Sustainability is often misunderstood to be a purely environmental term, but in reality it has a broad scope that encompasses continued balance in environmental, social, and economic terms. While travel can never truly be a zero-impact endeavour, sustainable travel, and related concepts, aim to minimize these impacts. On the other hand, ecotourism is a branch of travel that utilizes sustainable travel principles, with more of a focus on environmental protection.
“Ecotourism” and “sustainable travel” bring to mind visions of safaris in African plains, and rainforest trekking in the wilds of Central America, but the terms can encompass many different activities all over the world. You don’t have to camp out in the wilderness to make your travel more sustainable (though this is definitely an exciting option), but choose less impactful options to help sustain the area in a multitude of ways. You don’t have to shell out all your money on a hotel or tour because they claim to be “sustainably certified,” and if you do, you’d better do your research on it first. You don’t have to spend all your money on carbon offsets (unless you want to, but don’t use this as an easy way to go “carbon-neutral”).
Here are some tips, and some ideas for vacation destinations across Canada:
1. Vacation closer to home.
2. When you do have to fly, try to choose the most direct route possible, fly during the day (studies have shown that daytime flight has less environmental impacts), pack light, and fly economy. You can also consider purchasing carbon offsets to account for admissions from your flight. Twenty hours of flying can be offset with around $200, depending on what projects you choose to support.
4. Get off the beaten path.
5. Research before you book
Travel suggestions within Canada:
Major Cities: St. John’s, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Moncton, Charlottetown.
Major Cities: Toronto*, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina.
Major Cities: Edmonton, Calgary, Victoria, Vancouver.
Major Cities: Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Iqaluit
(Thanks to Tim for helping me pick out some Canadian destinations! Visit his blog here: timgobrien.com)