Traveling can sometimes seem like a tremendous waste of resources and a source of unnecessary pollution. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can get out into this amazing world and explore it to your heart’s content while doing so in a conscious way.
What does it mean to say that you are conscious? Well, it means you are aware of how your actions are affecting others and the planet. This includes things such as your environmental footprint and where you choose to spend your money. Are you giving your hard-earned cash away to some faceless corporation, or is it going to a local family business? Are you planning your trip in an environmentally friendly way? Are you looking into eco-tourism options?
Here are a few ideas for how to travel in a more conscious way this summer:
1. Take Slower Modes of Transportation
As a general rule, the slower the transportation, the more affordable and less polluting it is. Using your own two feet or riding a bicycle are obviously top of the list when it comes to those two aspects, but taking a train across Europe or a scooter in South East Asia are other slower ways to get around that are more environmentally conscious. These also have the added benefit of being more scenic ways to soak in your surroundings.
2. Fly as Direct as Possible
The parts of a flight that burn up the most fuel are both the take-off and landing. The actual flying part of a flight uses comparatively little. If you book direct flights, or flights with as few connections as possible, your carbon footprint will dramatically decrease. This is probably the biggest impact you will have on the environment during your trip, so be mindful of it.
3. Travel with Reusable Products
Using reusable products will make you an environmentally conscious traveler.
An easy switch can be swapping out plastic store-bought drinks for a reusable metal or glass water bottle. Not only will you avoid drinking unhealthy chemicals that leech from the plastic like BPA, you will be able to keep your water chilled for a much longer time (especially if it’s in a double-walled metal bottle).
Another switch you can make is with razors. Forgo disposable razors for a reusable one where you only have to swap out the cartridge.
A third way to travel with reusable products is rechargeable batteries. Batteries are a big pollutant because of the toxic chemicals inside of them, so being able to significantly cut down on using the disposable kind will help you be more environmentally is a great step in the right direction. Rechargeable batteries only cost a little more upfront, but you will end up saving quite a bit in the long term.
4. Take a Solar Charger
If you like the idea of traveling to exotic locations off the beaten path, you may find yourself without easy access to electricity to charge your devices. This is where a solar charger comes in handy. A solar-powered charger will enable you to harness the limitless free energy of the sun anywhere, even if it is cloudy. There are many options these days that are both portable and effective in quickly charging your devices, be they smartphones, cameras, or even laptops.
5. Seek Out Eco-Friendly Accommodation
You have a few options if you want to have a lower impact on the environment when it comes to where you lay your head at night.
Counties like Italy offer farm-stays with local families well used to living in harmony with the land. Meanwhile, the growing eco-tourism movement has seen an increase in availability of off-grid bungalows, yurts, glamping tents, and cabins.
If you prefer your holidays in beach resorts then make sure it is “green certified”, so you can be confident that your hosts are doing as much as they can to reduce their impact on the planet.
6. Eat Where the Locals Eat
Ditch the corporate chains that you see back home and head to the local restaurants. Not only will you immerse yourself in the delicious local cuisine at a fraction of the price, but local restaurants and cafes are also more likely to have locally-sourced their ingredients.
7. Be Careful When Buying Souvenirs
You will probably want to take something back home to remember your trip by. But when shopping around for memorable souvenirs, be aware that some countries sell things that are unethically sourced or come from endangered animals.
The main guideline here is that if something looks like it came from an endangered animal, coral, or ivory, don’t buy it.
8. Avoid Tourist Traps
Get off the beaten path and explore places that are not inundated with tourists. Not only does it feel like you are more or less in a smaller version of wherever you came from, tourist traps often actually hurt the local communities because of all the pollution and strain on local resources they produce.
You’ll also miss some extraordinary places when you just stick to the well-known spots.
9. Visit During the Off-Season
Traveling during the off-season not only costs less, sometimes significantly less. But what also makes this choice a more conscious one is that it supports the local community of your destination at a period when trade is quiet. Plus it eases the burden put on the infrastructure of the local community during the high-season.
It’s also nice to see well-known and captivating sights without having hundreds or thousands of tourists around you taking photos.
Travel Smart, Travel Consciously
If you follow these tips, you will be able to be a more conscious traveler this summer and beyond.