This post was co-written by guest blogger Reese Jones and TravelingFig’s Chelsea Gilson. To find out more about Reese, you can follow her at @r_am_jones
There is so much truth to the quote ‘travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer’ yet the environmental impacts of our wanderlust are having the opposite effect on mother nature. One study found that tourism is responsible for more than 8% of carbon emissions everywhere. When you consider that the world releases more than 36.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, 8% is more than alarming, it’s downright deplorable.
‘Stop traveling’ isn’t a solution we are quite willing to accept. So we searched high and low to find the top tips for reducing our carbon footprint while globetrotting.
Eco-lodging is having a moment, and we’re here for it. There are plenty of ways that hotels have started to become more sustainable, such as utilizing recycled rainwater and renewable energy, and providing eco-friendly products. To know if your hotel is “green” enough, keep an eye out for those that are certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), or any other local regulatory boards for sustainability. Chelsea’s all time favorite eco-lodge is the Azulik Hotel in Tulum – they don’t even use electricity! (yes, the picture is from a private balcony, swoon). Or try camping or glamping! Here is a cool list of the best eco hotels by Condé Nast Traveller.
Pack Light & Lean
Traveling by plane already comes with a huge environmental cost, but bringing heavy luggage onboard means the plane has to use even more fuel. As such, your best bet is to just pack what you need and if possible just bring on a carry-on bag. When it comes to clothes, stick to staple items you can wear multiple times. Chelsea’s also a big fan of using rental services like Fashion Pass (use code CHELSEA3k) and Rent the Runway (use code CHELSEA50). This enables her to bring along fun trip specific clothing without having to burden the environment (and her closet) with these items when she returns home. Pack a versatile jacket, a reversible swimsuit & yoga set, a go-with-everything bag, coverups that double as dresses, and easy layering pieces. Invest in reusable containers so you can just transfer beauty products you already have at home. It may sound like a small drop in the ocean, but even the tiniest detail is a step forward in helping protect the plant.
Public Transpo is King
If you’re traveling around a city, town, or village that has a good public transport system, try it in place of cabs, ubers and private cars. Whether it’s the train, a bus, or even a bike rental, anything is better than adding extra carbon to the atmosphere. And since you’re out there to see the sights anyway, we highly recommend walking whenever possible. 😉
Eat local // Shop local
Obviously our favorite tip. Transporting food and ingredients from far away countries takes up a lot of energy and fumes. So as a general rule, make it a point to eat local and support local businesses. Not only will your meals most likely be cheaper and fresher (since the transport from a local farm to a local restaurant is much shorter than overseas travel), but you’ll get to know the country’s gastronomic heritage as well. Here’s one of our most popular posts: “You HAVE TO eat here on your trip to Rome”
Avoid Single-use Plastics
Easier said than done, we know. From buying bottled water to plastic packaging for souvenirs, you’re bound to run into plastic options during your travels. You have to be mindful enough to say no to them, even if it is the convenient choice. Those little choices – like skipping the plastic bag, bringing your reusable bottle, not wasting toiletries just because they’re free, replacing the disposable razor with your reusable one, switching to a biodegradable toothbrush, carrying your own utensil and straw kit… they are small differences, but with enough support, they can make a big impact.
Longer, less frequent, trips
Instead of going to Greece in July for a week and then flying to Peru in fall, why don’t you try to consolidate your trips into longer more encompassing travel experiences? How lovely would it be to really feel like you live in Italy by spending three weeks exploring all Tuscany and Sicily has to offer? Until the government steps up to subsidize clean energy plane manufacturing, we need to be conscious about how often we frequent the airport. I can tell you from first-hand experience that it is all too easy to get burnt out from traveling if you book multiple big trips throughout the year. But to spend a month traveling through South America by train, I mean, how wonderful does that sound?
Do you have something to say to the TravelingFig community? We’re always open to guest blogging collaborations, just head to the ‘contact us’ page and submit your ideas!