Many of us have made the switch to reusable bags and non-toxic dish soap at home, but it’s easy to forget about being environmentally friendly while on vacation or travelling. While you may not have your recycling bins or glass Tupperware on hand, these easy, portable hacks make doing your part for the planet feel effortless, even with a suitcase in tow. So pack that carry-on, set your “out of office” email to auto reply and read on for five ways to live more sustainably when on the road!
Not only is it really important to stay hydrated during active holidays, getting your three litres a day boosts your energy levels, supports digestion (ideal for when you’re sampling new cuisines!) and helps beat jet lag so you can make the most of your time off. Between excursions and meals, carrying a reusable bottle means you don’t need to spend money on drinks in disposable containers which pollute the planet. Empty your water bottle before airport security and refill it before you board your flight to avoid dehydration.
A new travel experience offers relaxation, but also the chance to learn about somewhere unfamiliar. Before your trip, research volunteering opportunities, information centres and organisations dedicated to local environmental issues. See if you can spend a few hours learning about specific challenges in the local economy and getting involved, whether it's for a beach clean-up initiative or helping out at an orphanage. Who knows, you may walk away from your holiday with a meaningful connection and a reason to return!
Travel logistics can add up, so opting for a long stroll instead of a chartered car ride offers an opportunity for exercise, enjoyment and environmental consideration (as well as saving you some money!) Exploring a new place on foot is one of the best ways to get your bearings, so pack a pair of sensible shoes and spend part of your daily adventures walking around to immerse yourself in your surroundings — no polluting vehicles needed! If you’re planning to cover longer distances, consider renting a bike instead.
So, those plastic bags hidden away in your kitchen somewhere? Here’s their time to shine. Use them to wrap your liquids and toiletries to avoid leakage disasters, pack your shoes into them to avoid dirtying your clean clothes, and stick a few into an outer compartment for easy access. You never know when they’ll come in handy for wet swimsuits at the beach or carrying your doggy-bagged dinner home to your hotel. Hotels are notorious for overusing plastic and packaging in the name of “pampering” their guests, but arriving prepared means you can kindly decline this additional waste. Best of all: if you’re worried about exceeding your weight allowance, a few spare plastic bags weigh almost nothing.
Whether this means browsing farmer’s markets instead of grocery stores, or purchasing artisan-made handicrafts rather than airport souvenirs, vote with your wallet while abroad and think about who you’re supporting with each purchase. Often, local goods sold directly from merchants are cheaper than packaged items in commercial stores. Plus, the most meaningful gifts and souvenirs are durable, authentic and come with a unique story.
What are your favourite environmentally-friendly travel hacks? Let us know in the comments below!
- by Veena McCoole
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