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How to Travel More Sustainably in 2023

Learn what is sustainable travel + 7 ways to travel more sustainably

|November 25, 2022
Gabija is passionate about traveling and writing. In her free time, she likes to read, try out different cuisines, or embark on outdoor adventures.

Sustainable travel shouldn't just be a trend; it should be a new normal in today's world. But, where do we begin? We set out the list of ways how you can travel more responsibly and sustainably in 2023.

What Is Sustainable Travel?

What Is Sustainable Travel?

According to the World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism is "tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities."

Sustainable travel could be named as an antonym to "over-tourism", which describes a situation where an excessive number of tourists visit a popular destination resulting in damaging the local environment and disrupting the well-being of its local residents.

How Can You Travel More Sustainably?

Traveling more sustainably is easy. If you want to become a more conscious traveler, there are several ways in which you can adapt your behavior, from using fewer plastics to choosing a more sustainable travel destination.

7 Ways to Travel More Sustainably

1. Plan a longer vacation

travelers planning trip and writing on map

Friends planning a trip

It is clear that air travel contributes greatly to air pollution, and it is very difficult to avoid flying while traveling. But there are several ways to reduce your carbon footprint. One of them is planning a longer vacation. How does it work? Instead of taking dozen of flights per year, travel once or twice per year, but longer. Why not exchange a long weekend in Paris for a 2-week trip around Europe? A lot of great memories are guaranteed. Plus, you'll be flying maybe twice instead of 12 times!

2. Avoid single-use plastics

man holding thermos bottle in mountains

Man standing at viewpoint and holding thermos bottle

We are all already familiar with the downside of plastics. Even though the hotel chains and other travel companies are doing their best to switch plastics into more sustainable materials, there is something you can do right now. Travel with your own reusable water bottle, ditch the plastic bags at the supermarket, and try to bring your own cutlery and metal straw, if possible.

3. Leave nothing other than footprints

man camping in  Iceland inside car rooftop tent

A man camping in a car roof top tent mounted in Hofn camping site, Iceland

You probably heard this before, but respecting nature is the essence of responsible travel. Local environments are often fragile, and touristic activity can easily harm its wildlife or the natural landscape. Camp only at the places it is permitted to camp, respect the boundaries and rules defined by local authorities, and be careful not to leave any rubbish behind. Be especially mindful while visiting national parks and nature reserves as the environment there tends to be extremely fragile.

woman picking trash from ground into garbage bag

A woman picking up the bottles and cans outdoors

4. Choose a sustainable travel destination

Try to avoid destinations that suffer from over-tourism and choose destinations with good sustainability credentials. Iceland is among the world's most sustainable countries with almost 100% of electricity provided by renewable energy. Although, as in many countries, Iceland has suffered from over-tourism. Try to travel during the off-season when the crowds tend to be smaller, so you can enjoy nature and local culture to the fullest.

Panoramic view of Kirkjufell mountain in Iceland

Scenic view of Kirkjufell Mountain in Iceland

5. Choose green travel experiences

Make sure that the experiences and activities you partake in while traveling have a positive impact on the local economy and well-being of locals. Are the animals treated ethically? Is the money going back to the local economy? Are people being paid fair wages? These and other factors should be considered while booking any activity.

Arctic Adventures is a local tours operator in Iceland that contributes not only to the local economy but to the well-being of both nature and people. We have planted over 10,000 trees which helped to offset 46% of yearly CO2 emissions. Check out our sustainability page to learn more.

6. Choose eco-friendly transportation

Whenever it's possible, choose a more eco-friendly means of transportation. Flying to some destinations might be unavoidable, but you can choose a more sustainable way to move around the country. Switch cars to trains or other public transportation. If you do decide to rent a car, choose a more economic model, or ideally, an electrical one.

young woman with backpack walking in train station

A woman standing at train station platform

Arctic Adventures is gradually renewing its vehicle fleet with 100% electric cars in order to lower CO2 emissions. For example, in 2019 alone, our fleet was extended with three 100% electric cars, which helped to lower our yearly emissions by 50.8 tons of CO2.

Electric van in Iceland

Electric van by Arctic Adventures

7. Support local businesses

Some local businesses, like family-run souvenir shops and restaurants, rely on tourism for their living. Choose smaller hotels or B&B's over big hotel chains. Dine at the local restaurants where you will not only support small businesses but also get a real taste of their local food.

tourists looking at local Icelandic souvenirs

Tourists buying local souvenirs at the Christmas market in Iceland

During our multi-day tours, we try to visit small local businesses, so our guests can purchase handmade souvenirs and try real local food. Learn more on our sustainability page.

Traveling more consciously may seem daunting at first, especially if you're used to traveling differently. But the sooner you try it, the sooner you'll notice the beauty of traveling with consideration. In the end, Earth is only one planet, and we all have to share it.

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