2020 changed the way we travel. The days of rushed packing for spontaneous trips to far-flung places, the adrenaline rush of booking a last minute deal, taking a break from hours of walking to feel the coolness of ice cream cutting the midday heat — all became memories of the past, and blurry dreams we’d love to experience again soon.
And as our travels have become more limited, we’ve also become more conscious in our approach. Is it safe to travel to our desired destination? Is it ethical to travel at all? What will travel and tourism look like in a post-pandemic world? More than half of survey respondents said that when travel does reopen, they’ll want it to be as part of “a more responsible and resilient tourism industry.” But what would that really look like?
An evolving definition: What will sustainable travel really mean in 2021?
For many travel lovers, sustainable travel is no longer just about opting for the eco-friendly options, keeping your used hotel towels off the floor to minimise the hotel’s laundry load, or taking your keycard out of the little light switch when you leave your room. As our areas of concern have evolved from the planet to include our collective health, our definition of what it means to be a responsible and conscious traveller is also evolving, and will look different in 2021.
8 Ways to become a more conscious and sustainable traveller in 2021
1. Minimise your travel carbon footprint, or at least compensate for it
Ensure your journey’s carbon emissions are being accounted for and reduced through a calculator like the one provided by CHOOOSE. Calculate the emissions from flights, ground transportation, and even accommodation, and put it towards some of the best climate projects around the world. Responsible and sustainable travel is important to us, so our members have an option to offset their carbon travel footprint and receive a certificate every time they book.
If you’re renting a car, opt for greener options with companies offering electric transport options like UFO Drive. Bidroom members get an additional 15% discount on any car rentals that help the planet.
2. Don’t follow the crowd
When we dream of travel, often the mind goes to the big cities, the ‘idolised’ destinations, the places that we’ve dropped a mental pin in thanks to overtourism. But, if we stretch our curiosity and go beyond outdated and old-school views of tourism, we discover that the town next door, or the 10th largest city in the country, or the cute village a little further out are exactly the experiences we crave.
Even if we don’t realise it, this is a way of engaging in more sustainable tourism. The industries in the smaller places reap the benefits, and the locals usually agree: the more you stray from big tourist hotspots, the closer you get to the real side of their country.
In the National Geographic’s Top Travel Trends for 2020 report, travellers were predicted to favour “microcations” rather than long-haul trips in order to manage their environmental impact. Especially given the way this year has shaped travel, we expect to see further growth in destinations which experience undertourism in 2021, a curiosity for the spots right under our nose.
Go off the beaten track to The Manor Elstree in Elstree, Risley Hall Hotel in Risley, Sunset View, Host & Stay in Whitby, or Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa in Aberfoyle, where we’ve negotiated unique deals for our members.
3. Surround yourself with nature
Opting for next-best-place tourism means you’re more likely to be surrounded by more green—literally. Step into nature, breathe in that clean, fresh air without worrying about all the fuss and crowds in the city. Enjoy the luscious, leafy views that the more distant locations provide.
The Esplanade Hotel in Scarborough is equipped with seafront views and a beach, perfect for immersing yourself in nature.
4. Bring your furry friends along
Book where you can bring your pets to travel too, rather than having to sit out on plans or fork out for someone to watch them while you’re away. Studies show that 78% of owners and their four-legged friends are driving and flying together more now than ever before, so it’s a growing trend within the industry to allow pets onsite.
5. Explore the world of boutique hotels
While travelling to bigger cities, one way to book responsibly is by supporting smaller boutique hotels. They can’t rely on the support of worldwide recognisability that comes with big chains, or the increased foot traffic that comes from more central locations, so your money is really appreciated there, and you’ll usually be able to feel that during your stay.
In a boutique hotel, you can expect your experience to be more luxurious, unique, and more likely to be customised to your preferences; so there’s definitely a payoff for you too. L’Oscar Hotel in Mayfair London, Cheval The Edinburgh Grand and Cheval Knightsbridge in London offer our members a great rate.
6. Get better value for your money
People often associate an emptier wallet with sustainable travel, but that’s really just a myth. When you avoid booking your hotel through big corporations that are just not sustainable in terms of the industry’s future, you find you can actually get better deals by negotiating with hotels directly, or by shopping through a travel club.
Our members get better prices on hotels, up to 25% lower than on other online platforms. Enjoy the perks that come with membership, like welcome cocktails or complimentary breakfast. Take advantage of discounts on hotel services and partner deals that enhance your experience.
7. Go with the flow thanks to flexible policies on cancellation
With the travel climate we’re in at the moment, being afforded flexibility with booking and cancellations is the only way to go forward. After this past year, travelling consciously means keeping in mind that as much as we can plan, we can’t control all the outcomes. And even though we’re in charge of our own decisions, we’ve been reminded that sometimes, other factors can change our plans for us.
When you book through Bidroom, hotel booking conditions and refund policies are easy to spot, so you can confirm your bookings knowing exactly what you’re signing up for.
8. Choose hotels with environmentally friendly initiatives
Try to look out for the hotels that are making the more sustainable efforts to look out for their environmental footprint. One way to do this is to check they’ve been certified by specialists who are dedicated to ensuring eco-friendly standards are upheld in the industry.
Look out for the Green Key logo when you book. It means the property meets a high environmental standard of excellence approved by the Foundation for Environmental Education.
This year has changed and shaped the way we live, we’ve had to adapt and we still are adapting. The same goes for travel. The way we define sustainability in the world of travel has evolved so much since it’s come into the mainstream, and the way we move as conscious travellers will continue to change as a result. That will take time and effort, but luckily, we know where we can start.
Be a sustainable traveller with Bidroom. Join our club for access to better hotel deals, with up 25% lower prices than anywhere else online. We negotiate directly with hotels, so you get better deals with extra add-ons from hotels. Complimentary drinks? Free room upgrades? Yes please! Get additional discounts, gifts, and travel extras from our partners.