Be kind to the earth as you travel around it – in 2020. We have no excuse as there are countless apps and websites to help us, as well as the good old fashioned tips that have been around forever.
Here are a few tips to remember; apps to download and websites to visit before, during, and even after your trip to ensure it’s as environmentally friendly as possible. Some of these things are pretty obvious, but it’s important to have a reminder because even though you might do a lot of these things at home, we can sometimes abandon the rules we live by while on holiday.
Before you go, bear in mind…
Where you’re staying
You don’t have to stay in a big hotel to have a great holiday. They are certainly not the greenest places to stay – for example, The Green Hotels and Responsible Tourism Initiative have claimed that:
“A hotel emits an average of 20.6 kg of carbon dioxide per night and produces more than one kilogram of waste per guest per day.”
Try an alternative like an eco-lodge, which is usually water-efficient, and solar-powered among many other things that make it one of the great successes of the whole eco-holidaying movement. You can use websites such as greentraveller.co.uk to see a list of recommended and reviewed eco-friendly places to stay.
The homestay or hotel you choose for staying, make sure it is Green Sealed. Also, ensure that your hotel is near public transport facilities or walking distance from places you want to visit so you won’t be tempted to order taxis or rent cars.
Your mode of transport
If you can avoid air travel – do so.
According to the Environmental Transport Association, the amount of carbon footprint any return flight from London to NYC generates is higher than an entire year’s allowance needed to keep the environment safe.
Train travel is becoming increasingly popular, especially for people who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Using companies like InterRail or Loco2 can make booking trains for journeys across Europe fast, easy, and cheaper.
If you do use air travel, then try and make sure your flight is a direct one. You can calculate your flight’s emissions by going to carbonneutralcalculator.com, which also allows you to purchase carbon offsets, which ‘are quantified and sold in metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).
Pre-book your airport parking service as I do at parking at SFO. That saves me fuel and avoid unnecessary emissions.
Greening your home
Turn the switches of all your gadgets off along with the heating, and cancel any paper or magazine deliveries.
The heavier your luggage, the more fuel the plane uses. It will also make you a happier traveler if you have less to lug around – especially according to George Clooney.
Minimize your use of the plane bathroom
Go to the bathroom just before you board the plane at the airport – avoid using the facilities on the plane as the fuel it takes for a single flush can run a car for six miles!
Be smart about food & drink
Accept as little as you can while onboard – don’t be too tempted to take all they have to offer with their plastic cups and wrappers – especially if you’re only on the plane for a few hours.
When you get there (if you’ve decided on a hotel stay), do the same things you would do at home to be eco-friendly.
Don’t stop at knowing your hotel has a Green Seal, ask about the hotel’s recycling policy and participate in their environmental policy – you can ask to reuse sheets/towels which would save heaps of water – only if you deem it hygienic of course.
Be conservative with toiletries
Many of the hotel’s toiletries will be covered in plastic wrapping, so don’t use them unnecessarily. Either make sure you have brought your own or if you do use them, take them with you because the hotel might not dispose of them greenly if they’re left behind.
When leaving the room
Turn off lights when you leave your hotel room – close the drapes if you know your room is going to get hot from the sun (you’re only going to turn on the AC when you get back).
Get around the green way
Encourage cycling or walk to the places. It’s habitually much more pleasing than joining the locals on long crowded buses or trains. The Moovit app can guide you on how to reach any destination with the help of public transport.
When we go on short rides, electric bikes are more cost-friendly as well as environment savvy mode of transport.
If charges using green solar power, these bikes become purely eco-friendly. The best part is – not emitting fuming exhausts.
Ensure that when you eat and shop, you are buying local products as much as possible – less fuel would have been used to transport the goods to the store. It also helps to support local businesses to keep the economy thriving. Remember, though some souvenirs may be illegal to import like those made from animal skins, horns or shells. Over 800 species of plants and animals are completely banned from international trade, and there are strict controls on the sale of a further 30,000.
Find Eco-friendly things to do
Use the app TripSketch Green Traveler which provides information on eco-friendly activities and experiences in over 80 cities. So you can go sight-seeing or go to a green gathering while simultaneously reducing your carbon footprint. You could always take a hot-air balloon ride rather than take another plane to a neighboring city.
Places that have been noted to have some of the best hot-air balloon experiences include Melbourne, California, and Tanzania.
And after your trip, once your journey of a lifetime is over…Provide feedback.