If you’re looking for how to sustainably travel, read through our 10 tips before you pack your bags!
Australia, let’s take a moment to think about what the post-pandemic return of tourism should look like. Here is our take on how to make our travel more sustainable from hereon.
It’s true that travel is simply not sustainable; our wanderlust leaves a trail of irreversible carbon footprints on Earth. For the most part, however, it also isn’t disposable and by staying conscious on the go, we can still help reduce the impact we’re having on the planet.
By following our guide to the top 10 tips for sustainable travel in 2021, you’ll be able to embark on your next adventure knowing that you’re not doing more harm than good with your much-needed holiday.
Photographed by ImYanis. Image via Shutterstock.
1. Fly Less
Repeat after us: aeroplanes aren’t that fly. In order to hurl themselves through the air for hours on end, they burn jet fuels that release greenhouse gases, which cause temperatures to rise – just like a greenhouse – by preventing heat from escaping the atmosphere. The good news is, eco-friendly alternatives to flying mean taking the scenic route. If the nostalgia of trains or buses isn’t your calling, make a fun road trip out of your travel time! Where these aren’t an option, take a non-stop flight to avoid high emissions during take off and landing, or choose daytime flights as contrails and cirrus clouds present at night have a heat-trapping effect.
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2. Slow Down and Stay Awhile
Make rushing through destinations to tick off and see as much as possible a thing of the past. Shift your focus on fewer, longer vacations, and learn the art of keeping pace with the place and immersing yourself in its culture. Walk or cycle your way around town to find boutique stores and photo opportunities overlooked by influencers. Marvel at artefacts in museums and become more than a pop culture whizz. Not only does this style of travel make for more authentic experiences, it also gives smaller cities or communities a chance to flourish and reduces the carbon emissions created by hopping from one destination to another.
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3. Travel Light
The less you pack, the less fuel the plane needs to carry the weight, resulting in less fuel emissions. Travelling light will also make it easier for you to use public transport to get around instead of catching a cab to and from the airport or between destinations. Taking with you a capsule wardrobe—in other words, a collection of essential and classic pieces of clothing that you can mix and match to create separate outfits— will not only bring your packing nightmares to an end, but lend your vacay looks a timeless trendiness.
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4. Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Regardless if you’ve got a coffee obsession or not, mother nature is no longer picking up after you. So take your keep cup with you, especially if you’re one for coffee on the go. You can also help cut the single-use plastic trail by travelling with your own reusable straws, water bottle, cutlery and shopping bags. Try to note how many of these that you pass up in a day or week and you’ll realise just how much a single person can save by maintaining a single habit!
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5. Shop Mindfully
If the last souvenir you bought is not a staple of your home and is collecting dust in a box in the garage, we need to talk. Next time you’re travelling, make a point of only buying items that will add value to your life, and keep your dollars local. Shopping from local businesses will not only strengthen the community’s economy, but ensure that your purchases aren’t exported goods that contribute to fuel emissions because of the transport they require. Pro tip: doing this will also rule out any potential family feuds over the realisation that the authentic Balinese painting you bought doesn’t blend with your home’s aesthetics.
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6. Skip Tourist Traps
The iconic landmark you’ve had on your bucket list for years has already been loved to death. Planning a trip with a focus on seeing landmarks is a surefire recipe for disappointment—avoid your time away becoming an ‘expectation vs. reality’ meme, and get off the beaten path. This will alleviate the pressure on places suffering from overtourism, and save you from having to waste your time standing in hour-long queues and getting photos that don’t live up to your expectations. Not to mention your experience will be met with unparalleled authenticity!
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7. Make Yourself at Home
If it isn’t possible to find eco-friendly, locally-owned or boutique accommodation where you’re travelling, the next best thing is to act exactly as you would at home in your hotel room. Yes, you’re not paying the bill, but taking showers instead of baths, hanging the towels to reuse them, and turning off all unnecessary appliances helps save tonnes of water and valuable energy. Keeping the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door will also help reduce the amount of chemicals released into the atmosphere and waterways, causing irreversible pollution.
Photographed by Jsnow My Wolrd. Image via Shutterstock.
8. Don’t Print Your Tickets
We know taking flat lay photos of your boarding passes with a cup of airport coffee brings all the Insta-fam to the yard. Choose to tread the Earth lightly and have digital copies of your boarding passes and booking confirmations instead. If you’re traveling with an airline that doesn’t have an app to support this, use what you’ve printed in a scrapbook to avoid having them go to waste and make your memories tangible.
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Not just yourself—we mean the appliances you’re leaving behind. If you’re only set to be away for a short time, check that all but the bare essentials (such as your fridge and freezer) are switched off and unplugged to save energy. If you’re leaving for a lengthier holiday, make sure they’re also empty until your time of departure by making meal plans with the fresh produce you’re storing in them, or giving any leftovers to family or a friend.
Photographed by Malcomthe. Image via Shutterstock.
10. Leave Your Phone at Home
This may feel a little like finding out Santa Claus doesn’t exist, but your smartphone’s storage has a hidden toll on the environment. The presence of all your data is sustained by huge data centres that also facilitate your text messages, phone calls, uploads and internet searches. These centres need to be powered—and simultaneously cooled down to prevent overheating – throughout the day with electricity generated by fossil fuels, putting smartphone usage on track to generate more carbon emissions than the aviation industry. So leave yours at home or keep your usage of it minimal, and travel with a clearer conscience.
Ready to go on your first eco-friendly holiday? For some getaway inspiration, head to our page for all of the best destinations to visit both in Australia and abroad! If you’re happy to cosy up at home with a good read for the time being, our list of the 10 best must-read books for sustainable living are sure to be great company!