Tips on How to Travel More Sustainably
Sustainability has been on my mind lately and in trying to educate myself more on sustainability, I have realized what a large impact small changes can make. So as travelers, how do we venture to the places on our bucket list without feeling guilty about the impact of escape?
Here’s a good place to start:
Avoid pre-trip shopping. Dig through your deepest drawers and pull out the things you haven’t touched in a while. Invest in cute travel bottles for your oversized beauty products. Or take a day to repurpose those denim shorts you haven’t worn since last summer.
Bring your own soap, shampoo and conditioner. According to Clean The World, approximately 2 million bars of hotel soap are discarded every. single. day. Factor in hotel shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and body wash, and you’re looking at anywhere from 2 to 10 million products being thrown out every day.
Bring a reusable water bottle. I know how tempting it can be to run over to the CNBC store in Terminal 2 to buy a trashy magazine, some M&M’s, and a giant smart water, but try to avoid this if you can. And if you’re worried about how clunky some water bottles can be, try out this little guy from Que.
Bring your own reusable bags. Throw a foldable, reusable bag in your suitcase for your daily outings and local shopping. My current favorites are from Baggu. They fold up so tiny that you don’t have to worry about them taking up any room!
Pack scented dryer sheets. If you’re trying to fit everything in a carry-on by wearing the same shirt over 3 different days, then grab a couple dryer sheets. They’ll keep your clothes smelling fresh and new without being rewashed during your trip.
Design a capsule wardrobe. This is a personal triumph of mine, which you can read about here, but I swear it helps. Being able to wear a boring black skirt 4 to 5 different ways will make getting dressed and packing lightly much easier.
Take a non-stop flight. Most airplane pollution happens during take off and landing, so the less hopping around you do, the better. Non-stop flights are typically more expensive, but if you keep an eye on the prices using apps like Hopper, you can get a non-stop flight for the same price as a multi-stop flight.
Use public transportation. Use public transportation whenever you can. Almost every major city has a bus or train system that will take you exactly where you want to go from the airport, and it can be much more affordable. Here are the top 10 cities in the U.S. known for their public transportation systems.
Pack lightly. Remember this when you’re yelling at your overweight baggage: The lighter the plane, the smaller the impact. The heavier the plane gets, the more fuel it has to burn. Pack multipurpose clothing, and switch out your books for an e-reader.
Bring your own food and drinks. Why limit yourself to the, “cookies, crackers, nuts, or granola bar” when you can just bring your own snacks onto the plane? Plus, no wasted packaging.
Try an electric rental car. If you’re taking the all American road trip this Summer, think about renting an electric or hybrid vehicle. The money you spend on the rental will be the money you save on gas, with the added bonus of doing some good for the environment.
Reuse your towels and linens. Most hotels have started sustainability programs where you can either place your towels in a pile to be replaced, or hung on the door to be reused. But if it isn’t advertised, leave a note for the maid.
Use the “Do Not Disturb” sign. Each time your room is cleaned, they will replace the towels, linens, and slippers; they will vacuum, dust, and straighten the room; and they will restock all of your used food and drink items, such as water glasses, water bottles, liquor bottles, and snacks. If you leave the “Do Not Disturb,” sign on your door, they won’t come in and do any of that.
Stay at sustainable hotels. Here are some favorites:
Dunton Destinations (Mustique Island, St Vincent & The Grenadines - Dolores, CO - Telluride, CO)
1 Hotels (Brooklyn, NY - Central Park, NY - West Hollywood, CA - South Beach, FL)
Casa Del Las Olas (Tulum, Mexico)
Singita (South Africa - Zimbabwe - Tanzania - Rwanda)
i Pini (Tuscany, Italy)
Forsthofgut (Leogang, Austria)
Barbuda Belle (Barbuda, Antigua & Barbuda)
Cayuga (Costa Rica - Panama - Nicaragua)
Avoid natural souvenirs. Customs was originally invented to handle taxation on imported goods and to keep a checklist of everyone stepping in and out of the country. But since its creation it has become a good protector of our natural environment and food supply. While travelers are seeking out the world and crossing items off their bucket list, they’re also picking up new sediment on their shoes, viruses, and natural souvenirs that could be the end of a corn crop in the United States.
If you find a seashell on a beach by the coral reef, leave it there. Here’s why: According to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, the Bahamas received 6.62 million visitors in 2018. If every single one of those visitors took a seashell or a palm leaf on their way home, there would be a significant impact on the natural habitat. The impact would have such a dramatic trickle effect on all humans, animals, and plants that by 2020 you may not even recognize the Bahamas at all.
Respect your destination. This goes beyond the hotel. If you go camping and decide to light a nice fire for the evening, make sure you know what you’re doing and you are prepared to put out the fire immediately. If you go to the beach for the day and want to have a picnic in the sand, take all of your trash with you when you leave.
If anything, just remember that the places you go don’t belong to you. You should leave it like you were never there. We only have one ‘lil baby earth and we need to start taking care of it.