I think we can all agree that taking vacation is good for the soul. Getting out of your everyday routine, seeing new places and faces and being outside of your comfort zone is what life is all about. Unfortunately, long distance travel is not very good for our planet. Air travel accounts for about 2.5% of global carbon emissions, according to a study by Manchester Metropolitan University, but it’s definitely not the only travel-related contributor to climate change and resource depletion. The food you eat, the beverages you drink and the equipment you use to carry your things can all add up in a serious way if you’re not careful.
Luckily, we’ve got some tips for you to start thinking about travel in a more sustainable way.
1. Pack Light
No matter where you’re going, try to fit all of your belongings into a single carry-on bag. Of course this is easier said than done, but there are tons of benefits including but not limited to saving on checked bag fees, saving on cargo space, and having an overall easier time once you’ve reached your destination.
2. Use the right luggage **cough cough**
Using a suitcase made from recycled materials gives you an immediate headstart in eco-friendly travel. Now if only we knew of something like this… OH WAIT
3. Use public transportation once you reach your destination
If you’re like me, flying can really be an energy drain. The last thing I want to do when I get off a plane in a country where I don’t speak the language is figure out how to get to my destination via public transport. But assuming I’ve packed light and done my research before-hand, it’s never as daunting as it seems.
4. Bring a reusable water bottle
Cutting back on single use plastic is a big one. Of course this is very difficult when you’re staying in a developing country without safe drinking water. But whenever possible try to avoid buying bottles of water.
5. Shop at local markets
Local markets are the best place to find sustainable food. Plus, dining out for every meal can get expensive real quick. Try to eat out only once a day; picnic food from the local markets or eco-friendly grocery stores are a great alternative to dining out if you don’t have access to a kitchen.
6. Eat less meat
Whether you’re dining out or eating in, consuming less meat (or none at all) is a very simple way to lessen your environmental impact while traveling abroad. As an added bonus, it can also help you to avoid some food-born illnesses that could easily ruin your trip.
7. Be mindful of your accommodations
Of course staying in a cushy hotel can be luxurious, but they are also eat up huge amounts of resources. Staying at a hostel, doing some couch surfing, or trying a short-term rental are all more sustainable options, and will also give you a more authentic travel experience.