This blog was written for us by responsible US traveller Jessie Chen (@lostwithjess) who’s an advocate for traversing this big beautiful planet of ours in a sustainable fashion.

While there are endless benefits to travelling, did you know that it can also have significant environmental and social costs on the planet and the places we visit? However, this doesn’t mean we should stop travelling altogether. There are conscious decisions and actions we can all make to help reduce our impact one small step at a time. Read on for my top tips on responsible travel!

Offset your flight’s carbon footprint

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Flying can be one of the most carbon-intensive actions you take when travelling. In fact, a one-way flight from London to New York generates 986kg of CO2 per passenger. Many airlines have become aware of this environmental impact, and are offering carbon offset programs or investing in fuel-efficient planes. Most companies, like Delta or JetBlue in the US or British Airways and EasyJet in the UK, have their own carbon offset programs in which you pay a small donation per flight to help fund technology and forestry projects. You can also opt to donate directly to programs like Carbonfund.org. It’s just $20 to offset a flight up to 10,000 miles, which is totally worth it!

Use this carbon calculator to figure out your flight’s CO2 amount! 

Take a reusable water bottle

Hopefully, you’re already using a reusable water bottle in your daily life. While this is a small thing we can do as individuals and will by no means save the environment singlehandedly, we can all strive for a zero-waste lifestyle. Mass tourism is also a mass trash generator in many local communities that don’t have a proper waste or recycling program. In some countries where tap water is not safe to drink, I like to buy a large container of water and keep it in my hotel room so I can refill my water bottle daily.

Avoid travelling to spots suffering from overtourism

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Some of the most popular destinations in the world, like Barcelona, Venice, or Amsterdam, are suffering from overtourism. This can have major environmental and societal impacts. Overtourism drives up rent prices and drives out locals, generates more waste, and brings in crowds that many older cities just don’t have the structural foundation to support on a physical level. On the other hand, travelling to lesser-known places can actually have a positive impact on the local economy. Besides, less touristy spots mean fewer crowds and are usually cheaper!

Be mindful of your accommodation choices

It’s important to make a mindful decision about where to stay on your trip, and how you treat your stay while you’re there. Staying in locally-owned accommodations, like the villas on Oliver’s Travels, is much better than staying at large chains or internationally owned hotels because the money stays within the local economy. During your stay, there are steps you can take to reduce waste. Turn down the heat or AC in the room and turn off the lights when you leave, and make sure the windows are shut when the AC is on. And if you need to stay in hotels, hang up towels instead of leaving them on the floor to signal that you’d like to reuse them. And avoid using the single-use toiletries and bring your own instead.

Support local businesses

Tourism done right can have many positive effects on local communities. However, a huge chunk of the money spent on tourism ends up with large, global, corporate companies instead. To avoid this economic leak, always opt to spend money with locally-owned restaurants, accommodation, or shops rather than international chains.

Opt for sustainable or eco-friendly tour companies

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Do your research to ensure a tour company or local guided trips are ethical and sustainable. Look for companies that hire local guides or put the money back into conservation efforts.

Avoid animal tourism

This is especially rampant in parts of Southeast Asia, where it is still popular to do activities like elephant rides or visit tiger enclosures. Do your research to ensure something is 100% ethical – you can still enjoy the educational aspect and be close to animals at many sanctuaries or rescue centres.

Take longer trips

If you must fly internationally, then make it worthwhile by staying longer at your destination. Slow travel has many benefits. You’ll reduce transportation emissions by staying in one place for longer, and you can immerse yourself in the local community and culture. If you stay in one place long enough, you might even opt for a short-term villa rental rather than a hotel where you can control your waste more efficiently such as doing less laundry or cooking your own meals.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Jessie is an NYC-based blogger and content creator behind Lost With Jess, a travel blog inspiring people to explore the world, make meaningful connections and leave a positive impact wherever they go. She loves to discover and share off-the-beaten-path gems and is passionate about living a sustainable and conscious lifestyle both on and off the road. Follow her adventures on Instagram!

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