How to be a sustainable traveler for the planet

I am a travel blogger, I love to travel and be in nature. And I know you too. We all have traveled to various destinations throughout our lives. I believe as a traveler, one of the key things is to be considerate about the environment, and follow eco friendly travel practices.

Credits: Instagram/@kanikakaushik23

Making mindful choices while planning for travel can be of great help. Because change starts from us, so here are few things I believe we can start at our individual level, educate, inspire, spread awareness and make a difference as a community at large. Let’s categorize the approach to sustainable travel in two broad categories as follows 

Major contributors to sustainable travel:

Travel locally 

Finding local adventures, such as walking in unexplored garden or farms in your nearby areas. Alternatively, a bicycle ride on your favourite trails, which can offer good health to you and the environment. People often feel going far away from home will give them sense of exploration however, even small exploration in nature can feel a world away.

Choice of transportation

Opt for green fuel based vehicles wherever possible. Prefer car pool, public transport, bicycle (wherever possible) over personal vehicle. Electric vehicles are a good alternate towards zero emission. 

Surprisingly, air travel is one of the highest contributors to increase carbon footprint for travel industry. If you are to travel long distances, you may look for eco-friendly airlines and preferably direct flights. 

Interesting fact, according to a data shared by Atmosfair in 2018, European airlines are quite concerned about sustainable travel.

Choice of accommodation

These accommodations have a mode of operations which works in accord with nature without disturbing the ecosystem. E.g. Home stays hosted by locals enroute to Everest Base camp, Nepal offers you the best natural habitat and basic amenities.

I personally stay in small hostels; home stays located in remote areas which are managed by the local families only. Most of them have organically grown products in their farms and the entire kitchen waste goes back in the farms to make manure. 

They typically have with minimal use of non-biodegradable products. One has to be in harmony with nature when living in ecologically fragile zone. We can take this culture ahead by promoting until it becomes a mindful practice among masses.

Such home stays boosts the local economy and support families to earn their daily bread. What could be more satisfying if we can travel with a purpose. India also has such eco-friendly accommodations such as Nameri Eco Camp (Assam), Wildernest (Goa) amongst others.

Choice of food

While traveling gives us an opportunity to explore new varieties of local food, it also helps us to support the local businesses. Hence, adding to the local economy. Eating out at big restaurants is not only a burden to our pocket but also on environment as it use lot of packaging. 

I prefer carrying airtight tiffin and some reusable cutlery along with me on my travels. It helps me to pack food leftover food or maybe carry the next quick meal. It also saves the packaging material of the vendor. Adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet is another way we can minimize carbon footprints.

I am not promoting drinking here, but people prefer to drink while on travel. If you are having beer, you may avoid canned beer and have craft beer. It will help to reduce some packaging waste. 

Other mindful approaches: 

Packing essentials 

I always carry my refillable miniature toiletries, quick drying towel, a reusable water pouch, cloth napkin, basic cutlery, and an airtight tiffin, cotton bag for laundry /shopping, solar charger or rechargeable batteries, reusable or biodegradable sanitary products amongst others. 

Go organic 

Avoid sulphate based shampoo, aerosol containers; microbeads body wash and sunscreen with oxybenzone, it will help to decrease risk to marine life. Carry homemade munchies for flight or travel would help to reduce the packaging waste. 

Pack light

The golden rule of packing is to pack light and pack only what you would need. This would not only help to improve the vehicle performance by decreasing the load but also allows you to walk around freely (especially when you are trekking). 

Consider capsule wardrobe

Pack collection of essential items that can mix and match well with one another and can be layered. Prefer clothes that can be easily hand washed and dried if required during travel. 

Do’s and don’ts of shopping

It is our general tendency to do impulsive buying when we are out on travel. Please buy commodities, which you really need. Buy from small local artists, and help them gain livelihood. 

Don’t encourage products obtained from animals such as ivory, leather products, tiger bone, etc. 

Adopting minimalism

Following minimalism helps to reduce burden on nature and you can save some extra bucks. 

Practice slow travel

It helps to absorb the local essence of the place and helps to build great connect with local community. You can contribute to the local communities by educating them in their area of concerns. When you have more time you can explore things at your own pace e.g. you may trek down to a destination rather than using transport. 

Plogging

Plogging is a combination of jogging with picking up litter. Imagine yourself jogging on a beach or through mountain trails, ruined by litter. Then plogging is a good approach, you will help the nature to remain serene. Only leave footprints and carry memories. 

Choose your adventures wisely

An elephant/camel/yak ride or a pool show/ boat ride to see dolphins etc has forced animals away from their natural habitat. They are trained to entertain humans.

Please try to encourage activities where you can support a local NGO, rehabilitating wildlife and contribute to the change. Haven’t said that, I understand activities mentioned above helps many struggling families to bring food on the table.  

Stick to basics

Do not litter, you may not find dustbin everywhere. However, you may carry a bag with you, collect your trash in it, and dispose it off later in the designated space. 

Judicious usage of resources should be practiced as a way of life and not limited to travel. And this is my WHY and greater purpose in life too “to use art and travel to educate and empower sensitive young minds to conserve our planet”. 

(Check out Kanika’s Instagram here)

(The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. Let Me Breathe neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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