As the world slowly (but surely) reopens for travelers, we’re seeing more people booking trips. According to Tripadvisor’s Travel in 2022 report, about 71% of Americans say they’re likely to travel for leisure this year. And fortunately, many travelers are planning their trips with the planet in mind.
A recent travel survey found more than 87% of Americans believe sustainable travel is either somewhat important or very important. (And that 87% represents approximately 225 million people.) We’re also seeing younger generations stepping up to the plate when it comes to sustainable travel.
A 2020 survey revealed that both Gen Z and millennial travelers are more concerned with the importance of eco-friendly travel than other generations. Furthermore, as of March 2021, about 81% of travelers said they plan on staying somewhere with eco-friendly accommodations in 2022.
This attention in sustainable travel is desperately needed. On a global scale, transportation accounts for 15-20% of annual emissions. While it can be difficult to see how traveling can be considered sustainable, changes are being made that are transforming the industry for the better.
Traveling by plane is the least sustainable way to travel, according to our research. Airplanes require a lot of fuel, so it makes sense that they’re serious polluters. Luckily, some airlines are striving toward sustainability.
Virgin Atlantic has been making eco-friendly moves since 2008, and the airline has a goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. United Airlines is experimenting with plant-based fuel, which could be a game-changer in the name of travel emissions. And Delta is committed to carbon neutrality, with a budget of over $30 million to help offset 13 million metric tons of Delta’s 2020 emissions.
Booking the most eco-friendly flight possible is also becoming easier for travelers. Last year, Google Flights launched a feature that tells fliers the carbon emissions associated with each flight. And that’s not all Google is doing. Travelers who decide to take road trips can check out an eco-friendly navigation feature in Google Maps. You can also search for eco-certified hotels on Google Hotels.
In terms of lodging, it’s no secret that luxury hotels create a significant amount of waste and use a significant amount of energy. Not to mention, hotels have massive carbon and water footprints. Hence, in 2018, the UN teamed up with the hotel industry to reduce global hotel emissions.
Today, Airbnb is committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030, working toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with global corporate operations. And the world’s first-ever net-zero carbon hotel, room2, opened in Chiswick, West London in December. The hotel is expected to be “89% more energy efficient than the typical UK hotel” per square meter.
Other hotels are adopting eco-friendly initiatives such as recycling programs, low-energy suites, and utilizing local cuisine in their restaurants. Every small change adds up to a big difference.
Plus, the search for sustainable lodging is getting easier. See EcoHotels, a hotel booking agency that plants a tree for each reservation. The website checks every hotel listed, so travelers know each accommodation has accredited eco-friendly options. VeggieHotels is another great resource with vegan-friendly and green lodging: hotels, B&Bs, motels, and wellness accommodations that keep everything as natural as possible.
From airlines to lodging accommodations, there are several options to think about when it comes to booking an eco-friendly vacation. Luckily, these eco-innovations will make the process easier.
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