There’s an unspoken term that is often on the back of any eco-conscious travelers’ mind. While talking to friends about their incredible hike up Machu Picchu, that eight-day trek to climb Kilimanjaro, or even the relaxing beach vacation in San Diego, we are all hoping that no one asks the dreaded question. “Yes, but what is your carbon footprint?”
With most of the world taking a break from air travel over the last year, carbon emissions significantly decreased. How do we maintain this trend and focus on ethical travel and better environmental practices now that travel is sure to pick up again soon?
Before you travel to a new spot, learn a bit about the history, culture, and holidays celebrated in the area. Read books, find online forums, and ask questions. Not only will you foster a deeper appreciation and understanding for the place you are traveling, but you will be able to engage in deeper conversations with locals that you encounter. Knowing a bit about the place you are traveling to shows that you respect the people and the culture who live there.
This one should be easy! Maybe you already plan your trips around where you might find the best street food (is anyone else with me on this?). But if not, purchasing food from the local vendors and small, locally-owned restaurants is one of the best ways to develop a serious appreciation for the place you are traveling. Food is such a large part of the culture in many places around the world. So you’ve never had a pupusa as big as your head in Guatemala? Now is your chance. Hot tip: Look for the food cart with the longest line. That’s typically your best bet.
Support local artisans
You’re looking for the perfect gift for friends and family back home. You want something that captures the essence of the place you have been traveling for the last few weeks. Something that you can bring home as a reminder of your time spent here.
So do not wait until the last minute and buy something at the airport gift shop. Seek out local artisans and learn about their crafts. When you invest in a piece of art, be it a small bowl or a handmade rug, you support the community of artisans who are representing their culture with the crafts they are creating.
Offset carbon emissions
Carbon emissions are one of the leading factors that contribute to climate change, and, unfortunately, air travel is a significant source of carbon emissions. I’m not suggesting that you take a boat from New York to London, but there are ways that you can offset the carbon emissions that are produced by those flights you’re taking.
Some companies specialize in calculating how much carbon is produced by the number of miles that you fly each year. Figure out your number, and you can make a tax-deductible donation to offset your carbon footprint. It’s part of the process of becoming more focused on green travel.
Minimize your travel footprint
When you arrive in a new spot, set out on foot to explore the area. Travel at a slower pace, give yourself time to wander around, stop into shops, and venture off into different neighborhoods without a set plan. By walking, you’ll minimize your carbon footprint while learning about new gems that you might not have found if you’d taken the bus through town.
Hire local tour guides
One of the critical components of ethical travel is supporting the local population of the area in which you are traveling. Ecotourism has enormous financial benefits to areas that are rich with natural beauty and outdoor activities. When you’re visiting one of these places, ask around to find out what guides the locals recommend. You’ll be guaranteed a much more exciting adventure when you hire a local guide to explore the area. These guides typically know the best-kept secret spots that the larger touring companies don’t have access to. And they will often share their knowledge of the history of the area as well.
Consider a homestay
Many places across the globe will offer a homestay to travelers looking to immerse themselves in daily life in the place they are staying. A homestay typically involves matching with a local family who will provide lodging and meals. Many times this is an extra bedroom in their house with a shared bathroom. Meals are prepared and served with the rest of the family.
If you’re interested in learning the local recipes, ask if you can help in the kitchen. A homestay is genuinely one of the best ways to integrate into daily life and learn the language in the place you are traveling. Homestays also provide a local family with a bit of extra income.
Reduce your use of plastic
One of the largest sources of pollution and waste is the excessive use of plastic around the world. There are a few easy things that you can do to help reduce the amount of plastic in circulation. To start, bring your own water bottle. This can help you to avoid purchasing multiple disposable plastic bottles. If you are traveling in an area where it’s not advisable to drink tap water, consider purchasing a SteriPEN to keep with you.
A SteriPEN (or another comparable brand) will kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing you to drink water from the tap safely. Another easy way to reduce your plastic consumption is to bring reusable bags with you when you travel. Carrying a few canvas bags is an easy way to pass on the plastic (and helps you fit all of those extra purchases you made that don’t quite fit in your luggage).
Part of the beauty of travel is that you can choose the line that you take. Ethical travel requires a bit more intention during the planning process and beyond. It is a bit of a shift in mindset for some people. By incorporating these travel tips into your next trip, you will be on your way to supporting sustainable travel and engaging more with the local culture, resulting in an enriched experience.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
Why we like it
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of our top credit cards for both beginners and frequent travelers. It comes with a huge welcome bonus, solid ongoing points earning on bonus categories and some great travel perks. The travel perks like delayed baggage and flight insurance will easily cover the already reasonable annual fee of $95. It earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points which is one of the best flexible points currencies: you can transfer to a number of travel partners like Hyatt and United, easily redeem for any type of travel through the Chase portal where you’ll get 25% bonus or even earn straight cash back.
Who is it best for?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is great for just about anyone. It’s large welcome bonus makes it easy to get immediate value and you’ll easily rack up points with its broad bonus categories, earning double points on all travel and dining purchases. Chase points allow for easy redemptions made through the Chase Travel Portal, which allows you to book any sort of travel with no blackout dates, and you’ll get better value from your points compared to other bank’s travel portals.
Credit Score Recommended
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Good to Excellent
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
- Valuable sign up bonus
- Flexible points
- Unique transfer partners like Hyatt and United
- Great travel and trip delay insurance
- $95 annual fee
- Ongoing points earning is lower compared to other cards
- 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel.
- 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
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