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Sustainable travel – 5 tips for your summer vacation

Whether in your own country, in Europe or on other continents: Traveling means taking a break from everyday life, experiencing new things and getting to know other languages, cultures and landscapes. Many people want to enjoy their vacation in cities or in the countryside and recharge their batteries while consciously experiencing nature or culture. However, tourism is now one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world and the need for transportation to vacation destinations and local transport is exacerbating climate change. Infrastructure and the increased need for resources for accommodation also lead to higher CO2 emissions.

But there is good news: According to surveys, many people are already becoming more aware of sustainable travel and the negative impact of tourism on nature and the environment. Find out how you can make your summer vacation more sustainable with five tried-and-tested tips.

1. Destination: as close as possible!

Although you are certainly longing to get away from your everyday life, it is always most sustainable to choose a vacation destination that is as close to your home as possible. The more regional and local the vacation destination, the more environmentally friendly it is. Instead of traveling far by plane, you can also discover places in your region that can be just as exciting and beautiful. So the motto is: promote regionality and save air miles!

2. Book sustainable accommodation

If you want to stay sustainably on vacation, there are numerous ecological options. Families or individuals can spend an ecological and sustainable vacation on organic farms. As part of the worldwide network WWOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms), vacationers have the opportunity to help out on organic farms in exchange for room and board. Camping with a tent is very environmentally friendly and promises an adventurous time. The principle of CouchSurfing has been around since the early 2000s and is popular as a hospitality network for free accommodation and cultural exchange. CouchSurfing in private accommodation requires fewer resources than traditional hotels. A house or apartment swap is also possible if you want to opt for a sustainable form of accommodation. However, membership of a network is usually required for both couch surfing and house swaps.

When choosing traditional accommodation such as hotels, vacation homes, apartments and campsites, you can always make sure that they place value on sustainability and environmental protection. Accommodation is eco-friendly if it is well connected to public transport, centrally located and has a bike rental service. Ecological and sustainable accommodation is characterized by healthy and organic food, measures to avoid waste, the use of green electricity and a resource-conserving use of water and energy. Many hotels also do without certain facilities such as pools, golf courses or their own mini-bars in the rooms in order to save resources.

Camping with tents on the mountain

3. Choose sustainable means of transportation

Anyone who is concerned with the topic of sustainable travel quickly asks themselves which means of transportation is the most environmentally friendly. Most people are now aware that air travel and cruises are harmful to the environment and should be avoided wherever possible. When flying, the motto is: book direct flights, take less luggage and prefer vegetarian or vegan food on the plane.

Instead of taking a long flight or booking a ticket for a cruise, you can get to your destination in a very environmentally friendly way by train or coach. Longer journeys to other continents are also possible with trains if you have enough time. Compared to cars or planes, public transport has a much better environmental footprint. If you can take longer for your trip, there is even the option of traveling to other continents on a sailing cruise. At the top of the sustainability list are, of course, bicycle tours, which are usually extremely CO2-saving and allow you to experience the itinerary with all your senses. Of course, you need the necessary fitness and suitable equipment to be able to master the route well.

Alongside cycling, long-distance hiking is actually one of the most sustainable and sporty options for getting from A to B. If you don’t want to do without the classic car as a means of transportation, you can rent an electric car for your vacation. However, a car journey is only really sustainable if as many people as possible travel together, the speed remains at a maximum of 100 km/h and little luggage is taken along.

Hiking trail in the mountains

4. Eat and shop sustainably

If you want to eat sustainably on vacation, you can ideally buy organic and fair trade products. When visiting restaurants, you can often opt for vegan or vegetarian dishes. Apps such as HappyCow are a good way to help you find vegan restaurants or food options in your vacation region. At markets and supermarkets, you can also make sure you buy fresh, seasonal and regional products and support small businesses.

Regional farmers' market

5. Conscious and environmentally friendly behavior

Even before you go on vacation, you can make sure that you buy as little new and duplicate equipment and clothing as possible and instead borrow as many items as possible. If you take more time to pack, you can take your time to think about what you really need for your vacation and avoid unnecessary luggage. Once you arrive at your vacation destination, there are numerous ways in which you can make your vacation more sustainable. The choice of activities and sports is also crucial when it comes to sustainability. Surfing, climbing, hiking, cycling and canoeing are particularly environmentally friendly and also promote your physical fitness.

It’s not just the transportation to your vacation destination that is important, but transportation on site can also be sustainable. If possible, you can of course walk or cycle many distances. Car sharing is also often a good option and a sustainable alternative to renting a car. In your accommodation, for example, you can make sure to save water and not change the towels every day. Even seemingly small things, such as turning off the lights, TV or air conditioning, can be important measures for a more sustainable vacation.

Environmentally conscious behavior also means staying on marked paths in nature so as not to disturb animals in their habitat. The topic of waste avoidance is also particularly relevant in order to reduce environmental pollution. If you are motivated, you can also take part in one of the many clean-up campaigns and thus make a contribution to reducing waste. If you are traveling, you can also use reusable bottles and water filters that you bring with you. Ideally, this will save you large quantities of plastic (bottles) during your stay. You can also use coral-friendly sunscreen when swimming in the sea to protect corals in the long term.


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