Five top Tips for travelling sustainably 

The Earth is astounding. Think of diving to see the colorful corals of the expansive Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, or trekking snowy peaks in the vast Himalayas.

Humans are enamored with the world’s natural beauty, but our love for travelling is harming the Earth; there’s no getting around that fact. Tourism is responsible for 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, 49% of this share comes from transport, mostly by plane.

You can travel more sustainably by making choices that reduce your carbon footprint. Go a step further by practicing regenerative travel; a trend that focuses on taking action to offset carbon usage and leaving your destination better than you found it. Jonathan Day, an associate professor at Purdue University focused on sustainable tourism, describes regenerative tourism like this:

“Sustainable tourism is sort of a low bar. At the end of the day, it’s just not making a mess of the place,” Day says. “Regenerative tourism says, let’s make it better for future generations.”

Here’s some top tips on how to practice sustainable or regenerative travel.

Volunteering on eco projects is a stellar example of regenerative travel. Research how you can give back to natural wonders while travelling abroad.

Go, a leading search engine for international travel programs, offers details on more than 360 regenerative travel programs worldwide. The well-known International Volunteer HQ brings together people of various ages and skill sets to work on regenerative travel initiatives worldwide. Choose from 26 conservation programs worldwide and work with local conservationists on projects that “support jungle and rainforest conservation, climate action, environmental education, sustainable cities, coastline conservation, organic farming and tree planning,” IVHQ says.

You may want to consider choosing local guides and tour companies whenever possible. Hiring local tour guides benefits local economies and will give you unique experiences in less travelled areas of your destination. Local touring companies also tend to support environmental restoration projects in their region, which leverages your dollars to fight against climate change.

One such company is Kuoda Travel, a locally operated luxury touring company in Peru that partners with indigenous communities to offer immersive travel experiences. Kuoda Travel also gives back to the environment by participating in habitat restoration efforts in the Amazon Basin.

Mery Calderon, founder of Kuoda Travel draws inspiration from her roots in Cusco Peru and her childhood experience working in a souvenir shop owned by her parents. She founded Kuoda with a mission to provide authentic cultural and natural tours of South America.

In return, tourism promotes cultural preservation and environmental conservation. Kuoda offers four community-led travel experiences that celebrate indigenous culture. In Kuoda’s “Rituals and Music: Connecting with Ancient Spirits” tour, shamans lead guests through meaningful ceremonies honoring the solstice and other events.

If you’re seeking an incredibly immersive experience, stay with a host family for Kuoda’s “Uros People of Lake Titicaca: A Floating Culture program.” You will reside in the remarkable Uros community, located on islands floating in Lake Titicaca, constructed from Totora reeds. Join your hosts for daily activities such as harvesting these essential reeds, navigating the lake by canoe, and setting up nets to catch fish. It’s a truly unique way to experience a local, niche lifestyle.

Slow travel is a sustainable tourism practice that will always go a long way toward lowering your trip’s carbon emissions. Instead of trying to fit in every destination possible, take one long, international trip exploring a single region of a nation. Imagine a two-week slow food tour of Puglia, the southern heel of the “boot” of Italy, sampling the region’s best focaccia or caciocavallo.

Slow travel may lower your trip’s transit cost and lodging is often cheaper for long-term stays in guesthouses and other locally operated accommodations. You also have more time to soak in your destination’s culture, art and history.

If you want to travel to multiple countries, try saving your money and vacation time so that you can combine each destination into one trip, instead of several trips. That way, your carbon output is reduced.

Related to slow travel is choosing to explore your destination using carbon-free transit – your own two feet. Choose to hike, bike or paddle to explore cities and wild areas in Canada and across the world.

Go off grid for a few months and hike the Appalachian Trail in the U.S. from Maine to Georgia, or travel to the west coast to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Travel by bike through Amsterdam, a city known for its love of cycling. You can take in more of the Netherlands by cycling the 50km route between Amsterdam and Utrecht, named the “best cycling city in the world.” Here in Canada, Vancouver is an urban kayaker’s paradise. Hit the water on False Creek in downtown Vancouver or off of Jericho Beach.

While choosing a hotel and other accommodations before a trip, keep sustainability in mind by researching each property’s commitment to the environment and local communities. And beware of greenwashing; initiatives that have no real impact and are just for show. Green properties can be found worldwide, but Canada has numerous options if you’re thinking about domestic travel. Check out this list of top eco-friendly luxury hotels in major cities and wilderness areas throughout Canada.

Did you know that your government health insurance plan may not fully protect you while travelling outside your home province? Emergency medical benefits by Allianz Global Assistance can help you fill coverage gaps. Our plans with Trip Cancellation benefits reimburse non-refundable expenses if your trip is cancelled or delayed for a covered reason.

Get a travel insurance quote today to find out how Allianz Global Assistance can help you travel with peace of mind.

Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc

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