When you think about being an eco-friendly traveler, the first things that come to mind are probably things like going camping or choosing to use your bike to travel across the country. But eco-friendly traveling is so much broader and includes so many smaller yet still green activities that are all a part of what it means to be an eco-friendly traveler.
Some people take green travel to the extreme. But no matter what decisions you make during your travels, as long as you try your best to be more environmentally conscious, you’re doing your small part that plays into the bigger effect.
The best and easiest phrase to remember when traveling is to leave no trace. This concept means to leave nothing behind but footprints, no matter where you go.
Top 10 tips for more eco-friendly travels.
If you care about the environment and you also love to travel, there are some really easy ways that you can be greener while doing it. Here are some easy tips on how you can be an eco-friendly traveler.
1. Bring a spill-proof tumbler or aluminum water bottle.
After you finish that long check-in at the airport, most of us go straight to Starbucks to get a coffee while we wait hours for the flight. That’s the first disposable cup tossed into the landfill.
Throughout the course of your trip, you’ll no doubt go through 20-30 cups or equally harmful plastic water bottles that could fill up at least a garbage bag. With the simple change of tossing a spill-proof tumbler and/or a reusable, eco-friendly water bottle into your bag, you’re set.
This is the #1 most important change that you can make that will keep your trip greener.
2. Unplug your home.
Before you leave your home for a trip, whether it’s a weekend trip or a three-week-long trip, unplug everything in your home. Even if you’re not using something, just having it plugged in seeps energy from the grid. This not only saves electricity but also saves you money.
3. Pack lighter.
This may seem insignificant, but packing light has a huge environmental impact. If your bag is lighter (let’s say you pack just one suitcase instead of two) that means the plane will weigh 50 lbs less, the bus you ride or the car you drive will be just as light, and each one of those changes means the fuel consumption will also be less.
4. Use public transportation or walk.
While we may not always want to take the bus/rail, mass transit is by far the greener way to travel on land, as it uses a reduced amount of fuel per passenger compared to a car. Even better, when possible, why not walk? One of the best ways to see any place and experience the local intricacies is by walking around, and it’s great for your health too!
5. Eat local.
Whether you’re traveling or not, purchasing local food/products means that nobody had to drive those goods across the country just to get them there. Buying or eating the local produce also encourages local businesses to thrive.
Let's admit it, food is one of the 'tastiest' ways to get to know a destination. So, get that palate on a hunger hunt!
6. Choose eco-hotels.
There are many eco-friendly hotels/hostels popping up all over the world, which make great choices to help offset those emissions you caused by getting to the travel destination.
These accommodations make their mark on the environment by ensuring they responsibly use electricity, reduce the amount of water wasted, and encourage their guests to join in on environmental practices whenever they can.
7. Shop locally.
Don’t buy products from your home country when you’re traveling, as it only increases the weight of the luggage. Instead, buy local goods you can find, like local produce, trinkets, or even clothes made from local and natural fibers.
Also, make sure to utilize your reusable bag while shopping and try to reduce the use of plastic bags. All those plastic shopping bags just get left in your hotel room to be thrown away after your trip is over.
8. Leave no trace.
No matter where you travel, the only thing you should leave behind is footprints. Most eco-travelers take this one step further now and suggest that each of us should leave the place we visit even better than when we found it.
That means picking up a few pieces of trash we see on the beach or in the forest and tossing it in waste containers, so it doesn’t end up sinking into the ground or ocean.
9. Take non-stop flights.
The biggest impact of a flight isn’t the flying, but rather the takeoff and landing that consumes the most amount of fuel. Of course, nobody likes having layovers, but the next time you think about flying, maybe that extra USD 20 is worth it for Mother Nature.
10. Drink near beer.
The term “near beer” is a new growing trend, but it isn’t a new concept. What it means is that wherever you are, drink the beer that’s made nearby. Since you’re traveling, why not drink the local beer? Not only are you being greener, but you’re also supporting local breweries. Cheers to that!
These are only a few tips, and there are so many great ways you can travel greener! It is all about doing one small thing at a time. Just follow these simple steps, and you're sure to be on your way to becoming a more eco-friendly traveler.