We are headed into the green age. Young people are more environmentally conscious than ever before, and many initiatives are being made to limit emissions and to live more environmentally-friendly lifestyles.
When we travel, it is impossible not to pollute, since it often requires long-distance transport and higher consumption of resources than usual. But there are some things we can do to travel more eco-friendly: Here are some of the most useful tips.
Don’t leave your waste around
This is an obvious one. We should never leave waste around in the streets or in nature – not if it’s at home, and not if it’s on a vacation.
Seeing plastic bags, plastic bottles, food remains and other types of waste just lying out in the open is never a pleasure. In many cities, they do a good job of cleaning, but even so, we should always aim to be respectful of our surroundings. Especially abroad. Put your waste in trash cans and containers, and if possible, sort the garbage into different groups, such as paper, plastic, glass, etc. Sorting the garbage is not an option everywhere – in some countries all the waste goes to the same place anyway – but if you are in a country where trash is sorted, then try to contribute to that process the same way locals do.
Limit your water consumption
Freshwater availability is going to be a major talking point in the near future. Experts frequently advise us to think more about our water consumption. This can be done by taking quicker showers at lower temperatures, not letting the water run for too long when you are doing the dishes or washing clothes, and informing others of the risks of water overconsumption.
Limiting your water consumption is especially important when going to dry areas, where they have lower amounts of freshwater. So if you’re going to India or North Africa, this is especially something to consider.
Pack light bags
Packing light is one of the best things to do if you are environmentally conscious.
Firstly, if everyone packed lighter bags, airplanes could use less fuel. So could buses and cars. Secondly, when you only have one or two light bags with you, you might be more inclined to walk around or use public transportation, instead of getting a taxi or renting a car at your destination.
So this is one of the best and easiest ways to do good for the environment when you travel.
Take the train
If we look aside from walking and bicycling, taking the train is the most eco-friendly way to travel. When you take a train, you are sharing the journey with many other passengers. You do the same when taking an airplane, but an airplane leaves a bigger mark behind, as much more fuel is needed.
Your first priority when traveling should be to catch a train. If that’s not an option, then take a bus. If you can’t take a bus, then go for the airplane – but always check if train travel is an option. Let’s say you’re traveling around Europe. Here it is often much easier and more comfortable to travel by train, and there are many good connections between all the main cities, at least in the western part of the continent.
If you fly, fly direct routes
If you do plan to fly on your vacation, then see if you can get a direct route – even if it is slightly more expensive.
Flying a direct route limits you to using just one plane, which is preferable from an eco-friendly point of view. It also makes your journey faster, and you don’t have to worry about the practical stuff at the layover airport (such as eating, going to the bathroom, re-printing tickets, and finding the right gate). It saves a lot of energy and trouble.
It’s safe to say that we all prefer direct routes, and so does the environment!
Offset CO2 emissions
When you fly, you can pay an extra fee/tax to offset the estimated CO2 emission. Usually, it will work in a way where you pay an extra amount, which will be used to plant trees or to protect natural areas.
Depending on where you are from, you are probably giving a significant part of your earnings away to the tax man already, so what is the harm in paying an extra CO2 emission tax to make up for the pollution when you travel?
Find the right accommodation
You have several options when you travel and you need to find a place to stay: Camping, hostels, hotels, holiday apartments, major resorts, etc.
There’s usually not a huge difference between them, but there are some things to look out for.
For instance, some hotels are aiming to be eco-friendly. The newer ones are usually the best in this regard since they have more efficient air-conditioning, modern heating systems, ventilation, and so on – where less energy is wasted than places with older systems in place.
You could also argue that hostels are good options since many people can stay in the same rooms, and since it naturally limits the time you spend in the shower, the time you spend charging your devices with electricity, and the general power outputs needed for each traveler. There’s a lot of sharing at a hostel and that means less overall consumption.
Take shorter trips – and limit the long ones
Long-distance trips pollute much more than short-distance trips. Say you are flying from America to Australia – that’s a huge journey that requires a lot of fuel, and where you will likely pack a lot heavier. On the contrary, if you are just crossing the nearest state line by train or bus, there is a very limited degree of pollution.
We all love to travel, but we can at least limit the super-long trips. Maybe you can limit yourself to one long-distance trip per year, and then taking more shorter trips on the regular? According to experts, even a little change like this can mean a lot for our environment.
Best eco-friendly countries to visit
Here are some solid eco-friendly countries to visit:
- Costa Rica
- Some states in the US (California, Oregon, Colorado)
In general, you can expect Western countries, particularly the European ones, to be the most eco-friendly, while major Asian countries such as China and India are quite terrible in this regard.