Here are some quick and easy hacks to help you travel responsibly
Traveling is one of the most rewarding and life-changing things in this world. Whether it’s just a quick trip out of town or a 2-week vacation in another country, nothing can satisfy our wandering souls more than traveling.
We know vacations should be all about having fun under the sun and making good memories, but their environmental sustainability makes them more meaningful. And if you’re someone who loves exploring different places, maybe you should reconsider your practices when it comes to traveling.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, almost 30% of greenhouse gas emissions came from the transportation sector. That being said, moving from one place to another can essentially add up to the carbon footprint you leave behind when you travel often. But did you know there’s a “greener” way to travel? We’ve provided 5 helpful tips you can use the next time you go on a vacation.
1 Pack light
First of all, pack light and efficiently. The heavier your load, the more power you’ll need to carry it. This isn’t just a product of analogy because the EPA has already made the connection—45 kgs of extra weight can already reduce your fuel efficiency by 1%.
The more power needed during your travel, the more greenhouse gases are emitted. So, as much as possible, pack only what you need. Bring only the clothes, accessories, gadgets, and other belongings you need.
It would help if you also tried to stray away from single-use materials. If you can buy it at your destination for reasonable prices, then there’s no need to pack it.
Besides, you can also have more transportation options if you carry a lighter and smaller load. If you have a smaller backpack, you can simply squish your way into commuter trains and buses. These public transportation get you to your destination while also minimizing your carbon footprint. And if you’re going on a short vacation only, you can even cycle using powered electric bikes.
2 Choose to travel by land
Air travel contributes over 2.4% of global gas emissions and is responsible for over 5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. As such, avoiding this form of travel can significantly help reduce your carbon footprint.
According to a recent greenhouse emissions report, domestic flights contribute more gas emissions than long-haul flights. So, as long as you can take the bus or train to your destination, choose to travel by land. Driving or riding an electric vehicle like electric bikes can also help you reduce your carbon footprint. Not only do e-bikes provide a positive environmental impact, but they also help you stay fit and healthy while enjoying the scenery of the place you’re visiting.
You may also be thinking about traveling by sea. However, cruise ships also pose environmental concerns. This mode of transportation contributes to the increase of greenhouse gas emissions. Cruise ships are responsible not only for carbon dioxide emissions but also for nitrogen oxide emissions. Some cruise ships even have poor waste management protocols, thus increasing water pollution.
So, should you travel by sea, at least find a cruise ship that is strictly compliant with environmental policies.
3 Fly economy
However, if you’re traveling to a different continent or a far-off country, booking a flight may be inevitable. If your mode of travel is non-negotiable, then you should at least fly economy.
Economy flights are better because the greenhouse gas emissions from a single plane are divided among more passengers. So, while it still contributes to carbon emissions, the emissions at least benefit more people.
Additionally, the carbon emissions per passenger per kilometer of economy flights are three times less and four times less compared to business and first-class flights, respectively. Besides, economy flights offer fewer luxuries and, thus, less carbon footprint.
4 Minimize the use of electrical energy
Transportation isn’t the only big culprit to the worsening climate change. Electricity generation also plays a big role, contributing up to 25% of global gas emissions.
So, another way to make your vacation environmentally friendly is by minimizing electricity use. Nowadays, wherever your destination may be, you’ll always have access to electricity. And with this new generation of connectivity, electricity use is a vital part of our everyday lives. The least you could do is to minimize your electricity use.
You can do this simply by turning off your hotel room’s lights when not in use. Unplugging all appliances before heading to your day’s itinerary can also help conserve energy.
Make sure also to charge your devices fully. Fully charged devices drain slower, thus resulting in less frequent charging.
Minimizing electricity use also applies to the home you’ll be leaving during your travel. Make sure you’ve got appliances unplugged before locking your door. If possible, you can also clear out your fridge and leave it unplugged.
You can also change your thermostat settings. After all, you won’t be there to enjoy the hot or cold of your home. And be sure to draw your curtains and blinds closed to keep the cold out as much as possible. Speaking of heat, make sure to turn off your water heater, too!
5 Bring your own reusable bag and water container
Lastly, make sure you bring a reusable bag and water container. A reusable bag can be anything from a cloth canvas bag to a paper bag. This reusable bag will come in handy whenever you go out and buy local products and delicacies.
On the other hand, the water container will serve many purposes. Not only will it keep you from buying water bottles made from single-use plastic, but it'll also keep you hydrated throughout your journey! You can simply refill your bottle at hotels, restaurants, and even public water fountains.
Bringing your own portable purification or filtration tools is also a way to ensure the water you're drinking is safe to drink.
For most of us, vacations are a great way to enjoy the beauty that the earth has to offer. So, it's only fitting that your trips should also serve to protect what you enjoy the most.
By packing lightly, flying by land or with the economy, minimizing electricity use, and bringing multi-use accessories, you can indeed protect the earth for many more years and vacations to come. These are just simple tasks, and it won't hurt to try one on your next travel.
We hope these tips can help you make your vacation as eco-friendly as possible while still making it memorable and fun. And should you have any ideas for a more environmentally friendly trip, go ahead and try it! After all, these tips are just a few of the many ways you can go green.