Who doesn't love travelling?
Exploring new countries, cultures and creating awesome memories! I am one of the few people on this planet that had this amazing opportunity to explore other countries and I will always be grateful for that! Only a small fraction of the Earth’s population can afford to travel, especially long-distances, and it is without a doubt that air travel comes at a price for our beloved environment. Not only are planes worse than most other forms of transport in terms of greenhouse gases emissions per passenger mile, but they are also the only solution available to us for international long distance travel (travelling from Canada to Indonesia by land? See you in a couple of months).
I am obviously not trying to tell you never to hop on a plane. Travel is an amazing way to learn more about different ways of life and erase many prejudices people can carry on other cultures, but I do think that it is important to keep a few things in mind, considering the high environmental impact of travelling.
This is why we decided to share with you our top tips and tricks you can implement when travelling abroad to decrease your environmental footprint!
If you are considering a new adventure abroad soon, keep on reading!
1. Avoid taking the plane when there is a safe, possible alternative.
Shorter flights tend to have a bigger impact than long-distance ones, considering that they often have more empty seats, and that taking off and landing burns more fuel! It can thus be beneficial to think of an other option, like taking the train! Of course, sometimes your budget or time abroad might not allow you to do so, but remember that grabbing a train, a bus or a boat can also open your eyes to a different part of the country you are travelling to, away form touristic spots! I personally remember seeing some of the most amazing views in Sri Lanka while travelling by train or by bus.
2. Choose environmentally-friendly activities!
I know that riding quads on the beach or jeeps in the jungle sounds like an epic piece of fun! But there is so many other activities for you to try out that are better for our planet! Many countries offer epic hiking trails, bicycle paths, great museums or even surfing lessons! Snorkelling is also a great activity or even kayaking! There is so many options out there that you can think off that are better for the environment!
3. Avoid taking a taxi or car by yourself
Another way to decrease your carbon footprint abroad is to avoid taking taxis by yourself. You can always ask around your hostel if somebody wants to join, which would also save you money! Another option may also be available like a beach shuttle or a local bus. We do recommend you to grab a taxi if you are travelling somewhere you do not feel safe, at night, or under the influence of alcool or drugs. Safety first!
4. When hiking, stay in the trails!
When you go for a hike, especially in a protected area, make sure you stay in the trails and that you do not come too close or try to feed wild animals. This could have a negative impact on the ecosystem, since you could trample on a endangered plant species. Wild animals being fed by tourists, in the long term, could lead in an over-reliance on tourism for their survival, diminishing their natural instinct and capacity to hunt/search for food themselves.
5. Buy local!
You might be tempted to buy this beer your are used to in the supermarket or at the bar, but it is likely imported from abroad, making it a less environmentally-friendly option compared to the local beer! The same is applicable to souvenirs, some of them are often made abroad and imported into the country. Stick to something that is locally made, even if you end up paying a little bit more for it. Chances are that it is also a great way to encourage their local businesses.
6. Stick to plant-based meals when possible
The evidence is there, eating plant-based is better for the planet and every little steps count! It might be hard sometimes considering the local culture, but if possible, try to avoid red meat, since it is the most harmful for the environment. Start by cutting back on it slightly and set yourself a goal for the future. Of course, if it is part of the cultural experience, exceptions are not what defines us!
7. Walk more!
Walking is great! Seriously though, it is healthy, good for the environment and gives you the time to actually look around! After all, you are travelling, what’s the rush? Walking to your destination instead of grabbing a motorbike is such an easy way to be environmentally-friendly and healthy when travelling!
8. Bring a reusable water bottle
When going abroad, we often find ourselves buying a ton of plastic water bottle. Unfortunately, depending on the country you are travelling to, those often end up on the beach, in the ocean or being burned which releases toxic gases in the environment. Bring your own water bottle, preferably one that is above 750ml, to stay hydrated! Make your own research first if the water from the tap is drinkable, if it is not, it is often possible to fill them up in hostel or restaurants of different kind!
9. Travel light!
No you do not need 4 pairs of shoes, 10 pair of shorts and 15 tank tops. Only bring the minimum! This will not only make a difference when commuting to your different destinations, but also to the overall fuel consumption of the different transports you will take during your trip! It’s all about those small actions!
10. Act like you're at home
Chances are that if you are reading this article, you are already making a lot of efforts to decrease your environmental footprint in your day to day life. Don’t stop because you’re on vacation! A lot of countries have recycling services, try to keep your recyclable goods in your bag until you find the right place to put them. If you are staying in a hotel, you can also think of reusing your towel instead of getting a new one after one use! Turn off the lights and the air conditioning before leaving your room and do not take overly long showers.
Those are all small actions you can take to make a difference when travelling! You can also share these tricks with fellow travellers you’ll meet abroad.
Don’t forget to go on your next adventure with an open mind, ready to fill your head with awesome and unique memories! Do not judge the local culture you are visiting according to their environmental habits. There is often a picture bigger that you might not know about.
Team Des Coconuts