Sustainability might not be the first thing on your mind when you book a holiday... 

... but having a sustainable holiday might actually result in a better experience as it could mean getting more involved in the local community of your chosen destination.

Here are some top tips when you're looking for your next holiday destination:

Research your destination

You’ll likely find out interesting things about the local climate and culture, about great things to see and do in the destination and maybe even pick up a few words of the local language (this is normally really appreciated by locals).

Make the travel part of the holiday

There are an increasing number of destinations which are accessible by different modes of transport from the UK.

Consider taking the train to destinations that are accessible through high speed rail links and ask your travel provider for details on this. However, just because you fly it doesn’t mean your holiday is unsustainable.

There are huge socio-economic benefits brought in by tourism and so the drawbacks of flying should always be weighed up against the benefits tourism brings to local communities.

Choose a hotel that has a Travelife award

The Travelife Sustainability System is a scheme that works around the world to help hotels to best manage the impacts they have on the environment and on culture.

The top performing hotels receive an award level of Gold, Silver or Bronze depending on how well they perform and are then indicated with the logos in tour operators’ brochures and websites.

Travelife hotels are doing great things to help ensure you have a better holiday. If you want to find out more, visit www.travelifecollection.com.

Explore your surroundings

When you’re in the destination make sure you get out and explore your surroundings.

Speak to your tour operator, travel agent or the hotel staff to find out about the must-see sites and great things to do and see how you can work them into your holiday plans.

Will it be a morning on the beach followed by an afternoon market visit where you pick up the perfect gifts or treat yourself? Or maybe a day of pampering and then a delicious dinner at a local restaurant where you excite your taste buds after relaxing your senses.

Play your part

Many of us are now doing things in our daily lives that help to ensure we have a lower impact on the world around us – whether it's recycling at home, for example, or sharing a lift to work. There's a range of simple things that we can all do to help play our part whilst on holiday too, such as:

  • Saving water - in many holiday destinations water is a scarcer resource than it is in the UK so try to remember this and perhaps try taking shorter showers.
  • Turn electrical items off when not in use just as you would do at home.
  • Leave packaging at home - if there is no recycling availability within the destination you’ll make sure you can recycle packaging and will also be carrying less weight in your luggage.
  • Use local public transport in the destination - this is usually a great way to see more of the destination. Speak to your tour operator or hotel for tips on how to get around.

Take care of the local animals

Not all countries look after animals in the same way that we do in the UK.

While there are lots of great and educational animal attractions, think twice about participating in activities that might distress an animal and avoid souvenirs made of animal parts as this can contribute to illegal poaching.

ABTA and its Members are doing a lot of work to improve standards worldwide but we need your help – please report it to your travel company if you see animals that appears to be being mistreated in a tourism attraction.

Buy local

Treat yourself to something – go on, you’ve earned it! But make sure it’s something locally made. This way, not only will you have the perfect item, but you’ll have a feel-good factor too, knowing that your purchase has helped make a difference to someone in the destination.

Bargaining’s a big part of purchasing in many cultures so have fun with it but make sure that you pay a price that's fair for both you and the seller. And don’t be shy of asking questions of where the item was made and what materials it’s made from.

Try to steer clear of products made from animal parts or plants.

Ask your tour operator what they are doing

Whether it’s during the booking process, before you go, whilst there or when you get back, ask your travel provider what they’re doing to help ensure we can have better holidays for many years to come.

Many in the travel and tourism industry are taking action, not only because it’s the right thing to do but because it helps make holidays even better.

Find out about what the company does by asking questions and allow this to inform your decision.

“I had a better holiday” – spread the word

When you’re back and you tried some or all of the above and you had a better holiday, share your experiences with friends and families and help them to have a better holiday next time they travel.