Once COVID-19 runs its course and infection rates decrease, the travel industry will likely see a major jolt. Many people are waiting for their chance to go on vacation and live again after months on lockdown. However, although we will again be free to roam, we still have a responsibility to keep Mother Earth in mind and make smart decisions, so our trip is not hurting the environment.
Luckily, no matter where you are going, you can take simple steps to reduce your carbon footprint and go from point A to point B without causing unnecessary damage. Here are some tips for what to pack, where to go, and how to get there while keeping sustainability in mind.
The first step to a sustainable trip is to pack properly and use as few disposable items as possible. Doing so will avoid unnecessary waste and make travel easier with lighter luggage. The lighter the suitcase, the better, because a lot of heavy baggage will weigh down an airplane and greatly reduce its fuel efficiency.
Just about everything you bring on vacation can be switched out for a more sustainable alternative, including your toiletries. Many people are turning to eco-friendly toothbrushes, which still help your teeth, but they are not made of the petroleum-based components that make common toothbrushes non-biodegradable. You can even be smart about the contact lenses you wear by using reusable instead of daily disposable options. As a side note, remember that you shouldn’t wear contact lenses more than 16 hours per day, or you could strain your eyes and experience redness or blurred vision.
As you pack, think about sustainable products that you can use during your travels and once you get to your destination. Reusable water bottles and travel mugs are always recommended because you can refill them at any time without making unnecessary waste. At your hotel, instead of wasting the provided toiletries, bring silicone travel bottles filled with your own shampoo and conditioner. You can even bring your own sustainable cutlery and cut down on disposable forks and knives that are typically thrown away, whether they are used or not.
Next, you need to be smart about how you are getting to your destination. Out of all modes of transportation, an airplane uses the most fuel and energy to operate, so if you must fly, only do so if you are taking a trip far away, and opt for a non-stop flight that will use less fuel and energy overall. The act of taking off and landing uses 25% of the plane’s fuel supply, so by only doing each act once during your trip, you are vastly improving fuel efficiency.
If you are looking to stay in America, then you should consider skipping the plane entirely and take a road trip instead. Your car will use less fuel and will generally produce fewer CO2 emissions than flying does, especially if it is an electric car. Plus, when you drive, you can spend more time with family as you can talk and engage with one another without having to worry about bothering other passengers.
Once you get to your destination, you may be able to further reduce your carbon footprint during your stay. If you don’t plan to travel far during your trip, then you can cut out the car rental and instead get around by walking or riding bikes. Doing so uses zero carbon emissions while also reducing traffic congestion, transportation costs, and dangerous air pollution that can lead to asthma. Plus, bikes are fun, and the exercise associated with riding them leads to a healthier lifestyle and quality of life.
Where To Go and What To Do
If you are dedicated to sustainable travel, then visit a location that is known for its eco-friendly efforts. Whether you are traveling locally or abroad, many locations understand the importance of keeping our planet clean and safe. For instance, the country of Slovenia is known as the most sustainable country on earth because Slovenians have implemented important programs for smart waste separation and reduced traffic position. Plus, they have a lot to see with over 40 natural parks and reserves.
Another famous sustainable destination is Norway, where they engage in many conservation programs and make it a goal to create a low tourism footprint. This is also a gorgeous country with vast mountain ranges, waterfalls, and even glaciers. The city of Copenhagen, Denmark, continues to be number one on the top 10 list of most sustainable cities year after year due to its goal to be the first CO2-neutral city by 2025, and one way they do so is by being one of the most bicycle-friendly locations in the world.
Wherever you decide to go, you can continue to help the local economy and reduce your carbon footprint by shopping and eating locally. When you do, you are not only helping the people in the community, but you are also eating the freshest local ingredients, which reduces the need to have items shipped from across the country, and those trucks produce high emissions. Wherever possible, try to use credit cards instead of cash. When you do, you avoid the stress of needing to exchange for local currency, but make sure to read the fine print because each country processes credit cards differently.
As time goes on, the people of the world become more aware of the importance of a clean and healthy world, and you can do your part by enjoying life in eco-friendly ways. Consider these tips next time you take a trip and feel pride that you are doing your part.