When planning a vacation, you’re probably not thinking about your eco-credentials. After all, this is your ‘me-time’. But ‘sustainable travel’ doesn’t necessarily involve farming kale or living in a yurt, nor does your city break have to cost the earth. The key is small changes with a big impact.
Follow these 7 handy tips and make your travels easier, greener, and more fun.
Do the planet a solid and pack as light as possible – your back and the ozone layer will thank you (more weight requires more fuel to move it). Stripping your luggage back to the bare essentials is a good exercise in sustainable living, forcing you to focus on what you really need rather than what you want.
It also means you don’t need to carry a whacking great case wherever you go – handy when you need to squeeze onto a packed train, and great for saving on airline baggage fees.
Power down your home
Just before you leave, power down your house as much as possible. That means switching off all lights and appliances, and reducing your boiler and heating to their lowest setting. Worried about burglars? A few LED bulbs hooked up to a timer will give the impression someone’s home, and barely use any energy.
Travel like a local
Bring a reusable water bottle (get one with a filter if you’re squeamish about foreign tap water) and a few canvas bags for carrying shopping or souvenirs. Want to go really green? Pack some travel laundry detergent and wash your clothes in the sink, you’ll be surprised how easy it is! And you’ll never run out of clean socks!
And of course, try to minimise waste as much as possible. Take quick showers, turn the lights and heating off when you go out for the day, and reuse your towels as much as possible – it all adds up!
Swap wings for wheels
Airplanes produce around 90 kilos of CO2 per passenger per hour, so ditch the metalbird and go by coach or train when you can. Sure, it’ll take you longer to get there, but you won’t have to wait ages for baggage or security, so it balances out in the end. Sort of.
If that’s too much to bear, travel with an airline which offers carbon offsetting, and splurge on the direct flight – planes burn the most fuel during takeoff and landing, so minimising connecting flights should soothe your conscience.
Hotels can be some of the most wasteful businesses around, so check the eco-credentials of potential accommodation before you book. The Green Globe app makes it easy to find hotels and hostels with the greenest policies and business practices.
Alternately, book an AirBnB, so you’re making use of a space which would be otherwise unoccupied. Couchsurfing is another great option, if you want to minimise your carbon footprint _and_ travel budget.
On yer bike
Car rentals are out and bike riding is in., so swap the gas guzzler for pedal power. You get a better ‘feel’ for an area by traveling under your own steam, and the extra cardio will help to burn off all that holiday indulgence. Most major cities now have a bike sharing platform, so it’s often just as simple as checking an app and hopping on the nearest two-wheeler.
Make sure to grab a transit pass or hop-on hop-off bus ticket for the duration of your stay. And if you really need to rent a car for that dream American road trip, look for the many hybrid and electric options now available. Tesla, anyone?
Forget the tickets, on purpose
Digitize your travel! There’s no need for folders of boarding passes, maps and entry tickets when you’ve got a smartphone.
The end of EU roaming fees means you can rely on your pals at Google and CityMapper for all your navigation needs, and most travel guides now come with PDF or app versions. And tickets for attractions? If only there was an award-winning app and website that featured skip-the-line smartphone tickets for the best visitor experiences all over the world. Oh, there is?
The Tiqets app has an easy interface, great info on your highlights, and scannable barcodes for the museums and attractions you’re looking at. Download and go!