How to travel for the Environment

Whether you’re a world explorer or simply visiting home for the holidays, here are some simple things you can do to travel green.

Photo cc: GotCredit

Photo cc: GotCredit

Like most other business out there, the travel industry also plays a significant role in harming the environment. Pollution from airplanes and rental cars and massive energy waste coming from hotel maintenance are forefront problems as development in these areas soars. However, on the same token, companies and individuals are becoming more environmentally conscious and have found ways to travel while conserving resources. Whether you’re a world explorer or simply visiting home for the holidays, here are some simple things you can do to travel green:

1.     Pack it Light

So, it’s the night before you leave and you have no idea what to pack. To make it easier on yourself, establish a goal to only pack a carry-on bag. No matter how long you’re gone, this isn’t impossible and cutting down on luggage weight lowers the amount of fuel used by the plane. Carolyn Weppler from Goway Travel suggests wearing all your heavy/bulky clothes on the plane and researching laundry service ahead of time. If your hotel is three stars or more, a hairdryer and toiletries will be included so there’s no need to pack them.

2.     Use Public Transportation

Instead of renting a fancy car at the airport, use the public bus system to help reduce emissions. The Transit App shows bus departure times and destinations for major cities in the United States, Canada, and even in countries like Mexico and the UK. Most cities also have public bikes available if your destination is within biking distance.

3.     Hotel Practices

Once you’re in the hotel, start unplugging things that aren’t being used like the coffee maker and alarm clock to conserve energy. Even though this isn’t your home, you should treat it the same by turning off the lights and cutting down on air conditioner and heater use. Put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your handle and opt out of daily towel and linen service to conserve water and limit cleaning chemical exposure.

4.     Choose Paperless

Hotels, airports, and even some restaurants and stores offer paperless options. Whether it’s in the form of a check-in papers, receipts, or tickets you should always go this route to lessen paper waste and preserve forests.

5.     Cut Down on Plastic Waste

Traveling typically involves eating on the fly where you consume drinks with straws, bottled beverages, and complimentary juice in plastic cups on the plane. The examples are endless, but the fact is that we find plastic in nearly everything disposable and hardly recognize the damage it does. In the North Pacific Ocean lies a current that’s referred to as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and it contains about 7.7 million square miles of trash, most of it being plastic. Keep in mind that plastic doesn’t degrade, so this ever-growing stockpile is compromising the ocean ecosystems and beaches across the globe.

So, when you’re traveling and “on the go”, bring a refillable water bottle and try to eat at restaurants where you can sit down and use washable dinnerware instead eating food with disposable packaging. Avoid the use of straws and order smaller meals so you won’t waste a to-go box. If you’re in a third world country where drinking tap water can be dangerous, buy a Steripen, which uses UV light to purify water.

6.     Direct Route, the Best Route

Try to book direct non-stop flights if possible. Planes produce large amounts of harmful emissions, so when they take a direct route the carbon footprint is drastically reduced since less fuel is used.

While these traveling practices can feel like they make no difference on an individual level, there is hope that more people will begin to travel and lead lives with conservation in mind. Once enough people start holding themselves accountable for the waste they produce, we will see a drastic, positive impact. Saving the environment isn’t going to happen overnight, so it’s our responsibility as individuals to live green and spread awareness both at home and on the road.

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