By Ensemble Travel Group · June 2022
Traveling sustainably and responsibly sounds great in theory, but it’s common to feel overwhelmed by trying to do so. The options seem endless, and it’s hard to know which companies are genuine and who’s truly “walking the walk.” One key way to ensure you’re making the best decisions is to consult a professional travel advisor, so we chatted with Bronwen Hill, an Ensemble travel advisor, to learn the ins and outs of sustainable and responsible travel.
Q: What does “traveling sustainably and responsibly” mean for travelers?
As a global community, we must work together to protect each other. Traveling sustainably and responsibly is about making choices to respect the destination(s) you are visiting. It is about protecting cultural sites, keeping the air clean, and ensuring natural landscapes are as beautiful in 50 years as they are today. Traveling sustainably and responsibly is also about learning from each other, respecting on another, and ensuring the destination(s) we visit benefit financially from our visits.
I, personally, don’t want travelers coming to my community, my home, and leaving it worse than when they came. I and we, as travelers, need to consider our impact when we travel to a destination. Let’s ensure we keep our dollars in that community, let’s support local programs that support the community, and let’s remember that the sights we visit are also important to the local people. We must travel in a way that allows the local community to continue to enjoy it long after we have left. Simply put, making thoughtful and respectful choices is what traveling responsibly means.
Q: Why is traveling sustainably and responsibly so important?
The benefits gained by traveling sustainably and responsibly is what makes it so important. Our considered choices contribute to enhanced lifestyles for both the destination hosts and the visitors. It allows us to learn from one another and form a mutual respect.
Q: How can travel advisors help their clients travel sustainably?
As travel advisors, we are able to educate and guide our clients. The presentations we make to our clients (verbally or written) influences the choices our clients make for their travel experience. Presenting sustainable and responsible itineraries to our clients demonstrates to them that it is possible to make the shift from corporate/mass experiences to local ones.
Q: For travelers hoping to offset / carbon-neutralize their travel, what do you recommend?
Pick a program that speaks to you. Trees4Travel and Cool Effect are two programs that have a similar mission but achieve it in different ways. We need both programs in order to offset our total greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). By having various programs with a particular focus, that means they do it well. Pick the one that speaks to you and offset there. You may choose different programs for different types of travel you participate in, and that is ok.
Q: Can travelers travel sustainably/responsibly no matter what mode of travel they’re partaking in (e.g., airplane, cruise, hotel, etc.)?
Yes. Some travel styles are definitely better choices than others, but it’s about the choices you make. The company you travel with, the food you eat, the activities you choose to partake in, and the way you present yourself as a traveler all matters. By choosing sustainable and responsible travel options, we are proving what is important to us, and we are creating the change that needs to happen.
Q: Which destinations do you feel are best suited for a sustainable vacation?
Destinations that have a management plan in place are the best suited. These destinations know their capacity, and they have guidelines in place for protecting cultural and natural sites. They are working with local businesses and organizations to ensure the community is benefiting from the tourism that happens in their location, and they are promoting modes of transportation that significantly reduce GHGs.
Q: BONUS: Is there anything else you’d like travelers to know about traveling sustainably and responsibly?
Make incremental changes one trip at a time. Instead of choosing the cheapest flight available, choose the non-stop flight. You will have more time at the destination and less airport “kafuffle.” Stay centrally located so you can walk to attractions or take public transit. Choose restaurants that have their own garden or buy local, in season produce. Choose accommodations that utilize environmentally considerate cleaning products. Incremental changes ensure that making the switch to more sustainable and responsible travel isn’t overwhelming.
Fore more information, speak with your Ensemble travel advisor about your travel options.
Please send us a message if you have any questions or comments about anything you see in the e-zine. We’d love to hear from you!