Traveling and going on vacation are great for your health. But realistically, it’s not always great for the health of the planet.
Here are some tips on how you can travel with less of an impact on the environment.
Be more efficient with transport
Use the most fuel-efficient means of traveling. Believe it or not, the best-to-worst efficient modes of transportation would be bus, train, car, and then airplane.
At your destination, walk, bike, or use public transportation to get around, as opposed to renting a car.
This could get expensive, but if you need to fly by plane, try flying on a direct flight.
Pack for a sustainable trip
Bring a reusable water bottle, coffee mug, and/or shopping bag to reduce single-use plastics during your trip. You might do takeout here and there, so forego the plastic utensils by bringing your own on the trip.
Some areas may have local drinking water that is not safe for you. As an alternative to bottled water, a portable water purifier could be useful.
If you’re going swimming in the ocean, wear sunscreen that does not contain “oxybenzone” or “octinoxate” (you only need to check under “Active Ingredients” on the bottle’s label). These ingredients have been linked to coral bleaching, and they will be effectively banned in the state of Hawaii in 2021. More research is needed overall on sunscreen’s effect on marine wildlife, but there is reasonable evidence that those two ingredients can damage coral reefs. I know you have heard about the disease that is taking place on the coral reefs in the Gulf.
Every bit of weight on the mode of transport affects fuel economy, so travel light if you can (and save on potential baggage fees)… after you pack your reusable items, water purifier, and sunscreen, of course!
Be mindful of amenities
To save on water, some hotels have policies where they change and wash towels and bed sheets only every two or three days, unless asked otherwise by guests. If you’re not staying at a hotel with such a policy, leave a “Do Not Disturb” tag on your door to be more water-efficient.
It’s easier to forget when you’re on vacation, but watch your usage of air conditioning, heating, and lighting when you leave your lodgings.
For longer trips, you may want to do some laundry. You may not have enough for a full load, so consider hand washing your clothes in cold or warm water and hang dry instead of using the dryer machine.