Looking for ways to stay sustainable while travelling or on vacation? Part 1 of our Sustainable Travel series covers: Where to Go, Where to Stay and How to get there.
Here, in Part 2 we look at how to keep up that sustainable lifestyle while you are travelling or on vacation.
Globally, humans buy 1 million plastic bottles per minute. 91% of these are not recycled. Plastic water bottle sales continue to rise. Avoid bottled water at the airport and on the plane. If you take your empty water bottle you can fill it up after security and save on overpriced bottled water. Even better, is a reusable water bottle with an inbuilt filter in case you cannot always be sure of the quality of the tap water in your destination. Where packaged bottle is a necessity try to buy larger bottles that last you longer. And, keep hold of your bottle until you can recycle it. You can check whether your airport has drinking water fountains and where they are are at https://wateratairports.com/.
Etihad, the Middle Eastern airline, this year discovered 95 pieces of single use plastic on its flights. Air New Zealand has removed 29 million plastic cups from its flights this year and welcomes customers who bring their own bottles or cups on board. Hopefully other airlines will start to follow. So use your own reusables where possible. If you are lucky enough to be offered one of those inflight accessories packs you could donate the items you don’t use to a homeless shelter.
If staying in a hotel, don’t request for your room to be made up everyday and much like you don’t use a fresh towel every day at home you don’t need to do it on holiday! Save the electricity needed to vacuum and the water needed to wash your bed clothes and towels everyday (not to mention the harsh chemicals used to do this). This will have a positive effect on that carbon footprint. Similarly, avoid super long showers and turn off the TV, lights and aircon when you leave your room or apartment for the day. If you need to keep the place cool, close the blinds while you are out.
Be mindful of your transport. Taking public transport where you can means keeping your carbon footprint down but can also add to your travel experience. Giving you an opportunity to see your destination in a new light and perhaps interact with locals. Walking is always the best way to see the sights but there may be other fun ways to get about or do tours, e.g. bike, electric scooter or electric shared vehicle. In some places you can hire an electric car or join an electric car sharing scheme. Do be careful to assess your own needs when choosing how to get around. It’s the best time to try something new but not the best time to injure yourself in doing so!
Pack your own snacks while you are out and about, using your own reusable bags. This can help to avoid accumulating unnecessary packaging but also avoid unhealthy or overpriced treats. Obviously, it’s your holiday so you need to let go and enjoy yourself! Why not schedule breaks that allow you to sit, eat and watch the world go by for a while? This will also give you an opportunity to eat and drink locally. Step away from the international chains and seek out the best in local produce. Traditional eateries, markets or street food can be a cheap way to experience the best a region has to offer. It could also be an opportunity to try veggie or vegan options, sometimes a safer option if you want to avoid wasting any time in bed with an upset stomach!
Recycling can be a minefield at home, let alone on holiday! You can research in advance what recycling rules and facilities are like in your destination. Use your hotel (or apartment host) as a resource and look out for different colored bins on the street. Dispose of your rubbish thoughtfully even if recycling facilities are not available where you are. There is never any excuse for littering!
The word souvenir comes from the french for memory. We think photos are the best memories! But if you really want to buy something you should try to shop local, support the local community but avoid those plastic mass made statues that you are bound to regret the purchase off when you get home! Perhaps you could get some food or drink that is specific to the locality, or something else that has a specific use, like a piece of clothing or jewelry. Do ask how and where it was made. Remember to buy less and buy better.
Sustainable travel doesn’t have to be hard work. Prepare as much as you can for situations in advance but trip each trip as a learning curve and share your experiences with others so they too can reduce their travelling footprints. Most importantly, have fun!
How do you make your trips sustainable? Share with us in the comments below or on social media #aworldaroundtheworld
AWorld is building a platform that aims to support us all in our efforts to build more sustainable habits. SIGN UP to our newsletter if you are looking for ways to have a positive impact.