Eagerly awaiting the annual holiday. Who doesn't know that? Travelling and holidays stand for adventure, relaxation and many new discoveries. However, we cannot ignore the fact that tourism also harms the environment and destroys what we actually love so much. Our CO2 emissions increase drastically due to the often long journeys to and from the destination, and the resources we use on site also influence our ecological footprint.
However, this does not mean that we should not travel and discover new cultures! In many places, tourism is an important livelihood for local people and helps us to learn more and more about and understand our environment. Here we show ways and possibilities to travel more sustainably and responsibly while minimising the effect on the environment and respective culture. We have compiled the best tips for you here.
1. clarify your expectations
Before you jump online to plan your trip, take some time to think about what you want from your trip. A local adventure or exotic cultures, a programme full of action and fun or relaxation? You don't always have to travel far for a great holiday - because Germany also has wonderful corners and sights to offer: From the kilometre-long dune landscape on Amrum to the Mecklenburg Lake District and the Alpine region in the south, there is something for every holidaymaker. Once you have clarified your expectations for your holiday, you can better decide where to go. The general rule is: if you stay close by, the journey will be shorter and the climate better. Travelling far away is more harmful to the climate, but certain cultures can only be experienced at a distance.
2. choose your means of transport consciously
The desired destination for the next holiday has been chosen - but how to get there? Do you know how much CO2 is produced by which means of transport? Choose your means of transport carefully. Of course, travelling by plane or car is comfortable, but if you want to travel sustainably, it is better to use public transport or, in the best case, the bicycle. The best CO2 balance (apart from the bicycle) is achieved by coach or train. Which of these means of transport comes out on top depends on the electricity mix of the train, or whether the coach is fully occupied. Cars and, above all, planes have the worst record. Flying can be avoided? Then avoid travelling by plane for the sake of the environment!
If you decide to take the train, you can book in good time to save money and, in comparison with your own car, travel by train or coach is cheaper in terms of price and CO2 emissions. Often, train or bus can also be combined with a bicycle: In many ICEs, it is possible to take a bicycle with you by making a reservation.
Can't avoid flying or driving? Then offset your flight or car journey in high-quality myclimate carbon offset projects.
3. stay as long as possible
If you long for foreign cultures that can only be reached by plane, you can put your CO2 emissions into perspective by staying as long as possible on site. This way you only have to travel once instead of exhausting your ecological footprint with long journeys three times a year. Staying longer in one place also gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture. So why not do some work and travel or help out at a regional aid organisation?
4. Spend time with the locals
If you want to experience a country and its culture, the best way is to get involved in the life of the locals. Get to know the perfect city guide while couchsurfing. Use public transport. Go to the market or visit the charming restaurant where the nonna still cooks herself. This way you support the local people and fill your travel backpack with valuable and unique experiences at the same time.
5. Search for Sustainable Accommodation
When choosing accommodation, particular attention can be paid to sustainable aspects: Are local and certified organic foods used in the catering? Is green energy used in the hotel or perhaps even generated by the hotel itself? Are environmentally friendly and recyclable products used? How is the water and waste management and were local and sustainable materials used in the construction of the accommodation?
There are now many labels that stand for sustainable tourism: For Europe, for example, these are the European Ecolabel, the Blue Swallow, Viabono or the Green Sign. Worldwide, you can look for labels such as Green Globe, Green Key or Biosphere Tourism. In general, it is better to support owner-managed accommodation rather than large hotel chains. Basically, the simpler the accommodation, the better the carbon footprint.
There are some portals that specialise in sustainable accommodation. You are sure to find what you are looking for here:
- Bookitgreen.de: Here you can search for accommodation across Europe that meets 15 sustainability criteria.
- ecotravia.de: Bietet Unterkünfte, die nach nachhaltigen Standards betrieben werden.
- Biohotels.info: Those who appreciate good food in organic quality will find their land of milk and honey here! Biohotels.info lists hotels that use certified organic food mainly from regional production.
- forumandersreisen.de: Are you not only interested in sustainability, but also in the social component of travel? Then you will find over 100 tour operators in this forum who have specialised in environmentally friendly and socially responsible tourism.
- Goodtravel.de: If you are looking for inspiring, authentic and sustainable accommodation for your holiday, goodtravel is the right address. From eco-studios to camping in a yurt to holiday accommodation in a former mill, it's all here!
- Renatour.de: The site focuses on green tourism for the whole family. The focus is on nature-oriented travel.
- Viabono.de: Through this website you can find sustainable hotels and accommodation with Viabono certification in Germany. The certification is an award for environmentally and climate-friendly travel that takes into account the key figures for final energy, CO2, water and residual waste in the accommodation.
- wirsindanderswo.de: The Elsewhere Manifesto shows alternatives to conventional tourism, specialising in sustainable tourism. There are exciting holiday ideas that deviate from the usual tourist paths.
Germany and Austria: www.greentable.org/restaurants