Winter is a popular time for many Canadians to head for white sand beaches and palm trees. However vacations can have harmful impacts on the environment, local economies, and cultures. But travel can be more than simply visiting scenic areas, buying souvenirs, and taking pictures. When done right, vacation can be an opportunity for positive change, and inspire cultural awareness and renew commitment to the environment.
Becoming an eco-tourist is easier than you may think. Exploring alternate travel options will help you have a unique trip and make a positive impact on the people and places you visit.
Selecting a Destination
If possible, select a destination closer to home to minimize carbon emissions caused by transport. There are many eco-tour companies throughout the entire world, but it is important to research the eco-friendly practices of each before making a decision. The International Ecotourism Society has plenty of useful information on quality eco-vacations. Check out this list of top destinations for eco-tourism.
Transportation is where most travelers have the biggest environmental impact. For shorter trips, try taking the train instead of flying. This is especially a good idea in Europe where you can reach different countries by train quickly. Once you reach your destination it’s important to continue getting around in an eco-friendly manner. Use public transport to get around, but if you must rent a car rent an eco-friendly hybrid car.
Choose hotels that practice green living techniques. Overall the hotel industry has improved in recent years, many using renewable energy, green cleaning products, have recycling facilities, and provide organic meals. When in doubt, contact the hotel to inquire about their eco-friendly practices. Check this link to find a ranking of eco-friendly hotels by country.
Be a Responsible Guest
In addition to staying at an eco-friendly hotel there are many ways you can play your part to minimize your environmental impact. By reusing bedding and towels, recycling, switching off lights and appliances, and using only as much water as needed, you can really make a difference.
Eco-Friendly Vacation Activities
Choose activities that let you see your destination in an eco-friendly way. Spending time outdoors, taking hikes, and enjoying the natural elements of your destination will keep you from wasting energy and other resources. Talk to your hotel’s tour coordinator for activity recommendations. Eat at locally owned restaurants instead of chains and attend local activities such as tours by local guides. In many countries you can even volunteer for activities to improve the environment!