27 Oct 5 Ways to Stay Green When You Travel
When you travel or take a holiday, it’s a time to refresh, recharge and relax. If you try to live eco-friendly in your normal day to day life, there is no reason why you can’t keep that happening on your holidays, and still feel like you are getting the holiday break you deserve.
When you travel to a new place, there are always a new set of circumstances which provide their own challenges. Not speaking the language, navigating a new city, trying to book the next outing, keeping the peace among family members, deciphering a menu to actually be able to know what you’re about to put in your mouth. Depending on what type of travel you do, there can be a whole range of new things to deal with before you can finally relax and get that break.
Staying eco-friendly while in travel mode doesn’t have to be hard. Keep in mind each time you have a choice, you can choose options that are better for our planet.
You don’t have to be perfect to be green, but each choice you make can be made with a bit more of an eco-conscious.
Here are 5 easy tips to stay green while you travel.
1. Start before you leave.
Plan your holiday to be an eco-friendly one or at least chose parts of it that are lighter on our planet. A few ideas for a planned eco-holiday :
- Try a Staycation – a holiday at home. Rest, relax and explore where your from with new tourist eyes.
- Volunteer Travel – want to spend a bit more time in a place? Look into volun-tourism . Do the research, know what our getting into and whether it’s really a benefit to the local community.
- Lighter Transport – Are you up for an adventure? Try a hiking trip, biking trip or even sailing. All of these produce less carbon emissions and make for great photos and stories when you’re back home.
If you’ve got to fly, make sure you offset your emissions – do some research as not all offsets are the same – look for offset companies that do local bio-diverse tree planting to really make a difference.
2. Take the trusty 4 with you
A reusable water bottle, a reusable bag , coffee cup and Cutlery.
- Using your own bag when you shop does two things. One it stops new single use plastic bags from being used, which can take up to 1000 years to break down. Two, it spreads a message, the shopkeepers need to see that there are alternatives to plastic and people want to use them.
- A water bottle is a must! Staying hydrated while you travel is key, and buying copious water bottles is costly to your wallet and the planet. Fill your bottles at places that you trust like in restaurants and from filtered water coolers. If you’re uncertain about the water quality, two things can help – A Steripen that uses ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and viruses and makes drinking water safe. The other is water purifying tablets or a water bottle with a filter. If you need to buy bottled water and there is no way around it, buy a large bulk bottle and refill your small water bottle with it to avoid plastic.
- Coffee Cup – well this one is optional. Since you’re on vacation why bother getting it To-go? Sit in, and enjoy soaking up the café culture of wherever you are. But they are good to bring along just in case!
- Cutlery and straw set – Carrying a bamboo set of cutlery and reusable straw means that you get to enjoy food carts and drinks without the single use plastic stuff that just ends up in landfill or worst case in our oceans.
In whatever day bag you travel with, keep the trusty 4 on you, so you can avoid all the extra waste and plastics easily!
3. Buy Local
Whether it’s the food you eat, the gifts you buy or the hotel you stay at – choosing local gives you a real taste of where you’ve traveled to, and it’s better for our planet. Shipping things around the world, and buying anything we want at our convenience has a huge impact on our planet. So keep it local and reduce your environmental footprint.
When shopping, seek out locally made items and buy them from makers – at a fair price. A locally made souvenir will mean much more than something made in China that can be picked up anywhere.
Tourism can be a great way to help local communities create a source of income. More income means that these communities can take better care of the place they live, that’s a win-win for people and the planet.
4. Seek Out The Green
If you’re looking for a tour operator, hotel, or restaurant seek out ones that have green credentials. If you use a local guide book like The Lonely Planet some have eco credentials. Even at tourist information centres, ask if there is an eco- choice available.
When you use an eco tour operator or eco-hotel or restaurant make sure you ask questions and speak up if you think there is something that could be done better. Always make sure you show your appreciation for the good things their doing. See some tips from Lonely Planet
As consumers we have the power to choose and give more to those that care about their impact on our planet.
5. Leave only light footprints
Whether you’re on a nature lover’s holiday or you’re at a 5 star resort there are lots of ways we can be more conscious and leave only light footprints when we leave. A few key tips:
- Find out about local environmental issues and then be sure to do what you can when your there. If they have water issues then keep your showers short and only leave towels out to be washed by housekeeping when the really need it.
- Know what to do with your waste. Do they have recycling? Does it need to be sorted? Ask questions.
- Reduce the unnecessary. Everyone loves to grab a stack of brochures when you go someplace new. Can they be reused by putting them back? Or if not recycled? Same goes with the little bottles of shampoo and soap – do you really need them? Leave them behind unopened, saving more from being used.
- Whether hiking or snorkeling don’t damage the natural environment around you. Stay on trails, don’t collect shells and avoid feeding wildlife. Take beautiful photos and leave the place so your grandkids will also get to enjoy it one day.
- Pack eco-cosmetics and natural body products. Anything we put on our skin needs to be good for us (first and foremost). Sunscreens, lotions and bug repellents can also pollute the ocean and local waterways – so keep them natural and know what’s in them.
There is a lot we can do to travel with an eco-conscious and it doesn’t take too much effort or hassle. Most of all don’t feel like it’s all or nothing. Every little bit counts.
Keeping things green when you travel, actually really feels good when you do it. So keep these tips in mind on your next travels.
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