Sustainable travel should be the only way we travel. From excessive air travel that causes harmful CO2 emissions to package holiday resorts that are built on natural areas, international travel and tourism are unfortunately far from sustainable. Below are simple ways you can travel more consciously by choosing and avoiding certain types of accommodations.
Stay in locally-owned accommodation
Support local business owners by opting to stay in locally-owned accommodation. This generally includes small hotels, Airbnbs, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and couchsurfing. If unsure about the sustainability of hotels, read the ‘about’ pages on their websites.
Check for green certifications at hotels and hostels
Hotels contribute 60 million tons of CO2 emissions annually due to wasteful practices and oblivious guests. Yet, if all the hotels in the US were to go green by reducing their emissions by just 10%, it would be the same as planting 1.1 million acres of pine trees. Look for accommodations with a commitment to sustainability initiatives. These may include solar power, energy-efficient lighting, recycling, employing locals, etc. Find out how a hotel sources their food and if they use locally sourced building materials and decor. Be mindful of ‘greenwashing’- some hotels are known for labeling themselves green without actually implementing any sustainability initiatives. Green Globe and Green Key are two of the most reputable sustainability certifications in the international travel and tourism industry.
Avoid all-inclusive resorts
All-inclusive resorts are often sold as a cheap, safe, zero-hassles travel option. Having you pay up-front for your accommodation, food and activities, tourists have little incentive to go elsewhere. They typically do not go out to local restaurants, hire local tour guides or participate in cultural activities. All-inclusive resorts tend to be foreign-owned, meaning tourist money doesn’t benefit the local economy or the people. It’s estimated that in the Caribbean, about 80% of the money spent by tourists ends up leaving host communities. When the money doesn’t go back to local pockets, workers are often forced to tolerate poor working conditions, long work days, short-term contracts, endure economic vulnerability in the low seasons, unpaid overtime, and incredibly low pay.