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How to Increase Your Travel Sustainability

What we need to do to keep travel sustainable

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A close up view of three colourful bicycles in a bike rack

As the pandemic begins to clear and vaccines take hold, it’s perhaps time to look to the health of our planet as a whole. In the 20th and 21st centuries, we’ve had to acknowledge a few uncomfortable home truths: namely, that while the travel industry has been integral to our growth as a society, it has been harmful to our planet. That’s where travel sustainability comes in. It’s time we started looking at how our travels are causing problems to the planet. Here at Plum Guide, we've done extensive research to ensure that we have the best homes in top destinations around the planet. Ideally, you’ll be able to actually get to them without breaking the Earth. So, we’ve come up with a handy guide of how you can do sustainable luxury travel, and reduce your carbon footprint.

  • Consider travelling on land
  • Pack light and avoid plastic
  • Travel slow to reduce your carbon footprint
  • Support local businesses to do your bit
  • Stay in an eco-friendly home
  • Do your bit to improve the area

Consider travelling on land

An aerial view of a road winding through Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England, UK,

An aerial view of a road winding through Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England, UK,

Of course, air flight is one of the least sustainable modes of transport, so see if you can reach your destination on land. Sharing a car, riding by train, or taking a bus is far better for the environment, plus they can be more fun and interactive in some ways. For example, you get to see some of the countryside as you drive or ride through it, and can stop off at villages along the way - something that’d be somewhat difficult to do in a plane. You might be on your way from London to Cornwall, only to stop off for a few days in Devon or Somerset. You could see the Roman Baths and the Cheddar Gorge & Caves. That said, some destinations are pretty far away on land. For example, Google Maps estimates that traveling from London to Sydney in a car is ‘Sorry, we could not calculate driving directions’ hours away by road. That sounds like a long time to be in the car. At least they apologised. If you do opt for air travel, fly direct whenever possible and, if you can handle it, fly economy, where there is less space per passenger.

The Parish Stone, Plum Guide home in Somerset

The Parish Stone, Plum Guide home in Somerset

Pack light and avoid plastic

A man packing clothes into a small suitcase

A man packing clothes into a small suitcase

Pack light. For the vast majority, our homes are fully furnished and equipped for all your holiday needs. You’ll still need clothes and medication and what-not, of course. But the lighter your luggage, the lighter your carbon footprint. So, really consider if you absolutely have to bring your PlayStation to the Joshua Tree National Park. And perhaps best to leave your work-out weights behind too…many of our homes have gyms in them, or at least pools where you can get your fitness going. Meanwhile, make sure the very fabric you’re using to wrap up your belongings is not plastic. Plastic is a big no-no for optimum travel sustainability. Don’t be getting new plastic bags…although if you already have some old ones lying around the house, you might as well make use of them. Typically, many passengers not only start with plastic bags, but also amass more plastic in the form of drink bottles on each step of their trip. So, be aware of that whenever possible.

Sirius Star Rising, Plum Guide home in Joshua Tree

Sirius Star Rising, Plum Guide home in Joshua Tree

Travel slow to reduce your carbon footprint

A man enjoying the views as he walks over Tower Bridge at sunset, London, UK

A man enjoying the views as he walks over Tower Bridge at sunset, London, UK

It appears to be a little better for your carbon footprint if you stay for a long time in one place, rather than visiting many spots in a short period of time. You can really get to know a destination better by spending a good chunk of time there, as opposed to flittering through at break-neck speeds. Our homes in London, for example, make for a great base for visiting the British capital, which really does need a few weeks of exploration to fully appreciate. Once here, treat the home as you would your own (unless you’re exceedingly wasteful, that is). Consider whether you really need that fifth shower of the day or to wash your towel after each use.

Colour Charm, Plum Guide home in London, UK

Colour Charm, Plum Guide home in London, UK

Support local businesses to do your bit

An aerial view of people buying vegetables from a local at a food market

An aerial view of people buying vegetables from a local at a food market

Travel sustainability isn’t just about the environment. We also leave a social and economic impact on communities in the destinations we visit. By staying in homes owned by locals, you’re having a positive impact on the local economy and culture. Of course, avoiding large resorts that drain water and energy is also helpful for the planet, so it’s a triple whammy. Similarly, all-inclusive resorts discourage holidayers from using local tour guides and going out to eat at local restaurants. So, if you’re travelling through the Algarve, think about staying in one of our homes and getting to know the area better. Eat locally and reduce your so-called beer-mileage; that is, the amount of travelling that beer and other food and drink products are doing before they reach your lips.

For What It's Earth, Plum Guide Home in the Algarve, Portugal

For What It's Earth, Plum Guide Home in the Algarve, Portugal

Stay in an eco-friendly home

A close up view of large solar panels in a field

A close up view of large solar panels in a field

Travelling is more fun when you know you’re doing it well, so prolong the enjoyment even further by booking an eco-friendly home. We have a huge selection here at Plum Guide, with key sustainability features such as solar panels and energy-efficient light bulbs being prominent in our collection of environmentally friendly rentals. What’s the point of doing all you can to help the planet on your travels, if you go back to a damaging accommodation at the end of every day? Of course, there are things you can do at your accommodation that will help further, such as avoiding the tumble dryer or washing your clothes in cold water - look at you, saving the planet. Spend time outdoors, keep unnecessary electricity use to a minimum, and conserve water, all with the planet in mind. You would like to enjoy travel for a number of years yet, after all. Right?

Do your bit to improve the area

A close up view of a hand picking up a plastic water bottle

A close up view of a hand picking up a plastic water bottle

This one is applicable for anyone, in any place, at any time. Simply, help out. Whether that’s by donating to local charities, donating to food banks in the local area, or even just helping to pick up any litter you spot along your travels. Many tours will include an environmental donation in the original price, but further help to local communities is never going to be frowned upon (unless it means your kids don’t get an ice cream today. Then they might frown). Travelling sustainably is all about seeing the bigger picture as you go, and there’s nothing more selfless than contributing to a society that you don’t really know - every penny will help more than you realise, too. As we mentioned previously, doing your bit for the planet as you travel simply makes it more enjoyable, as you can wander around guilt-free, knowing that you’re doing everything in your power to make the world better. For everyone. That’s some feeling. Explore our collection of carefully selected homes.

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