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Yep, we’re still on the topic of sustainability and positive environmental impact because its so important and yep, it’s still quite hard to do.
There are so many ways we can promote a positive environmental impact when we travel from the travel planning stages right up to once we are there, we just need to be more aware of it and it needs to become habit. I’ve been thinking recently about our obsession with flying (mine included), our need to buy new things (even if they’re ‘sustainable new things’), and why we visit the places we visit (how often is it for the gram?).
So based on those 3 ideas, here are 6 things I want to keep in mind when I plan my trips and go on them to be more of a sustainable traveller and have a more positive environmental impact when I travel the world. Hopefully you can relate and get some ideas too.
Stop Flying Everywhere.
As we browse Skyscanner and see a cheap flight from one Country to another or even an internal flight, it’s very easy to want to take that option over land travel, especially in Asia and Europe where there are so many low-budget airlines such as Air Asia, Ryan Air etc.
But just because we can afford to travel by plane on these short and cheap journeys, it does not mean we should. Aviation has an extremely harmful impact on our planet. The Smithsonian says that a Boeing 747 airplane can burn through five gallons of jet fuel…per minute! To put that into perspective, a huge 747 airplane flying to Thailand from LA has the potential to burn through 40,000 gallons of jet fuel during its journey.
I must say that I find this part of environmental impact from travel the hardest to get my head around because we can’t see it like we can so many other issues, but there’s no doubt about it that flying really is bad for our planet.
Travel By Land & Sea Instead.
Sometimes it’s impossible to travel by land and sea and we do need to fly, but in many Countries it’s totally possible and it’s actually the best way, for example in India, China, Japan, South East Asia and Central America.
In 4 months in India visiting the North and South I only took one internal flight because the train would have taken me 2-3 days. I’m so pleased with that and of course train travel is the real and best way to travel India anyway.
In South East Asia you can use sites like Bookaway to book your ferry ticket from Coron to El Nido, and book a bus or train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. These days land and sea travel booking sites are actually very reliable, flexible, organised, and extremely budget friendly. We do not need to rely on booking a flight as the only way to confirm and pre book travel before our trip now.
In addition to this, I also try to think that a 2 hour flight may look appealing but often airports are further out of Cities meaning it takes more time to get there, we need to get there early, there might be delays, we do the flight, wait for the luggage and then get another taxi, bus or train. In this time it might have been quicker to take that 8 hour train, bus or boat!
Don’t Buy Travel Sized Toiletries.
Not only are those tiny travel sized toiletries the same price as the bigger versions (in fact sometimes more expensive) and therefore a total rip off but because they’re so small they don’t last long and are therefore producing so much more waste. In the last few years since travelling on regular short trips with carry on, and then wanting to save room in my backpack on a long trip, I’ve switched to toiletry bars where possible and it’s been such a good decision!
Right now I use bar Shampoo, Conditioner and Deodorant. Not only do these bars last a long time and and therefore work out much more cost effective, I don’t need to worry about trying to fit a zillion bottles into one small plastic bag when travelling with carry on, they’re much smaller than carrying 3 bottles, and they help reduce the amount of plastic I’m using.
What I also do when travelling carry on only is purchase re-usable travel sized toiletry bottles which last for a long time, and decant them from from my bigger bottles and tubs. I use these for my face moisturiser, body moisturiser, face wash and sun screen.
Don’t Buy Stuff Away That We Don’t Need.
Talking of consumerism, there’s a fine line between supporting the local community by purchasing hand-crafted goods that we absolutely love and buying stuff just for the sake of bringing home souvenirs. There’s no doubt about the fact that we live in a consumer world and consumerism seems to be taking over.
Goods and products are being mass produced at such an alarming rate that Earth’s natural resources just can’t seem to keep up. And our consumer habits as humans are the driving force for companies to continue these harmful practices as whilst we produce the demand, they’re not going to stop.
A huge mistake, for tourists on short trips especially is to shop shop shop, partly because things are cheap and partly because that’s what we’ve been taught and are used to doing (aka bringing home a tacky souvenir or present that’ll never get used on every trip!).
I must say that I am good at avoiding this most of the time but I know I need to be a bit better at saying no, especially on press trips, when people give me gifts / souvenirs that I know I’ll never use and will throw away the next day.
Go Where Not As Many Other People Are.
I do love going to ‘lesser visited destinations’ and this really does help with the environmental impact we have and it helps us spread the wealth. The popular Cities and Countries may get more likes on Instagram but that’s not what it’s about and personally I find much more satisfaction going to places not as many other people travel to, which is why I’m very excited about my next trip to the Caribbean Island of Dominica!
Find Less Visited Spots.
Popular places are popular for a reason and I’ll admit that I love visiting them too, but if we want to go to the popular spots in Europe like Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, or in Asia like Bangkok, Bali and Boracay once we arrive I think we should get in the habit of searching on google for ‘unique things to do’ there or ‘lesser known things to do’. It’s likely that a blogger has written a post on this and by avoiding the heavily visited tourist spots and not going the same way as the crowd we’ll be helping with the environmental impact of where we’re visiting and still helping to spread the wealth around the destination.
I hope that resonates with you, let me know what you think in the comments or by tweeting me @wandering_quinn.
I’m Ellie Quinn!
I’m a travel addict who has been travelling on and off since 2010. In the Summer of 2018 I quit my office job in London, left my flat and I now travel and blog full time! Yes, I’m living that dream!
NOV-DEC: PROBABLY INDONESIA
If you want to join or read more about the details of the group tour.