Happy April, everyone! The days are getting longer and brighter, which is such a relief. With the way vaccines are rolling out and the sunnier weather, there seems to be a literal light at the end of this scary tunnel! And with things seemingly on the up, and the rumblings of travel reopening, we can start looking forward to getting back to our trips and adventures. The thought of getting back to traveling again is a very fun idea. There is so much to plan and we’ll see so much offers, deals and packages from airlines, travel agents and hotels that will entice us to get back out there again. But, as you can see from the title of this post, it’s a great time to start thinking about ways to be more responsible and greener with the way we travel, at home and abroad. So here are some tips I’d recommend following when you’re planning or on your next trip!
1) Choose Responsible Air Travel
Air Travel isn’t exactly the most clean or environmentally friendly. But unless you fancy walking to some places, traveling by airplane is the best way to get to other countries/continents. So how can you travel by air and still be eco-friendly? Firstly, start during the trip planning stage. Are you planning trips to nearby countries in the future? If it’s possible, why not add one or two of these places to your initial itinerary to cut down on your flying time! Secondly, if it’s possible to get to travel the destination via bus, train or other public transport, then it’s advisable to do that instead of taking avoidable domestic flights. And finally, if you are flying regularly around the world, why not do your bit to offset the emissions by donating to tree-planting or eco-friendly organizations that will take your donations and plant trees or make reusable items from it! It may not be much, but it’s giving back a bit! Check out: Crann, a company that helps reforest Ireland.
2) Use Public Transport
Transport is something you can rely on in most countries. In Europe, for example, most cities and regions are connected by trains but a lot of European states are connected to each other and cross borders with their public transport, making movement so much easier. If you’re planning to travel and your initial thought is to rent a car, why not check out the public transport options first. Sure, it may add some time to your daily trips to be taking public transport, but your carbon footprint while your travel will be less! In most major cities there are well connected underground metro stations (Madrid, Paris, London), there are inter-city trains and most likely a comprehensive bus system that will take you to or near where you need to be. Bear this in mind when you’re planning your trip. Find out more about local public transport!
If you’re traveling city to city or are going to a place that is not well linked by public transport, perhaps sharing a car with other travelers to the area is a great way to get to where you need to be and not excessively increase your footprint. Nowadays, there are companies and businesses designed to couple visitors and motorists with fellow drivers and travelers, like Uber and BlaBla Car. Ridesharing can be fun. You can get the opportunity to make friends, have a new travel buddy and get recommendations on trips maybe you’re considering. I consider Ridesharing and Carpooling the “hostels of the roads” as they can provide one of a kind social interactions! Download a Rideshare/Carpool app and see if there does be people driving in your intended direction! It could make for a cheaper, and perhaps, greater experience!
4) Travel Slower
Travel Slower, you may be asking what do I mean by this and it’s exactly what it means. Take into account the effect that constantly moving and jetting about could take on the local area and environment. You may jet to the same continent or countries or want to fly all around a certain continent and the trick for this is to perhaps schedule in more time for you trip so that you can see a lot more and combine destinations you wish to visit so that you, in turn, slow down and manage to travel sustainably. As well as being environmentally conscious, being slower with your travel will allow you to explore a city/region like a local would and could lead to connecting with people of the area without it just passing you by!
