Earth Day is on April 22nd and as travelers we can all do something to help our environment. While you may not be able to put these planet saving (and hopefully habit-forming) travel tips to use right away, they are a great reminder of what we can do to help our planet during these much needed times.
Sustainable Travel Tips
Say ‘No’ to Fresh Towels
One of the easiest ways you can help our planet is by reusing your towels during your hotel stay. Instead of tossing them on the floor after every use, leave them hanging so they can dry. Not only will you help by saving water and energy, but your housekeeper will be thankful, too. If you want to go the extra mile, leave the “Do not disturb” sign on your door. In taking this step you’ll avoid having hotel staff vacuum your room, use harsh chemicals to clean bathrooms, or wash your linens.
Small Group Travel Means 1-for-All Transportation
Group travel has several benefits: It lessens the stress of planning a trip, makes finding new friends easy, safety in numbers, the knowledge of experts guides at every site, and so much more. But perhaps the most overlooked is the reduced impact on the environment. Compared to taking flights from city-to-city, tour programs are meant to show travelers a lot in a small amount of time, thus packing their programs with trains, boat cruises, coaches and vans that are better alternatives to flying (plus, you get to see more!).
According to chief executive of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Randy Durban, “among land transport, trains are generally very environmentally friendly….in terms of non-rail transport, the larger number of passengers per vehicle is best.” Instead of having each person hire a private vehicle, traveling with a group means moving in a single unit, thus placing less stress on the environment, reducing traffic, and promoting quality of life for the local community.
Pack a Reusable Bottle
There are still lots of places where it’s unsafe to drink tap water, but there are plenty where you can. Next time you travel, take a reusable water bottle you can refill over and over again. To combat the use of plastic, many international airports, cities, national parks, and more offer water stations where can you refill your bottle for free. There is even an app called Tap that utilizes geolocation technology to share the nearest of more than 34,000 refill water stations across the world (this includes participating restaurants too). If you’re in South East Asia, you can use the app Refill My Bottle. If an app or regular reusable bottle is not your style, then invest in water filter bottle and/or water purification tablets.
Extend Your Vacation to Make the Flight Worthwhile
It’s no secret that traveling by plane is harsh on the environment. About 2% of the worlds global carbon emissions are made by aviation according the International Air Transport Association (IATA). When you break it down per person and consider other factors such as seating class, domestic or international, the results can feel shameful. While we can’t change the facts, we can change how we travel. Let’s say you take 2 international trips a year: if your time is flexible, combine 2 trips into 1 for a longer vacation. This would eliminate one long-haul flight, thus offsetting your carbon footprint. Even better, you can opt for economy class seating and pack less to reduce your weight. For more on flight tips, watch this.
Choose Local Options
No matter if you’re traveling international or domestic, drink, eat, and buy local. By choosing local you cut out exportation and eliminate the resources that would have been used to transport the product to you. When you buy local you also support local businesses that reinvest in services for the community, thus making a positive change. So next you travel enjoy a local beer or wine, order a local dish, sample street food, or sip on a hot cup of jo from a locally-owned coffee shop instead of a major chain.
It takes a little effort to travel green but the outcomes are well worth it. If you have any tips or resources you use to make your travels eco-friendly, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure to update this list with your recommendations.