New year always means new resolutions and as travellers we need to take some time to reflect on all the memories we made around the globe and, even more important, to start planning our next adventures. With this in mind, whether you’re thinking about your graduation trip, your next holiday with the kids or the journey of your life backpacking through Asia, there’s a few steps every one of us needs to take to become a more responsible traveller.
The main reason why we travel is the love we have for the unknown, a personal challenge with ourselves that take us on an endless quest to discover the vastity of a world that seems to be unattainable.
We are now entering a new decade and I would be a fool if I didn’t know the biggest problem our planet is facing right now is climate change, more serious and urgent than ever. It is our duty, as travellers and therefore lovers of the earth, to take care of it and make sure our actions will not destroy our Mother.
But what can we do to make the right choices when we travel and help the planet recover?
Here’s six New Years Resolutions everyone should have, in order to become conscious travellers:
1. Bring a reusable water bottle with you all the time
If you’re not living under a rock, you’ll know the worst enemy of the planet, at the moment, is plastic. What can we do in our everyday life to reduce our use of plastic?
Whether you’re at home or travelling, always remember to bring a reusable water bottle with you at all times. They come in several different materials, sizes and colours. But what are the best options for travel? I wouldn’t go for the glass bottles, even though they are extremely comfortable and probably among the most advanced technologies right now, because they also are extremely fragile and we couldn’t leave them in our backpack without fearing they’re gonna break any minute. Plastic bottles are certainly better when it comes to that aspect but, avoiding plastic, even when it’s not single use, has never been easier. Stainless steel reusable water bottles are maybe the most popular water bottles right now, and I can tell you from personal experience they are extremely practical. The only catch? You need to wash them very often and, with time, the material will start rusting and will damage the water inside. The newest (and maybe best) solution for reusable water bottles right now might be a copper bottle. As the UK brand Global WakeCup says, “drinking water from pure copper bottles has long been associated with good health and promoting well being. It can help reduce inflammation, improve digestion and boost your immune system. Copper can also remove bacteria from drinking water due to its antimicrobial properties”. If you’d like to give their copper bottle a try, here‘s the link where you can find it.
2. Plastic free toiletries
We often find ourselves having to compromise when it’s time to pack because there is just no way we can fit everything in that cabin luggage. What’s the first thing we are ready to sacrifice in those cases? Let’s be honest, toiletries don’t always make the cut. How many times have you left your shower gel at home because “I’m sure the hotel is gonna have a soap bar I can use”? Soap bars are amazing and if you’re ready to make the switch to a plastic free bathroom than you should definitely make them your first purchase, but unfortunately soap bars we DO find in hotels 99% of the times are single-wrapped in unnecessary plastic. Next time you’re packing for your upcoming trip, try and bring all your toiletries with you and maybe leave at home the tenth t-shirt you were planning to pack “just in case I need it”. Trust me, you won’t need it.
3. More houses, less hotels
I am not questioning the fact that for a one night business trip the easiest solution is without a doubt a comfortable hotel room, but if you are planning to travel for more than one day (whether it is for business or pleasure) then you might want to consider more conscious and eco friendly options. If you’re on a budget and you can’t afford to stay in one of the stunning ecolodges that are super popular now, go for the cheaper option and choose an apartment or airbnb. This way, you’ll be in charge of all your daily energy consumption: just think of the air conditioning system that you won’t have to leave on 24/7, all those corridor lights constantly switched on for no reason and a definitely more moderate utilisation of electrical goods. I know for a fact you don’t wash your bedlinen every single day when you’re at home, so why would you do it when travelling or let anyone else do it for you? It is just a sequence of small things, but if you pay closer attention to these details for the whole duration of your holiday I can assure you you will make a positive impact on earth, and on your wallet! Just to name another reason why you should choose an apartment instead of a hotel, you will enjoy a whole different level of freedom that you won’t want to give up on anymore.
4. Eat local
The biggest impact on costs during a holiday, after flight and accommodation, is undoubtedly food. By booking a house or apartment instead of a hotel you will not only spend a lot less money on food, but you will be able to get a more focused shopping that will not damage the earth. Go to the supermarket and buy only the things you really need so that you can avoid wasting, but more importantly buy wisely. If you always buy loose fruit and vegetables when at home, why not do it when you’re on holiday? A good way of buying only natural, organic, local products is to visit the city markets. There, you will find some of the best foods and you will truly understand the place you’re visiting and the culture of its people. Don’t forget to bring a tote bag with you at all times, say no to plastic bags even when they’re free and be proud of fighting this battle for the earth.
This doesn’t mean you will not be allowed restaurants for the rest of your life, just try not to eat out every day when on holiday: like when you’re at home, make it a special occasion. Do a research before your departure and choose that one restaurant that differs from all the others and that you really want to try, it will become an important place for your visit as much as a monument or museum!
5. Avoid flying
Flying is, nowadays, the cheapest and fastest way of travelling without a doubt. It is also the most harmful. Just think of the fact a one hour flight from London to Paris emits 250kg of CO2, while the same journey with two hours by train is equivalent to 22kg of CO2 emissions. A few airlines like EasyJet are now building their new campaign around offsetting, but you just need to do a bit of research to understand this is not a permanent solution to the earth’s problems, it will actually give these airlines more time to stall while waiting for an effective answer. With this in mind, it is absolutely not my intention to criticise EasyJet or any other airline that is now promoting offsetting, in fact I truly appreciate their efforts to addressing the problem and starting to look for a solution, but trying to find another way to travel whenever possible is something we all can do, starting from now, with zero efforts. Besides, travelling by train will give you the opportunity to admire breath taking views and start taking in new and exciting experiences from the very beginning of your journey.
6. Respect the earth around you
Wherever you decide to go on holiday and whatever the reason for your visit is, always be extremely respectful of the environment around you. Don’t litter or throw cigarette butts on the ground, don’t step on or tear flowers from parks, don’t steal shells and sand grains from beaches and don’t climb up historical monuments just for that insta-worthy picture. Respect comes before anything else, so always remember to respect your home, the planet.
Have you already planned your 2020 travels? What are your New Year’s resolutions?