Last updated June 4, 2021
Eco-friendly travel is on the rise. According to some surveys, as many as two-thirds of travelers purposefully choose sustainable tourism when traveling. But knowing what reflects eco-friendly travel and what doesn’t can be challenging.
Many destinations promote sustainable tourism, but these can vary tremendously in their level of commitment. Therefore, it’s important to not only know what represents more sustainable travel, but it’s also essential to understand best practices and your options when arranging an eco-friendly wellness vacation.
So, what exactly is “eco-friendly” travel? According to the World Conservation Union, it refers to environmentally responsible tourism in natural areas. It involves not only engaging with and appreciating nature but also promoting conservation.
It also means having a low visitor impact on a destination while striving to have a positive socioeconomic impact. Given this description of sustainable tourism, there are many things we can do when planning an eco-friendly wellness vacation.
Here are 8 important tips you might want to consider.
Packing for Eco-friendly Travel
As with any activity, preparation is the key to success. This is certainly true when planning a wellness vacation. Anticipate how you can promote sustainable tourism when arranging the items you will take.
For example, include reusable bottles for toiletries and choose environmentally friendly products. Likewise, include clothes that are light that can be worn for different occasions. And of course, don’t forget an eco-friendly reusable water bottle. Packing with the environment in mind will influence what you take while reducing your luggage footprint as well.
Choosing Transportation Wisely
When it comes to sustainable tourism, transportation accounts for a sizable portion of your carbon footprint. In fact, air travel accounts for as much as 9 percent of the world’s carbon emissions today.
Understanding this, choosing to travel by bus or train is typically more environmentally friendly. Even a car may be preferred if more than one passenger shares the ride.
And if air travel is a must, choose nonstop flights and economy class over other options. This improves efficiency, which also helps reduce environmental impacts.
Options for Accommodations
Many hotels and resorts claim to be sustainable in nature, but the devil can be in the details. For some vacation properties, a LEED certification indicates that sustainable materials were used. Likewise, this supports water and electrical sustainable practices as well.
But in addition to this, eco-friendly travel destinations are invested in recycling, avoiding plastics and promoting both conservation and reuse. And local accommodations should be investigated wince this support local economic sustainability.
Do your homework, and don’t be hesitant to ask specific questions. Destinations invested in sustainable tourism will be happy to answer.
Sustainable Tourism Activities
Another important part of sustainable tourism involves the activities you plan while on vacation. For wellness travel, this will often include excursions in nature that range from hiking to water activities. Understanding this, choose eco-friendly travel activities that primarily involve walking, bicycling or hiking.
For water sports, consider non-invasive activities like kayaking or paddleboarding. In fact, many wellness vacation destinations offer specific eco-friendly tours that are invested in protecting the environment. By paying attention to the environmental impact your activities might have, you can make more informed choices.
Respecting Local Cultures
Certainly, respecting local flora and fauna when on a wellness vacation is a key part of sustainable tourism. Ensuring that your footprint is small in this regard is important. But at the same time, it is similarly important to know the local customs and culture. By understanding regional beliefs and customs, you can also engage in eco-friendly travel by making a positive impact.
By understanding and respecting local cultures, you accomplish this goal more readily. And in the process, you will gain a much deeper appreciation for diversity and the world at large.
Eco-friendly Travel Behaviors
Eco-friendly travel certainly requires planning how you will travel and many aspects about your destination. But at the same time, sustainable tourism is greatly enhanced through the everyday behaviors you exhibit. In this regard, things like avoiding plastics and disposable items can go a long way.
In addition, notify cleaning staff that towels and linens do not need to be cleaned every day. And of course, choosing to recycle your waste and using non-toxic personal hygiene products are important environmentally friendly behaviors. These types of behaviors should be part of your routine lifestyle. And therefore, they should also be included as part of your wellness vacation and travel.
Support Local Economies
Sustainable tourism demands that we respect the destinations where we travel. As noted, this involves appreciating local customs and practices. But at the same time, it is important to support these local communities through commerce.
By showing economic support for local venues and offerings, you show respect for local communities. This enables local shops and residents to continually invest in their areas, which is essential for eco-friendly travel.
Thus, when on a wellness vacation, choose to visit local restaurants and shops rather than larger store chains. This is an important yet underappreciated aspect of eco-friendly travel that should be considered.
On Your Return Home
With most wellness retreats, you will likely return home changed for the better. In some instances, you might have recommitted yourself to a better wellness lifestyle.
In others, you may feel refreshed and ready to live a healthier life. In addition, eco-friendly travel has a way to impress upon you the importance of environmental sustainability.
For this reason, you may consider compensating for the environmental impact you had during your trip. Donating to organizations that plant trees, clean up waste or fortify existing environments is a great way to accomplish this. And it is a great way to promote sustainable tourism in the process.
Choosing Wellness and an Eco-friendly Lifestyle
Sustainable tourism has much to offer. It encourages us to be more aware of our surroundings. And it allows us to better appreciate how we interact with nature. When we choose eco-friendly travel, it demonstrates that we respect the world we live in as well as global health.
Therefore, these types of wellness vacations can further promote wellness and eco-friendly lifestyles upon our return. In essence, sustainable tourism can serve as a catalyst in the way we approach our daily lives. And this naturally further enhances our overall wellbeing along the way.
With this in mind, the tips provided will not just help you plan an eco-friendly wellness vacation. They will also lead to positive changes in your life even when you are not traveling. It is well recognized that wellness travel serves to motivate us to lead healthier lives when we return.
In the same way, eco-friendly travel makes us more cognizant of environmental sustainability. This can have powerful effects not only at an individual level but from a global one as well. And in turn, it will make eco-friendly travel even more popular than it is today.