Traveling has become so easy these days. With budget airlines and cheap hostels, it’s not surprising that many more people can afford to travel and share their #wanderlust photos on social media. Traveling is fun and a way for us to learn about other cultures and meet different people. If you’re privileged enough to afford to travel every so often, then you must as well take on the responsibility of taking care of the planet while doing so. Come to think of it, you’re traveling because you want to see the beauty of a city, of heritage sites, of nature parks. In short, you want to see the beauty of this planet and how we, as humans, have preserved it and lived with it for thousands of years. So it is only right that we do our share in ensuring we do not do harm to it and that we become environment-friendly travellers.
Here are some tips on how you can be a wanderlust who loves the planet too:
What? How can packing light help the planet? Well, the more weight any vehicle transports, the more fossil fuels it use, and we all know by now that burning fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases, right? Well, how can you pack light? In order to pack light, you have to pack smart. Don’t bring everything in your closet. We know you want your perfect #OOTD (outfit of the day) for the perfect Instagram photo, but do you really need to bring two suitcases for a 5-day trip? We think not! Learn how to mix and match your clothes! One thing I’ve also been doing, if I’m traveling for more than a week, is to bring just a week’s worth of clothes. Why? You can do your laundry anywhere in the world! Also make sure you know the weather of where you’re going beforehand so you can pack the correct set of clothes. So pack light, your back will also thank you for it.
Here are more tips on how to pack light by Lonely Planet.
Stop packing sachets of soap, shampoo, lotion, and other toiletries
Okay, we know you love your own soap, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, and other toiletries but bringing sachets will only cause more plastic pollution. Packing light doesn’t mean your hygiene should suffer, but neither should the planet. Most hotels/hostels have free soap and shampoo, why not use them? This saves you the space in your bag while reducing plastic waste.But, if you really need to use the brand you’re used to, most brands also have travel sizes, so you can just get them in smaller sizes (just not the plastic sachet ones, get them in a bottle instead). If you want to repack them, use a travel. But instead of using travel plastic, why not use a glass bottle? Recycle some glass bottles from your house where you can repack your toiletries. Alternately, you can buy some glass bottles like this one from Amazon.
Bring a water bottle and a small shopping bag
Bringing your own water bottle and your own shopping bag can save you and the planet from more plastic. Instead of buying plastic water bottles and getting a plastic bag every time you shop, just refill your own bottle and use your own bag. Even when packing light, a small canvas bag can be folded well and will not take up too much space in your bag.
If you don’t have your own water bottle yet, why not try Klean Kanteen? They are committed to the environment and have community projects too!
Unplug all electronics before leaving
It seems so easy but it’s something that we oftentimes forget! When you’re traveling, make sure that you unplug everything before leaving your house. This will cut down your energy use — and your electricity bill for the month.
Take a train/bus for short trips
Instead of taking the plane, take a bus or a train where possible. Airplaines are carbon intensive. According to CN Traveler, “Overall, the aviation industry burns through a staggering 1.5 billion barrels of oil a year, contributing around 2 percent of total carbon emissions around the world—a number that could go up to 22 percent by 2050 if aviation doesn’t keep pace with other greening industries.” That’s a lot! The aviation industry is a very dirty industry, literally! So if you can go to your destination using the bus or the train, that’s a better way to travel than flying.
According to Greatist, compared to flying, riding a bus would cut your emissions anywhere from 55 to 75 percent and by taking the train or bus instead of flying emits three to seven times less gas than air travel. That’s a lot of carbon emissions we save!
If flying, economy may be better than first or business class
Business or first class isn’t always great. According to this article by the New York Times, “the emissions associated with flying in business class are about three times as great as flying in coach. In business class and first class, seats are bigger, so fewer people are being moved by the same amount of fuel. The study (by the World Bank) estimates that a first-class seat could have a carbon footprint as much as nine times as big as an economy one.”
Sure, you will be more comfortable in a business or first class, but the planet will not be happy with it.
Choose an airline that’s sustainable and environment friendly
Yes, there is such a thing. Airlines have put in the effort to be more sustainable and environment friendly. For example, instead of using plastic utensils, some airlines have switched to using metal ones. KLM, for example, has boasted about being the most sustainable airline for years. Here is a list of the most sustainable airlines in the world.
Offset your carbon emissions
You can calculate how much carbon footprint you had from traveling and pay for it. The money goes to different environment projects. You can try offsetting with Terrapass where you can help renewable energy or freshwater ecosystems with your payment. You can also try CarbonFund, My Climate, or Climate Care. Find a project you want to fund through offsetting!
Take public transport
When you’ve reached your destination, take the train or the bus. Thankfully, many cities around the world have efficient public transport that can take you to travel hot spots. Avoid taking taxi or Uber unless necessary. This way, you lessen your use of fossil fuel while learning about the city more. Walking and taking the public transport makes you see the city in a different perspective, and also allows you to interact with locals.
In the hotel/hostel, don’t abuse all amenities and freebies just because you can
We know, it’s really tempting to use air-conditioning, robes, towels, television, heating and everything else that you paid for. But don’t use them when you don’t need them! Re-use your towels as well, and don’t waste so much water in the shower just because you can.
Traveling is always fun and exciting! However, if we are not conscious travellers, we might do more harm than good for our planet. As mentioned earlier, we travel because we want to see the world’s beauty, so let’s make sure to protect this beauty the best we can. Don’t let your itchy feet and wanderlust get in the way of loving the Earth. Anywhere we go is still inside the planet we live in. Remember, always leave a place better than you found it. Happy traveling!