You've probably heard the typical suggestions about how to travel in a more eco-friendly manner. Pack reusable water bottles, use only one towel, don't leave any trash behind. Yes, those things are important, as every little drop in the ocean makes a difference.
There are also larger, more comprehensive steps you can take to ensure that your next vacation isn't contributing to the destruction of the Earth. Many of us love to travel because we love the planet, especially its extraordinary natural places, so it can feel hypocritical to go jet-setting across continents while knowing that our oceans are choked with plastic and our global climate is warming rapidly.
But done right, tourism can provide valuable resources and support for local communities and preserved areas, and you can always choose to be conscious about where you stay and with whom you choose to travel. Just by putting in a little extra research, you can help to ensure that our beautiful planet will still be around for future generations.
1. Avoid flying
Out of everything you can do to help the planet while you're traveling, avoiding flying is the most significant—and it saves you money! To give you an idea of just how much flying adds to your carbon footprint: one plane flight can contribute as much CO2 to the atmosphere as many people emit each year.
Of course, there's no reason to feel crippled with guilt if you fly once every few years for a big vacation. People who fly constantly for work or pleasure are the ones who should reexamine their choices.
Fortunately, if you absolutely have to fly, you can try to choose an eco-friendly airline and pay a carbon offset tax.