Samantha Brown's Top Tips For More Sustainable Travel

Travel expert and enthusiast Samantha Brown has won two Emmys for her work on PBS' "Samantha Brown's Places to Love." Before that, she made her name on the Travel Channel's "Great Hotels," where she was one of the first women to host a nationally broadcasted travel show, per People. She has made her way to over 62 countries around the globe and visited over 250 cities, so she knows a thing or two about travel, and she often shares her travel hacks and tips on her website, like the best practices for flying with children or how to book your tickets.

With that much experience under her belt, she also knows a thing or two about traveling sustainably, especially since the climate crisis isn't going away. In fact, the travel industry (which is made up of flights, hotels, car rentals, tour groups, and more) is said to be responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions, which is quite significant. Brown has come up with some travel hacks and tips to reduce your individual carbon footprint when you travel, and some of them might even simplify your plans, expand your horizons, and make your trip much more memorable.

Eat local rather than at a franchise restaurant

Brown says sustainable travel might be easier than you think if you're open to new ways of doing things and going out of your comfort zone. And that might mean eschewing the familiar restaurant franchises. Sure, when you're hungry and you've got kids in tow, sometimes you just want to stick with what will make everyone happy, but eating at the TGI Friday's or KFC abroad might not be the most sustainable thing. Brown writes, "Not only does supporting local businesses directly benefit the communities you're visiting, but it's also an even better way to get a truly authentic experience." She adds that eating at big franchise chains barely benefits the local economy, whereas the money spent at Mom-and-Pop shops will stay within the community. 

Also, wouldn't it be nice to actually try some local delicacies or dishes? Isn't that one of the reasons to travel – to experience things you can't back home? Brown writes for AAA, "Mom-and-pop shops may not always be the fanciest or have lists of awards hanging up on their walls, but you can guarantee good food and an even better atmosphere." Another benefit of eating locally is the food is fresher, and it has less of an impact on the environment since ingredients don't have to be shipped or transported long-distance.

Avoiding air travel can reduce carbon emissions

Another one of Samantha Brown's tried and true tips for sustainable travel is to put away your carry-on luggage, get rid of your little plastic bag of liquids under 100mls, and forget airplane travel altogether. Instead, Brown writes that you should seriously consider what's known as "overland" travel. You know what that means: road trip!  Yes, it turns out that if you're only going a short distance (between 300-500 miles away) and traveling with others, staying on the ground produces less carbon emissions than a flight. As long as you're traveling with three other people (yes, children count), driving, taking the bus, or hopping on a train is more sustainable than flying. 

Brown also adds that choosing overland travel allows you to explore those hidden gems along the way you would normally fly over. While a flight from New York City to Austin, Texas, would get you to your destination in a few short hours, you would miss swinging by Elvis' Graceland, historical Gettysburg, or even the White House. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, "It's not the destination, it's the journey." That's true for travel, but in this case, it's also true for saving the planet.