When we think of sustainable travel, what comes to mind is the energy we use to go from one place to another. Exciting prospects are on that horizon. At the last World Economic Forum, many attendees arrived in jets powered by SAF—Sustainable Aviation Fuel. This fuel comes from refined plants or waste products as opposed to fossil fuels—it’s a lot more earth-friendly. How about going electric? We’ll see that for short flights by the end of this decade.
But sustainable travel is so much more, and that more can offset the carbon footprint. We just need to be aware, and active, around the other important aspects of sustainability.
Dun Laoghaire Sunday Market, County Dublin, Ireland
Being considerate of the environment and contributing to local businesses are huge parts of the sustainable equation. Positively impacting a society is, too—that includes teaching, helping a community achieve economic freedom, and medical care. But let’s talk about what we can all do right now.
Whether we’re traveling for business, taking a trip we’ve dreamed about forever, exploring with friends and family, or venturing out solo on a whim, we can actively support sustainability. Our checklist includes using local transportation and lodgings , diving into the culinary scene, shopping for items by area artists and craftspeople, and encouraging communication. (And each is a unique opportunity to create memories.)
Shepherd, The-Dark-Hedges in County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Step out of the familiar. Immerse yourself in the people, nature, culture, and customs of the places you visit. Doing this sends your happiness quotient soaring, and it boosts the well-being of the area you’re discovering.
I’ve been travelling for decades—my parents got me off to an early start. I consider that to be an enormous stroke of good luck. Travel has taught me to move seamlessly through various cultures, both abroad and at home. It has supported my ability to face challenges while remaining calm. It makes me, I hope, a more understanding person.
Travel shapes us. We become resilient, self-confident and empathetic. These qualities serve us in our personal lives, but they also create healthy, global interactions. We truly are one. We see our differences disappear when we travel with people and understand their cultures.
Baker in Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland
My earliest memories are of back roads. They were green and twisted, punctuated by homes with peeling paint and families on the front porch. Roadside stands, with farm women selling fresh jams and juices, were always worth a stop. I remember one stand where an ancient man, who sparkled, sold his hand-carved red birds. (I still have mine.) The money he earned went into a tin coffee can, and you can bet that money was spent in the grocery store down the street.
My wish is for travelers to experience their vacations, even if they’re in a big city, as if they’re on a back road. I want them to dip into local cultures and see life through new eyes. Harmonious relations are definitely part of fostering a green world, and strong communities support our drive for innovation and need for security.
Bubble Dome, Finn Lough Resort in Northern Ireland
I encourage travelers to welcome awe. When we’re filled with wonder, two things happen: We don’t have anxiety—wonder and anxiety cannot co-exist, it’s simply impossible. Here’s the second thing that happens when wonder is a player: We feel deep appreciation for natural beauty and we want to protect it. Walk through an ancient grove in Scotland, see a reindeer herd, and tell me you don’t care what happens to them. I won’t believe you!
Consider experiences and places off the beaten path that boost locals. Natural wonders, vibrant food scenes, arts and crafts, homemade music and festivals, and unique wellness opportunities are all elements of sustainable travel.
Wild Irish Seaweed is sustainably hand harvested by fourth generation seaweed foragers off the coast of Co. Clare, Ireland.
Here’s how to be part of the sustainable travel movement:
- Buy local products.
- Use local guides.
- Avoid chain lodgings
- Support local economies.
- Be a tidy traveler—don’t leave trash behind.
- Enjoy fresh-to-fork foods.
- Look for flights with the fewest stops.
Kayak tour to Cloughoughter Castle with local guide
Last and definitely not least:
- Accept kindness and spread joy. Nothing creates a healthier planet.
By Allegra Lynch, President of Authentic Vacations