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How to travel more sustainably

Our friends at the Travel Foundation explain how to make your next trip more sustainable.

Protect your favourite destinations

Before you go

When you're away

Giving back

Protect your favourite holiday destinations

At Holiday Extras we think the environment is just as important as your holiday.

The planet needs our help, which is why we're moving towards a greener future of sustainable travel. This starts with tackling the climate emergency, because by protecting the world, we protect holidays too.

We've put together some tips that you can use to have a positive impact on the people you meet and places you visit on your next holiday. These tips have been put together with the help of our charity partner and sustainable tourism experts, the Travel Foundation.

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Before you go

Jetting off to your favourite destination can be one of the most exciting parts of your holiday, but the reality is that we need to reduce the amount of flying we do to tackle climate change. But that doesn't mean you should cancel every trip or throw away your bucket list. Instead of stopping your travel plans altogether, it's just a matter of flying smarter.

One way to do this is to fly direct whenever possible and choose lower emission flights (CO2 emissions are given by Google and other comparison sites) (and of course choose lower emission alternatives like trains if that's an option). Stay longer once you're there too. If you can, try visiting two or more destinations in one trip. That way you get more from each holiday and can satisfy your wanderlust without becoming a frequent flyer.

If you're lucky enough to be able to travel outside peak times of year, you'll avoid the queues and help to stop popular attractions becoming overcrowded. Or consider visiting lesser-known places and go exploring to find hidden gems.

Choose accommodation that's committed to environmental protection. Many booking websites and suppliers now tell you which accommodation options are more eco-conscious, and it's definitely worth finding these when you can.

Invest in reuseable cutlery and straws

When you're away

Being a responsible traveller isn't very different to being responsible at home. Remember the basics and keep your footprint small by reusing towels and bed linen, turning down/off heating and air-conditioning when not required and turning off all lights and appliances when you leave your room. When you're out and about, using public transport isn't just a great environmentally friendly choice, but is often one of the best ways to authentically experience a destination.

But depending on where you go, there are also important differences to bear in mind. For example:

  • When travelling we tend to use a lot more single-use plastic, which is often harder to recycle when you're on holiday. Make sure to pack your own water bottle (with a filter if needed), coffee cup and a bag wherever you go.
  • You'll probably come across natural habitats and historic places on your travels that are particularly sensitive to the impacts of tourism:
    • Consider eco-friendly sun cream and other toiletries when swimming.
    • Choose wildlife tours with qualified guides where you see animals in their natural habitat, avoiding excursions that involve animals in captivity.
    • Order sustainable fish dishes (check the MSC's Good Fish Guide) and avoid any souvenirs made from shells, coral or endangered species.
  • We often travel to places with warm climates with little rainfall, which is great for a sun-seeking holiday but it means we need to be more careful with our use of water.
  • Many people in holiday destinations rely on tourism for their livelihoods, so how we spend our cash really matters. Buying local means the money you spend on holiday stays in the local economy. Keep an eye out for excursions using local companies and guides, locally made souvenirs and food sourced from nearby where possible. You'll be doing some good, and get a much more authentic experience.

And of course, as a guest in another country, we should be especially respectful of cultural differences. Learning a few words of the local language is always appreciated. Dress and act appropriately, particularly in less-touristy or sacred places, and remember it's usually polite to ask permission before taking photographs of people.

Giving back

If you'd like to give back to the places you've visited, consider donating to a local charity that's involved in social or conservation projects. Or you can always support our friends the Travel Foundation, a UK charity with projects in many popular holiday destinations around the world.

Another way you can give back is with feedback. Tell hotels and other businesses that you want them to operate sustainably and offer helpful suggestions. If they know there's a demand, they'll respond much more quickly. Use review sites such as Tripadvisor to highlight people and businesses you met who went the extra mile to look after the environment and support their communities – and flag anything you experienced which gave you cause for concern.

Try out some of these tips on your next holiday. You'll see they make all the difference to how you experience a destination.