The sad truth is, until engineers invent aeroplanes which run off reusable energy (and make them mandatory across all airlines), there isn’t an obvious guide for eco-friendly travel without increasing your carbon footprint. Of course, catching a bus or train is a lot better than a plane, but there really is no perfect method of transport to get you from country to country, whilst leaving no trace of damage on the planet.
Take a few minutes to read through our top tips for eco-friendly travel, and hopefully it’ll help give you some pointers to be as responsible as possible on your journeys.
Think before you leave
Oddly enough, the first step to helping the environment starts before you even leave the house. How long are you going away for? Two weeks… a month? Maybe even longer! Make sure to use up all of the food in your house in the lead up to you going away, and give any food that won’t keep to either a food bank or a friend/neighbour. Food waste is a huge issue which can so easily be prevented; all it takes is a little planning ahead!
Make sure to unplug any electronics that don’t need to stay on; your fridge/freezer should probably be the only thing remaining. Don’t leave your TVs on standby and turn off your water supply in case of any water leaks that could not only waste water, but also damage your home!
Plan your trips well
Planning your trip is so important, as it limits the amount of resources you are wasting and helps with eco-friendly travel. Make sure you’re going to places in the most logical order, and if you’re taking a trip across continents, try and make sure you are doing everything that you want to in one place before moving on. When you research the areas that you are visiting, find out if there are any laws or rules that you need to abide by (for your own safety) and also get to know a bit about the history of that place. This way, you’ll know exactly what issues the country faces (if any) and can bring the necessary supplies to donate and support their economy.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
It’s 2019, and there is absolutely NO need to be buying single use plastic any more. With a new age of travelling, comes thousands of products specifically designed to accommodate. For example, this WaterWell Foldable Squeeze Travel Water Bottle costs around £30 and in my opinion, is 100% worth it for the most eco-friendly travel. You can fill it from any fresh water source – even a puddle – and it will filter out the waterborne pathogens to create perfect drinking water. It also folds down into a really manageable item to carry around with you everywhere, so put it on your christmas list and stop buying bottles of water!!
If you do find yourself in a position where you need to buy something spur of the moment, don’t throw it out once you’re done. You may need it again on your journey or there may be another use for it down the line.
Walk as much as you can
Did you know, walking for 10 miles every week would remove 500 pounds of CO2 emissions a year!?! Not only is walking better for the environment, but it’s also good for the mind, body and soul; it will increase your mood massively and will give you a much happier holiday experience. Invest in some nice comfy trainers or walking boots, and see the sights on foot!
Use public transport
You won’t be able to walk everywhere, especially if you’re travelling across distances. Instead of just jumping in a taxi to get from A to B, why not get a bus or train. This can require a bit of prior planning, especially if travelling long distances, but you will be able to soak up the scenery better and normally save quite a bit of money. Public transport can also be a great way of experiencing authentic culture, as you’ll be in amongst the local people living their day to day lives.
Invest in solid toiletries
One of the main reasons that solid toiletries are more eco-friendly is because they are usually plastic free. All liquid toiletries – shampoo, body wash, conditioner, and deodorants – come in containers which are normally made from plastic. Even if this plastic is then recycled, its usually made back into plastic packaging, and is still completely unnecessary. Nowadays, you can get solid bars of soaps, shampoo and even powdered toothpaste; an extra advantage of this is that it takes up far less space and can be taken onto an aeroplane as hand luggage. Win win.
Whilst you’re on your travels, make sure to buy local in order to boost that country’s economy! Buy your food from a local market rather than a large supermarket, and if you need any clothes or toiletries whilst you’re out there then shop from smaller, local shops as opposed to big chains in the cities. None of this should make too much of a difference to you but will be of huge benefit to the community.
Do at least one good deed in every country that you visit
I love this idea (if I do say so myself) as not only is it a way of helping the planet, but it’s also a great challenge to have on your bucket list! Some examples could be to give money to a local cause, litter pick, help a stranger or do a volunteering day. The opportunities are endless, and this way you can feel like you’re making a difference whilst travelling.
Look for volunteering activities
In my opinion, this is one of the best ways that you could go travelling. If you are on your gap year, or are looking to go away for a longer period of time, there are hundreds of really fun and exciting volunteer programmes that you can sign up to, which can take you all over the world! Build homes and wells in Africa, save the wildlife in South America, or become a foreign language teacher in Asia – there will be something for everyone. Everyone I know who has gone down the volunteering route said how much of a life changing experience it was; from the life-long friends you make, to the difference that you make in the community! Some opportunities you even get paid for, so you can hop between jobs, exploring new countries and making a difference as you go!
Scott and I try to practice eco-friendly travel as much as possible, but I know there is always more to be done! We are always open to suggestions on how to improve our carbon footprint whilst visiting new places, so feel free to let us know!