains instead of flights to travel between nearby destinations. This way, you can enjoy scenic views on the roads and reduce your overall carbon footprint while you travel.

8. Avoid Single Use Plastic

Sustainable Tourism - Reusable Lifestraw Go Bottle
Lifestraw / Instagram

The last one of the sustainable travel tips is to skip single-use plastic products, like straws or carry bags, and especially bottled water. Pack a reusable water bottle and fill it up with filtered water at your hotel or hostel each day. You can also refill it at restaurants throughout the day if needed (and save money!) Check out some of our favorite eco-friendly water bottles right here!

Water filters are an easy way to treat tap water if you’re unsure about the water source while traveling. This also helps protect local ecosystems from plastic waste. Plastic water bottles are a huge source of waste in our world today, so please avoid them as far as possible!

5 Sustainable Travel Essentials Everyone Should Have

If you’re a keen traveler, chances are you’ve often left on your travels with a huge rucksack full of items. But, most of these essentials are usually not so planet-friendly. Hence, we have compiled a list of 5 sustainable travel or sustainable lifestyle essentials that you can swap for the conventional items in your backpack!

1. Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Sustainable Travel Essentials - S'well Water Bottle
Swell Bottle / Instagram

Start with the single-use plastic water bottle. Swap it with this S’well stainless steel water bottle. The brand is highly recommended for travel-friendly reusable water bottles. These bottles are designed to keep beverages cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. S’well bottles are toxin-free & BPA-free. The standard size 500ml water bottle can be your perfect buddy to keep you hydrated during your travel. 

2. UV Water Sterilizer

Sustainable Travel Essentials - Steripen
Steripen / Instagram

Using a reusable bottle means you have to refill tap water again and again, which we all know isn’t safe. But don’t worry, SteriPen has got you covered. SteriPen uses UV light to kill germs and destroys over 99.9% of bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Its battery sustains up to 50 treatments per charge and 300 charge-discharge cycles. This equals 15,000 liters. For a conscious traveler, this is a must-have sustainable lifestyle essential.

3. Bamboo Toothbrush

Sustainable Travel Essentials - Bamboo Toothbrush
Nuduko / Amazon

What is a great alternative to plastic toothbrushes? A bamboo toothbrush. These bamboo toothbrushes are BPA-free and have medium-soft bristles. One pack contains 10 Bamboo toothbrushes that are infused with charcoal which is known to clean better than a regular toothbrush.

You can check out our article ‘How bamboo toothbrushes are better than plastic ones? to know more.

4. Eco-Friendly All-In-One Body Bar

Sustainable Travel Essentials - All in one soap bar
Bravo Sierra / Amazon

How can we not include body bars in our list? Bravo Sierra’s hair & body solid cleanser is an all-in-one body bar and solid shampoo. This bar saves you from the hassle of buying different bars for your skin and hair. The solid shampoo is formulated without sulfate or any drying agents. And offers a rich lather when used. With one bar lasting 30-40 showers, that can be added to your light packing, it is your perfect travel companion. 

5. Plastic-Free Menstrual Products

Sustainable Travel Essentials - Organicup
Allmatters / Instagram

Periods are a bloody nightmare for you and the environment too. But plastic-free menstrual products can help you have the safest and greenest periods. Even if you are traveling. OrganiCup is here to the rescue. Menstrual cups can be used for 12 hours at a stretch, until you clean and reuse them. That saves a lot of tampon waste and the need to change it over and over again. 

We hope this article helps you become more aware of the importance of sustainable tourism, and most importantly, encourages you to make minor adjustments in your own life. All it takes is a little research and planning ahead of time. So, you can make the most of your trip and leave a positive imprint on the places you visit.

We believe that sustainable tourism can be a game-changer for the environment and the communities that we travel to. Of course, it’s not as easy to achieve as it sounds. It won’t happen overnight. But, by educating yourself and others on what we should do to help preserve our planet’s resources, we can have a more significant impact and help make sustainable tourism a reality.

Here’s to traveling more consciously! 💚

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