We all love to travel, but what if there wasn’t a world to see anymore? I know that this might come off a little apocalyptic, but we have to think about our impact on the Earth, now more then ever. 2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, so, why not share some helpful travel hacks to reduce our impact on this planet. Some things, like carbon emissions from transport, simply can’t be avoided, but there are other choices that we can make individually that can save the world. If you have other suggestions, please, feel free to write them in the comments!
1. Fly less, Road Trip More
There are so many airlines that offer very cheap flights, but one of the worst things that we could do to our planet is abusing of this transport just to zigzag our way through a continent. Sure, planes are perfect if you need to get to a specific point in a short amount of time. But if you plan to tour Europe for example, there are better solutions for the environment, like train, buses or car sharing services. So road trip more and, as a reward, you’ll get to experience a whole new side of travelling and the Earth will thank you. Backpacking and camping are also a great way of doing the travel business in a greener way.
If flying is your only option, pick a direct flight. Eliminating layovers, will benefit both your mental sanity and the environment. In fact, the highest amount of fuel is used for takeoff and landing. Also, if you can choose between airlines, you might want to take a look at the fuel-efficiency ranking.
2. Make Greener Reservations
Another way to help the environment is to pick a eco-friendly hotel. There are many ways to find them. If you already have the name of the hotel where you wish to stay, then you can insert their address on Green Key global, which will give you sustainability ratings. However, if you’ve never looked much into eco-travelling, you can use an app called Green Globe, which lists eco-friendly accommodations.
The ideal lodging, if you are visiting a city, will be one located in the centre. That will allow you to walk around, use public transports or rent a bike.
3. Pack Less And Smart
Only bring with you the essential, the items that you’ll need for sure. Try to cut back on toiletries, because that usually takes up too much space. A great brand of toiletries is LUSH. In their packaging, they manage to reduce waste. Their shampoo bar, for example, is a great and plastic free! All of their products, like conditioner and soaps, also come in pakaging-free options for the greener souls. If you planning to do some shopping where you are going, a reusable bag will prove essential.
4. Bring a Reusable Bag… Everywhere
Reusable bags are your friends and, most importantly, they are friends of the Earth. Keep one with you and you’ll be very likely to use it in multiple occasions. Aside from carrying groceries in them, you could also use them as an emergency purse if you need to transport something, you never know. You may get some weird looks at the supermarket, sure, but who cares, you are doing the right thing. Plastic grocery bags are the worst when it comes to polluting; their impact on wildlife is horrible.
5. Use Self-Filtering Water Bottles
Plastic is the enemy number one of the environment, so please, let’s do something about it. If you are always thirsty like I am, you might spend a lot of money on water bottles while travelling. My advice is to bring a self filtering bottle like this one from Brita: you can fill it up in your hotel/hostel room for free! If I forget to bring one, I buy a large water bottle and I refill it as soon as I get the chance. Around once a week, I replace it to prevent bacterial growth.
6. Bring a Lunch Box/ Cutlery Set
A great solution to reduce food waste is to bring a lunch box with you. Helpful if you go to the restaurant for leftovers, or if you want to carry around what you cooked. Basically all restaurants don’t use eco-friendly packaging for leftovers, such as aluminum foil or plastic containers. A foldable silicone Tupperware can be a great solution and it won’t take up much space in your bag. Also, to go with your lunch box, bring a cutlery set, it can always come in handy. Some of the best sets you can find are wooden ones, and know that, by doing this, you’ll reduce plastic waste.
7. Contain Your Shopping Frenzy (Aka Buy Less Souvenirs)
Even if the best souvenirs are your photos, you might have the duty to bring to your family a souvenir from your last trip, or you might enjoy having something to remember your holiday by. Whatever the reason, if we must buy souvenirs we should try to find some made locally and with materials such as wood or ceramics. Please, avoid ‘Made in China’, cheap and unoriginal objects. Not only they are almost all made of plastic, they are also badly manufactured, and, by buying them, you’ll increase the demand. The shops will simply buy a replacement, enhancing a market that promotes exploiting and pollution. To give you an idea, in Amsterdam, I bought a small wooden vase with tulips in it. Other great ideas of souvenirs are edible ones, like sweets. From Lisbon, I brought back to my family pastéis de nata (custard tart) and they loved them!