5) Be Aware of What You Pack
A simple way to be more eco-friendly as you travel is to make sure you pack what you need. Sometimes we OVER pack. I’m guilty of it myself. If I have the luxury to pack another pair of shoes, I’ll do so but I nearly always return home with some clothes that Ii haven’t even touched! When you travel with more bags, you’re more than likely going to pay more for baggage fees. So by reducing those fees, it can help make it a greener trip for you with a simple downsize! Carrying with you something like a reusable shopping bag (I’m sure we all have a cupboard FULL with those bags 😂) In most cases, the places that you will be visiting, you won’t need more than a backpack with your necessities inside. Lately, I’m getting more used to traveling with just my rucksack or a sports bag. If you can pack in a way that can create more space, you too can make a little go a long way! For more info on some good tips for packing, check out my Packing Essential Post
6) Reusable and Package Free Items
When packing your bags or shopping for or during your trip, a good idea could be to check the labels on the items that you pack or buy and see if they are recyclable or can be disposed of ethically. It’s convenient when we travel to just buy what is easiest and not even think twice about the product. But it can have an impact, and it’s also something that is a very easy thing to do. Checking for the little ♻ symbol or perhaps buying food items that are fair-trade can make a small difference. Most items you pack have a plastic-free alternative or reusable containers these days. Even toiletries like shampoo and perfume can be bought for these containers. It just helps reducing waste and can also help reduce what goes down the drain, by using sustainable products! There are a whole industry of eco/green products out there, so before you travel, check some out!
7) Clean Water Bottles
From this list, this is the one that most tourists wouldn’t bat an eyelid at. In our day to day life, using reusable water containers are becoming more common. When you travel, it can be just as easy to buy a plastic bottle of water in the airport or on the plane and toss it away after. Something as simple as a reusable water bottle can reduce waste and also save you a couple of cents here and there! As well as the eco-water bottle, a portable water filter for your bottle could be a useful item to carry with you, to make sure that you’re ingesting safe water. Or even getting something like a LifeStraw, which has filters built in! It can give you peace of mind to know you’re drinking safe, clean water!
8) Support Local Accommodation/Food Places
It can be easy when we travel to just book a room in a regular chain hotel with a restaurant on-site. But in the long run, not much of the money there trickles down to the local community. A lot of chain hotels are boosted through exploitation of their workers and the communities with barely livable wages etc. When on a trip, it can really benefit the area you are traveling to when you stay at a boutique hotel or a locally run hostel. It may be a few dollars more or so but it can make for a better local impact. A lot of local accommodation also have a green footprint and support local themselves!
The same with food places. It can be a lot easier when you travel to go to a chain fast-food place and not get a proper taste of the local food scene. One thing I try to do when I travel is to find a couple of local places and get to try local dishes. As well as restaurants, cafés and food markets are a great way to support the local food industry. These places support local producers and farmers etc. The food you consume at these eateries are, a lot of times, some of the best food you’ll ever eat! You may leave with new recipes or food things to make! Food, in itself, is a whole experience.
9) Be Careful if Animals are Involved
Like most people, I love animals. When traveling, if I get an opportunity to see new, exotic and unique animals, it is usually the highlight of my trip. For example, a few years ago, my family and I went on safari in South Africa and got to see some of the most incredible creatures on earth. Before traveling to South Africa though, my experience with wild animals was mostly contained to zoos. However. More often than we think, animals are not properly cared for or are treated inhumanely behind the scenes, which can be quite traumatizing to witness. One thing I loved about that trip to South Africa is seeing animals in their natural habitat. Hippos grazing happily, elephants roaming around Kruger Park or Zebras just living their life. It can make you think of how attractions involving animals operate and sometimes you can sense that it isn’t right. Sometimes it is hard to tell. But try your best to distinguish if a place seems proper and they actually treat the animals in their care with respect. Otherwise, that kind of tourism could remain sustained and more animals could be endangered. As you travel, seek out animal sanctuaries and if you have the spare change, give them a donation!
10) Be Conscious
Being a conscious planner and adding a degree of awareness as you travel is all that it takes to travel sustainably. Knowing that there is an alternate, greener option to most of your decision will ultimately be what makes a difference. Something like the water bottle option, interacting with local people or just reducing waste can be what makes you a conscious tourist. So be sure to do your research and see where you can reduce your footprint!
Phew. What a read, eh? Hopefully this can help some of you make a bit of a difference. Even with traveling locally and in your own country, it can help to be a little more aware of what you do and how you do it. With that, I’d love to hear your suggestions on how to be more eco-friendly! Leave a comment here or hit me up on Instagram: @TravelwDavid Thanks for reading!