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01 August, 2013

Travel with an Increased Green Awareness

Wading through a river during a jungle tour in Thailand
Jungle Tour in Thailand
Many people visualize someone camping in the jungle or wading through a remote river when they hear the terms "Green Travel" or "Green Tourism". However, Green Travel encompasses a wide variety of tourism experiences and is something that can be enjoyed by all. People who enjoy comfort don't have to sacrifice this by staying somewhere without amenities. Green Travel can involve visiting large cities or smaller villages, staying in luxurious hotels or eco-lodges. The most important aspect of Green Tourism is to consider the environment you are visiting and to try to protect and preserve this environment. 


Sea Lion on Santa Cruz Island Galapagos
Sea Lion on the Galapagos Islands

The essence of Green Travel:

"Green Travel", "Eco-Tourism" and "Green Tourism" are all expressions that have emerged in recent times and they seem to grow in use all the time. They all have similar meanings and each of them involves making efforts to protect the cultural and natural environment of destinations that are visited. This can mean respecting local communities, conserving wildlife and plants and trying to make a contribution to local cultures. 


Blue Footed Booby on Isabella Island Galapagos
Blue Footed Booby on the Galapagos Islands

The importance of Green Travel:

Approximately 1 billion tourists make trips all around the world these days, meaning that it's even more vital than ever for travelers to make efforts to reduce the impact they have on the earth's natural beauty and its cultures. Tourism's negative side can be seen on a local and global scale. Hotels on beachfronts can mean an increase in erosion to the shoreline, more and more tourists are visiting delicate ecosystems and damaging plane emissions are contributing to global warming.

Trying to be a more responsible traveler is not difficult. By adopting a green approach to travel, you can help to protect the destinations you love, not only for yourself, but also for the visitors that will follow you and also for the indigenous people of these places. In addition to this, Green Tourism, can help you to have a more authentic tourist experience. 

A common misconception is that if people want to try and be more conscientious with regards to Green Travel, this will push the price of the trip up. Offsetting carbon emissions from the plane journey can initially increase the price slightly but green hotels can be found to suit all budgets and tastes. Also once you reach your destination, getting around by public transport, walking and biking are all cheaper and more environmentally friendly than taking a taxi. 


Coatimundi in Costa Rica
Coatimundi Costa Rica

Selecting a Green Hotel:

There are many websites that contain lists of various types of accommodation that have been deemed to be friendly to the environment. These various sites will have differing criteria as to how they judge the green credentials of the hotels they list, so you should do some research yourself to ensure that your chosen hotel meets the standard requirements. 

Some consideration that can help you to find a Green Hotel are:
  • Is the hotel owned by a local or locally based company? In case not are the staff local people?
  • Find out whether the hotel has a proper system of recycling paper, plastic and aluminum
  • Environmentally hotels will give guests the option to NOT have their sheets and towels changed every day
  • Has the hotel implemented any measures to reduce consumption such as wind or solar power or energy-efficient light bulbs?

Not staying in a green minded hotel does not mean that you cannot take measures to make your travels more friendly to the environment and community. Some tips for a more green friendly approach when staying in a hotel are:
  • Turn off the tap whilst cleaning teeth and take shorter showers
  • Turn off all electric devices such as TV, lights and air-conditioning when you are not in your hotel room
  • In case your towels don't need to replaced yet, hang up your towels neatly so the staff will not replace them
  • Include feedback - both positive and negative - about the hotel's efforts to Green Travel when you check out


Holiday Nomad taking a local train in Thailand
Local Train in Thailand

Transportation:

Air travel is regarded by many as a major contributing factor to global warming and transportation in general is where you make the biggest impact on the environment. There are a number of steps that you can take to reduce the environmental impact you make:
  • Carbon emissions created by a flight can be offset
  • Trains can be used, rather than planes, particularly in Europe where many countries are linked through rail networks
  • Rent a smaller vehicle when possible; hybrid vehicles are more friendly to the environment
  • Public transport is a greener option as opposed to renting a car or taking a taxi


View on Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate Sacred Valley in Peru
View on Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate

Sightseeing responsibly:

Perserve our worlds most stunning places for future generations:
  • Some tour operators are more green minded than others, ask questions about the size of the group, cause less of an impact is made by smaller groups. Also check how does the tour operator give back to the local community and whether the tour guides are locals with local knowledge. You can find more tips on selecting a responsible tour company in my Inca Trail Preparation and Packing List post.
  • When you go swimming or snorkeling near coral reefs, avoid direct contact with the coral
  • Buy local products, this is a good way to help the local community and the overall world environment as shipping goods to places leaves a footprint
  • Try to learn something about the local culture, maybe even a few basic words of the language

Try to make your own individual contribution when it comes to Green Travel topics. If everybody makes a small effort, a big difference can be made. Raising awareness about Green Travel will make more people realize that they can contribute themselves, this will have a positive impact on the world's environment and culture. 

How are you contributing to Green Travel or Green Tourism?


Freya - Holiday Nomad, a Travel and Photo Blog


54 comments:

  1. Great post, Freya!

    According to The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), ecotourism is "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people."

    I think most people understand the "natural areas" and "conserves the environment" parts. But I don't think that even seasoned travelers understand that, if it doesn't improve the well-being of local people, it is NOT technically responsible ecotourism.

    KUdos for highlighting this important issue!

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    1. Hi Bret thanks ! Indeed the well-being of the local people is an important part of Responsible travel as well.

