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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Barrera

5 Tips That Will Help You Travel More Sustainably & Lead With Value

Before you consider packing your bags and traveling abroad, there are a few critical things you need to keep in mind. When you choose to travel you have a responsibility to be extra cautious and respectful of both others and the environment.

Educate yourself on what you can do to lead with value. Do this by staying informed on what’s happening in the news and take relevant steps. This can mean supporting vulnerable communities or reaching out to areas that are seeking more resources.

If you have the opportunity to get vaccinated, do so. But beware that not all countries have access equal to vaccines, so be respectful and considerate. Take the required precautions and do your part. Follow the local regulations and guidelines, and stay safe. Don’t give yourself the freedom to travel without first being equipped to pay it forward and stay up to date with what’s going on where you plan to visit.

Here are some beginner-friendly ways you can start traveling more sustainably:

Be mindful

It’s easy to feel like there are big shoes to fill when it comes to practices that support the wellbeing of our planet. But shifting your mindset and being more thoughtful about how your actions impact your surroundings will do wonders for the environment and anyone you cross paths with.

Here’s something to ponder; the initiative people took to stay home in 2020 alone, was enough to improve air quality, reduce water pollution, and even contributed to a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions in various parts of the world.

All that to say, something as simple as choosing to bring your reusable grocery bag with you or deciding to shower instead of taking a bath, are still powerful ways you can contribute to change. It’s all about taking small steps and focusing on the difference you can make in the present moment.

Practice minimalism

At first glance, minimalism may sound difficult to achieve but it’s incredibly simple. Minimalism is about using what you have and encourages a lifestyle that’s efficient and free of stress and clutter.

You’ll quickly learn that an easy way to practice minimalism is to say “no” to things like single-use plastics and unnecessary package materials. Try going paperless and have your receipts and boarding passes emailed instead of printed. Ditch the plastic bags and other miscellaneous things like airline headphones and styrofoam cups.

Coming prepared with your own zero-waste kit, makes avoiding these situations a lot easier. In your kits, you can include things like reusable food containers, utensils, and a water bottle. You can even add in cool items like upcycled napkins made from fabric you don’t use anymore and metal/glass straws that can be easily washed.

Reuse & Recycle

We’ve heard it many times before… reduce, reuse, recycle! Traveling is no exception to these practices. When you’re looking to recycle in unfamiliar areas, ask questions because sometimes it won’t be clear or obvious where you need to recycle certain items.

Recycling can take some getting used to but once you get consistent with it you don’t settle for anything less. The important thing is to start. Even if it's a slow build at first, give yourself time to think through your actions. Pay attention to where each material needs to go and be intentional about seeking out the proper bins.

Limit energy usage

Besides being better for the planet, monitoring your energy consumption will save so much money. Get in the habit of checking to make sure appliances are turned off, like the air/heat when you leave out. Track your usage and don’t be afraid to turn it down if you think it's a bit excessive. If you’re staying at a hotel don’t send your towels to get washed every day and leave the “do not disturb” sign on your door to avoid unnecessary cleaning days. Only use these resources when you absolutely need to, otherwise, it’s best to utilize what you have. Some hotels even offer points for these green initiatives, so don’t hesitate to ask.

In some instances, appliances have energy-efficient settings you can use that will help preserve energy. You can also try air drying your towels and taking shorter showers. Go for walks or bike rides if the weather permits and the distance isn’t too far. Anything you can do that will require using less energy, is a better option.

Be resourceful

That reusable water bottle you got last Christmas? Time to put it to good use! Or maybe you forgot all about that gym bag you never use. It would be perfect for your next trip because it’s small but durable and lightweight. Being more environmentally friendly can require us to get a little creative but that makes it all the more fun!

Take advantage of the food products you buy because they can usually double as containers for other sources of food. Most people wouldn’t use their empty glass jars as a cup for water but that doesn’t mean you can’t. There are so many items we use that can be multi-purposed. Get creative, find what works for you, and stick with it.

You can even be resourceful with your energy! If you have good lighting where you are, choose to use the natural light available and avoid turning unnecessary lights on. If the weather is hot but breezy try opening a few windows to let the cool air in instead of using the fans or AC.

Being resourceful will help you learn to appreciate what you have more and not only do you become more efficient, you’re also a better problem solver too.

Be realistic with each of these tips. Don’t worry about what you can’t do. Instead, focus on your capabilities.

Gradually, you’ll become more intentional with how you interact with the world around you, as you start to notice how every move you make can lessen your carbon footprint.

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