Are you planning a trip this summer? Awesome! Anticipation is one of the best parts of travelling.
You choose where to go and what to do, getting all excited about being in nature or seeing human-made structures. You can decide what kind of experience you might have.
Let’s also take the time to make your travel green, so we all get to see this beautiful planet stay beautiful.
Here are 5 planning tips to sustainable travel, starting this summer:
1. Pick a sustainable destination
You probably don’t need more ideas as your travel bucket list is long. However, if you have a few places in mind for the summer, make sure you choose one that is ecological and ethical.
What does that mean?
It means that you shouldn’t go to a country or destination with known problems of animal trafficking, slavery or exploitation of natural resources.
I know that gathering information about a foreign land might not be the easiest thing. However, you can start with Ethical Traveller. It’s an organisation dedicated to educating travellers about the social and environmental impact of their decisions. Every year, they put together a list of the world’s ten best ethical destinations. Perhaps you’ll find some inspirations in their 2017’s list.
2. Find the greenest way to get there
Congratulation! You have chosen the “where”.
Now it’s time for the “how”.
There are many transportation options to travel from one place to another, depending on your budget and your time. Before deciding anything, you must not forget to factor in the possible carbon footprint.
You have probably known that flying is damaging for the environment due to the substantial amount of fossil fuel a plane needs. Though it’s challenging to avoid flying altogether, you have the option to go as green as you can. Here’s what you should know:
Taking off and landing takes the most fuel, so taking a non-stop flight is better than transiting.
By the same token, short distance air-travel is a worse defender than flying long-haul. Thus, consider taking other available modes of transport if you are only going to fly for an hour.
I understand that some destinations are much more accessible with a car. If you have to drive, you should try to rent a hybrid car. If you own one (or even a Tesla), kudos to you 😉
Also, it’s good to share the journey with others. Offer to carpool or take in hitch-hikers. Help others out and be kinder to the planet.
Taking the train
Ideally, you take the train as it’s the greenest engine-powered way to get around. You can cut your CO2 emissions up to 90%, by taking the train.
Cycling or Hiking
Of course, if you cycle or hike everywhere, it’s the best. You slow down, have more time to appreciate your surroundings and leave no carbon footprint.
Cycling and hiking long distance and for an extended period might sound intimidating at first, but it has many rewards besides being environmentally friendly. It’s good for your health. You are also getting closer to the local culture, get off the beaten track and search for tranquillity.
If you are planning your first biking or trekking trip, get some inspiration from other TravelMap users:
When you have to cross the ocean, check out how our founder Clement and his rowing team did it.
Some airlines, train and bus companies now offer travellers carbon offset programs. In a nutshell, you can calculate the carbon footprint of your trip, using the transporter’s calculator or website like CarbonFund.
Then, you have the option to donate money (or miles) to a carbon reduction project to grow more trees or invest in renewable energy, for example.
Also, use e-tickets whenever the option is possible. Many companies now offer apps for keeping and scanning your tickets at ease. Use them!
3. Pack reusable items
Being travellers, you are exposed to disposable goods as you move from one place to another with only a backpack. You can’t bring your whole house with you on the road. However, there are a few things you can do right now to reduce the waste your leave behind:
Refill your water bottle
Before you go to a new country, check if their tap water is drinkable. If so, refill your bottle with it. Stop buying water bottles as they are wasteful and might end up in the ocean and cause serious problems to marine lives.
You can use an ordinary plastic bottle, or there are some exciting options for travellers. I have a foldable one that I can put away neatly when it’s empty. It also has a hook so you can hang the bottle on the side of your bag, to avoid any (catastrophic) spillage 😜
Think about coffee, tea, shower gel and shampoo
Do the same for other travelling items. If you carry an insulated bottle around, you can forego the many plastic cups at airports, train stations or coffee stands by the side of the streets. Though many cafes have started to give paper takeaway cups, the chance that you can’t find a recycle bin is high.
By the same token, buy refillable bottles for your toiletries and use it on all your trips instead of heading to the shop for travel-size shampoo and shower gel packs every time.
Reusable bags are also handy to have in your backpack. You might find yourself going to a supermarket during your trip. In another instance, a battery is flat, and you are in the middle of nowhere. It’s best to pack it to recycle at the right place when you are home.
4. Choose a green hotel or campsite
A lot of energy and water can be wasted in hotels. Think about the linen changing, light and baths. Those are just the surface. Chemicals used for cleaning, unused or half-full facilities, personal services, you name it.
It’s important to choose a hotel that takes sustainable practice seriously. You can find out about them at Green Hotels Association.
There’s also the greener option like lodging with the locals, using Airbnb or Couchsurfing.
Or you can camp. Stars are your bedside light, and the tent is your bedding 😊
5. Learn the language
You don’t have to become a master of the language spoken in the country you are visiting for a couple of weeks. However, it’s good to know the basics.
Understand the basics, and you stop being an ignorant tourist. Learn the language, and you are not so intimidated to do as the locals do.
You can go to a local restaurant and order the regional specialities.
You can take the bus more instead of calling for Uber all the time.
So here you have the five tips to plan a green trip in summer.
Happy Travelling, everyone ☀☀☀
And one more thing, stay tuned and subscribe to this blog for more travelling tips and inspirations.