An Intentional Travel Plan

While we love experiencing new places and cultures (both at home and abroad), traveling can be harmful to the environment. In 2018, we want to continue to minimize our carbon footprint by choosing to embrace the most responsible and conscious travel practices. 

To do this, we’ve compiled a list of resolutions based on our 2017 sustainable travel articles. These resolutions sum up what we believe are some of the most important principles for responsible tourism. So, to celebrate and kick off another wonderful year, here are five conscious travel resolutions we’re committed to practicing in 2018.


1. Choose Ground Transportation

According to the EPA, 12 percent of all transportation greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in the United States comes from aircrafts. One cross-country flight produces 1/5 of the greenhouse gas your car emits in one year.

In 2018, try to reduce your carbon footprint by flying less often and using public ground transportation. While trains and cars still emit GHGs, they produce much less and consequently leave a smaller footprint. This is especially true when driving a hybrid or electric vehicle. Driving also promotes carpooling and allows you to explore hard to reach places. Ride-sharing apps like Bla Bla Car are also useful for safely tagging along with other travelers—both stateside and abroad—who are headed in the same direction. 

If you do need to fly, choose economy. Experts have found first class passengers generate up to 7 times the carbon footprint of the average flyer. Practice responsible flying by packing your own silverware for meals and drinking from a reusable bottle instead of the one-time-use plastic cups. Before boarding your next flight, read our conscious carry-on guide for our favorite sustainable in-flight items. 

For the greenest way to travel though, choose to bike or explore your next destination on foot. These modes of transportation are not only excellent for your health, but they leave the smallest footprint on our environment. 

 

2. Eat Locally Sourced Foods

In the past decade, researchers have found that, on average, food in the United States travels 1,500 miles from farmer to consumer. These foods are generally transported via trucks, trains, or in the air, depending on their origin. “Food miles”—as they are commonly called—leave a negative impact on our environment, especially when air-freighted or transported on ships. 

In 2018, resolve to eat fresh and locally grown foods. Whether you are grocery shopping at home or traveling abroad, you can practice conscious living by buying and consuming locally grown produce and ingredients. Eating locally also supports farmers and small businesses, and it allows you to experience traditional agriculture and cuisine.

A few tips for finding local restaurants and eateries abroad: (1) avoid eating on the main tourist strip or at chain restaurants (2) look for a restaurant with a menu that is in the local language (3) and choose a restaurant where other locals are dining. If you are traveling across the USA, make sure to visit one of our favorite farm-to-table restaurants. 

 

3. Support Environmental And Wildlife Conservation Efforts

When you travel this year, make an effort to learn about and get involved with the environmental conservation work happening in the places you visit. There are so many wonderful organizations, both at home and abroad, that are combatting ecological threats and working tirelessly to preserve and restore nature. Reach out ahead of time and ask if you can spend a day volunteering or learning from environmental experts. 

In addition to supporting conservation work for the environment, you can practice responsible travel this year by refusing to participate in animal tourism. These activities include (but are not limited to) elephant excursions, holding and feeding baby tigers, and swimming with dolphins. Instead, spend a day learning from and supporting wildlife conservation experts. For a few day-trip ideas, read about our favorite ethical wildlife experiences abroad.

 

4. Sleep Sustainably

In 2018, resolve to only stay in accommodations that are committed to environmental sustainability. Look for hotels and hostels with energy efficient lighting, LEED certifications, recycling programs, and responsibly sourced toiletries. Many of these accommodations also offer a fresh, organic breakfast, as well as support local artists by decorating rooms with their paintings and photography.

You can find out about an accommodation’s corporate responsibility and sustainability model by calling the front desk or visiting their website. To get an idea of what to look for, here are a few of our favorite eco-friendly luxury hotels in the USA and UK.

We also recommend staying in locally-owned and operated accommodations, such as these European hostels committed to sustainability and eco-friendly AirBnbs.

 

5. Explore Your Own City

Our final sustainable travel resolution for 2018 is to travel less often. 

We love exploring new cities, meeting new people, and experience foreign cultures, but traveling often is not always the most sustainable activity. In 2018, resolve to explore your own city, as well as the places nearby. If you live somewhere like Los Angeles or New York, this can be easy as there are always new and exciting things to discover. If you live somewhere more remote, carpool to the nearest big city for a weekend away. National parks are also perfect for exploring trails and campsites. 

While we know how incredible faraway trips can be, try to minimize extended travel in 2018 and spend more time in your backyard. We know we plan to!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kayti Christian, a staff writer for The Good Trade, is a storyteller, creator, activist, and avid traveler hailing from Colorado, now living in London. With 30+ stamps in her passport, she is passionate about responsible tourism and is always looking for new ways to be a more conscious traveler. She is currently pursuing her MA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at City, University of London.