With going green on the rise, cities across the world are attempting to become more sustainable. That’s great news for the green traveler because it means your options are constantly expanding. But it’s not always easy to tell if a city is really cleaning up its act, or if it’s just for show.
Here are 7 things to consider when choosing a green travel destination.
1. Check Public Transportation Options
If your destination is a city that you’ll want to explore extensively, make sure there is a good public transportation system so you won’t have to take cabs or rent a car. Most cities have decent websites about their public transportation systems. You can also check travel forums and talk to other travelers who have been where you’re going. Better yet, rent a bike and use it as your primary means of transportation.
2. Look for Greener Accommodations
Choosing a low-impact place to stay is not only greener, it’s often less expensive. If the weather is nice, look for camping options. Otherwise, make sure there are hostels. If you’re looking at hotels, research the country’s hotel energy/environmental standards, then find a hotel that meets those guidelines. For more info check out Finding Environmentally Friendly Hotels through Green Accreditation Directories.
3. Scope Out the Area for Green Space
Are there nice parks in the town, or at least within walking or biking distance? What about lakes and hiking trails? There’s nothing better than waking up in the morning and walking out the hostel door onto a hiking trail. Of course, that’s not easy to do in all places. But if you love the outdoors, make sure your destination has options for green recreation.
photo credit: celesteh
4. Think About Walkability
Will you be able to walk from your hostel to restaurants and entertainment? If the town is spread out, see if there’s a concentration of places you want to see, then book a hostel near those places to make your trip more walkable. Walking is one of the easiest ways to reduce your impact.
5. Look at Chains Versus Local Business and Restaurants
Are there a number of local businesses you could visit? Or is the city overrun with McDonald’s and KFCs? Going to local grocery stores and restaurants is one of the easiest ways to immerse yourself in local culture. And part of the fun of traveling is experience new things, which is hard to do if you stick to what you know and what’s available back home.
6. Check Out the City’s Recycling Policy
With all of the plastic building up in landfills across the world, a solid recycling policy is increasingly urgent. Even some small towns and villages recycle, so pick a destination that has a policy in place. If you really want to visit a place that doesn’t recycle, avoid buying plastic and other recyclables while you’re there; stick to reusable items instead.
7. Decide if You’ll Really Get to Experience the Culture
A big part of being a green traveler is striving to understand different people, cultures, and history. On the surface, it seems that traveling inherently facilitates cultural understanding. In reality, it’s far too easy to live in a bubble, even when you’re traveling. See if your destination is one that seems to exist exclusively to cater to tourists. If it is, pass it up and look for something that will get you out of your comfort zone and into the culture of your destination.
Not sure where to start? Check out our list of Top Green Cities: Where to Travel Green.
What else do you consider when you’re deciding on a green travel destination?