Traveling in a more eco-friendly way is something incredibly important today. In fact, it’s critical! If you love the earth, of course, you want to see more of it… but are there ways to do so more consciously? Yes! The good news is there are some very simple ways to travel in a more conscious and eco-friendly way. You can see the world, and enjoy new experiences while still doing your part to protect the environment. This has been on our minds a lot lately, and we are always striving to minimize our footprint wherever we go. We thought it would be helpful to share some simple tips to becoming a more eco-friendly traveler, so you can continue to see all the beautiful planet has to offer in a more conscious way.
1. Travel slow
One of the best parts of traveling is really getting to know the culture, people, and customs. Traveling slowly is a great way to do that. By spending more time in each location, you will have less of an effect on the environment while also having a better travel experience. Short weekend trips can be great but hopping around from place to place is not the best option for the environment. When you can, travel slow and take it all in. You will enjoy it more, and the environment will thank you!
2. Pack light
If you’re a fashionista – this one might be hard to hear! But the truth is, every kilo on the plane causes more fuel to be used. And the more a plane weighs, the more carbon emissions are produced. If we all make a few minor changes in how we pack, it could profoundly affect the aircraft’s weight and significantly reduce emissions. On your next trip, try planning your outfits ahead and using items that can be used multiple times throughout a trip. Recycling pieces to make up different outfits is a great way to travel lighter. Think about what you really need on the trip and bring nothing more!
3. Eat local
Eating locally grown food is a great way to travel in a more eco-friendly manner. This comes down to the concept of “food miles.” Food miles measure how far food must travel to get from where it’s grown to your plate. It’s a helpful way to judge the potential impact it can have on the environment. When you think about it, if food is flown from across the globe just for you to eat it, there were likely planes and trucks that used tonnes of fuel to transport it there, for only a few minutes of enjoyment! By choosing to eat local, you can support local farmers and small businesses while reducing harm to the environment. Plus, if you are traveling somewhere, the best way to experience it is through the delicious local cuisines! You will eat delicious, fresh local food while helping the environment… this really is a win-win scenario!
4. Take public transportation
Taking public transportation does more than save you money while traveling – it also reduces emissions. By sharing transportation and taking a bus, subway, or train, you’re not creating additional carbon emissions as you would in a taxi or rented car. A small choice like skipping Ubers and choosing the bus can make your travel experience more authentic, eco-friendly, and offer huge cost savings.
5. Fly with fewer connections
Taking a direct route is a more eco-friendly choice when traveling, and the best part is, many sites now have the option of allowing you to select the most environmental flights when you’re searching! Reducing the number of connections means fewer emissions. Skyscanner offers a great tool to make this incredibly easy while traveling. Last year, they rolled out an icon shaped like a leaf that comes up when searching for flights, which tells you which flights are lower emissions. Most often, the lower-emission flights are those with fewer connections, but some systems also incorporate formulas that take into consideration the plane model, fuel efficiency, overall distance, and seat capacity.
6. Reduce the use of plastics
When traveling, it can be easy to use single-use plastics more often. From grabbing a water bottle at the airport to shopping with plastic bags, single-use plastics can be more convenient. However, with a bit of planning, you can eliminate the excessive use of plastics on your trip almost entirely. For example, pack a reusable water bottle before you go, and keep an eye out for filtered fill-up stations. Pack a couple of reusable bags, and you can even bring your own reusable straws and cutlery. These things are easy to pack and will ensure you aren’t contributing to the massive amount of plastic found in our oceans and landfills.
7. Stay close to home
Sometimes, the most beautiful places are right in our home country! We often take our home for granted and want to set off on far destinations when we travel. However, there are beautiful places to visit all over the world. By staying closer to home for your next vacation, you can positively impact the environment and travel in a more conscious, sustainable way. With everything that has happened this year as a result of COVID-19, many of us are enjoying more “staycations” and traveling around our home countries – this is an incredible way to reduce our footprint while still doing what we love!
8. Leave no trace
Our goal should always be to leave natural spaces just as we found them – to leave no trace and to simply enjoy the beautiful places we visit for what they are. Being mindful of how we treat the environment is so important – making sure to always pick up after ourselves and take our garbage with us is one straightforward way to make a difference. Too often, we see beautiful natural landscapes around the world covered in litter. If you go hiking, ensure to always stay on the path or trail. Venturing off the trail could affect the natural wildlife and even cause detrimental effects to endangered species. It takes little effort but makes a big difference.
Traveling is a beautiful way to experience new cultures and see new places, but it does come at a cost. If we all made small changes in our daily life and take measures to travel in a more environmentally conscious way, we can make a big impact. Small changes add up, and these are some of the easiest ways you can be a more eco-friendly traveler when taking your next trip!