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  2. Thanks for this post, Freya! We do many of the things you mention like hanging up our towels. After all, at home I wouldn't get a fresh towel daily so I don't need a new one each day at the hotel either.

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  3. Freya, great tips here. I hadn't thought about the size of a group and what an impact that can make. You got me thinking now!

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    1. Yes the bigger the group, the bigger the impact

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  4. The big one that I do (besides ALWAYS hanging up my towels at a hotel) is to eat or drink somewhere local. You won't see me at a chain restaurant (unless it's the only thing open and I need to eat). I want to give back to the community and I want to tell people about their community haves that are special.

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    1. Local food is one of my favorites

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  5. Great post Freya! Everybody should try to be a more responsible traveler because as you said it is not difficult.
    We are learning a lot about it the more we travel :)

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    1. It's not difficult indeed and all little bits help

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  6. Great ideas and reminders for all financial levels of travelers. Be earth friendly.

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  7. This is a great article considering that i belong to a country where impacts of this climate change is very visible.. Lets all be responsible travelers

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    1. When everybody contributes a little, a big change can be made

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  8. I am a firm believer that more people should travel by bicycle - Environmentally friendly, and it also provides unique travel experiences ;)

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    1. A bicycle is a great way of transportation and indeed environmentally friendly and a great way to travel

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  9. This is such an important subject, Freya! Glad you've brought it up.

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  10. Thank you for the great awareness guide about green tourism, Freya! It's a good thing to be reminded as we often forget the carbon footprint we leave behind when traveling. Great tips!

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  11. Great ideas and a wonderful way to raise awareness for green tourism, Freya. Visiting the National parks has elevated our awareness for conservation and preservation so I try to teach the kids to be responsible global citizens. We love using public transport and walking and we love local products and learning about the local culture.

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    1. I think personally that mingling with the locals and learning about their culture provides great travel experiences.

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  12. That's a good thing to consider, although not too many tourists think about it I suppose... Most of the people prefer comfort while on holidays.
    I always try to choose the local hotels/accommodation and don't need the sheets change everyday.
    I also wish I could travel by trains as I hate planes but unfortunately I don't have enough time.
    Great post and photos, I love the Machu Picchu one, didn't see it from that angle. Amazing.

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    1. Thanks Tom. For the tourists that want comfort there are also very luxurious and comfortable Green hotels.

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  13. Great suggestions. I always try and rent the smallest car possible even though rental companies try and get you to take larger cars. I avoid buying bottled water and try and throw my money into the local economy whenever possible.

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  14. You were so near, yet missed Malaysia.

    And my playground.

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  15. I do some of the things you mentioned. On my travels, I always bring a water bottle and an eco-bag for grocery shopping, don't replace the hotel towel everyday, and as much as possible eat at small restaurants or buy street food, though it's mostly for budget purposes and not green travel. Still, you have a lot of tips here that I can definitely implement in my trips!

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    1. Hi Aleah, looks like you are contributing already quite a lot.

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  16. Great job putting into clear perspective how each of us can contribute to eco-friendly tourism. I try to be green conscious when I travel, but there's room for improvement. I'm seeing more and more hotels that are making efforts to be greener. Hope the trend continues! Important issue -- well done helping to spread the word.

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    1. Yes I hope as well that the trend will continue, thanks Cathy

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  17. Thanks for the great article Freya.
    I did notice that the person who cleans the rooms sometimes changes the towels anyway, even when you put it on the towel rack.

    Good habits start at home. :)

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    1. Hi Esther, you are right but this is something you can mention on the feedback form and hopefully they will change their policy after a while.

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  18. Great advice and good reminders for those of us who do try to live in a green way. Sometimes when I travel I forget myself a bit, and don't always live by the green standards we do at home. Recycling can be the hardest thing when staying in a hotel without recycling or trying to find a place to get rid of recyclable rubbish without a recycling bin around.

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    1. So true there is still a lot of improvement in many hotels.

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  19. For an even better travel experience that is both socially and environmentally encouraging, check out www.couchsurfing.org

    Try to buy local and contribute to small business, peruse local markets and orchards, and if possible try and only take showers every other day. :)

    Cheers!

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    1. couchsurfing can be indeed a great experience but not my cup of tea :)

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  20. Beautiful photos - you really captured the essence of each place and/or critter.

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  21. Great post! Responsible tourism is very important :)

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  22. Wonderful tour of the Eco tourism narrated beautifully. so, nice post with nice pictures.

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  23. This fantastic Freya and it was an amazing education for me! I really sat back and contemplated even doing several things differently in my very own home after reading this. I'm very, very cognizant of our environment and extremely concerned (as in dire) as to what is happening to our beautiful planet. Thank you! :)

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    1. Thanks Mike, we should all try to do the best we can to preserve our beautiful planet.

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  24. Nice post. Green Travel is also one of my favorite kinds of tourism. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Helen thanks. Responsible tourism is becoming increasingly important.

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  25. Wow nice post

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  26. Nice... it looks really great...it makes me happy. I really enjoy this post too :)

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  27. Hi Freya we are new to your blog by way of mutual blogging buddy, Mike Vogler who is hosting you on his blog. So happy to meet someone who is so passionate about the world we live in. Growing up as I did with my father, (very spiritual) he taught us to respect God's land & that we can be the enemies or friends to this earth. I love any site, blog or blogger that promotes earth-friendly posts!! We look forward to stopping by more often & reading more of your posts!! :)

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by. Our planet is so beautiful and there are so many wonderful places to discover, definitely worth saving.

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Freya - Holiday Nomad