It is of course the Talk of the Day, sustainable living and if you travel more sustainable because you have already made a super polluting flight to arrive at your destination. At a time when sustainability is an important theme and even ‘flightshaming’ is being talked about, can we still travel far or short by plane?
Still, even for short trips, I think that you should just go abroad. We see more and more in the news that tolerance for each other, for other cultures and other people in the world is decreasing. Who knows, maybe this will give us some more understanding for each other or at least that good feeling will be expressed and shared on social media etc. It is a fact that when people know each other, having spoken show understanding for each other.
I keep mentioning this because the other side gets so much more attention. I find it so important that we experience that we are all human and essentially all want the same thing. A nice world for ourselves and our loved ones. During my travels I gained insight and understanding for the world of our fellow human beings.
But then of course I am in favour of doing what you do in a sustainable manner. I also travel a lot and like to go to different destinations outside Europe. Apart from the flights I take, because I can’t reach them over land within the time I have available, I still take the environment into account as much as possible and try to apply sustainable travel as much as possible.
At work I am known for always drinking my coffee out of a mug or cup and not grabbing a plastic cup every time. I often hear colleagues excusing themselves because they have grabbed a plastic cup after all!AWARENESS IN PROGRESS
A lot of coffee machines now also have paper cups, but apparently these are a bit more expensive and my employer still doesn’t choose to use them in every department. 🙁
What can I do if I want to Travel Sustainable?
Everyone does what fits within his or her life and actions. You do what you prefer or what fits within your life. Of course one goes a little further in that than the other. I don’t want to give up my traveling life and I ‘have to’ work full time so I can’t reach the destinations I want to visit by land within the given time I do have.
What do I do to travel sustainably…and live sustainably while I travel?
Bringing your own bottle and refilling it every day saves a lot of plastic. I usually travel in warmer countries, so I always want to have water with me. The last couple of years I got used to refilling my bottle of water every day at the hotel. There is almost always one of those big water bottles from which you can take chilled, fresh water. If you fill your bottle again before noon during lunch, I often manage to get through the day.
If you also want to be able to drink water from the tap, there are plenty of options lately. I also have the LifeStraw. A water bottle that purifies the water when you suck it from the bottle. I used it for a week when I was on the horse in Kyrgyzstan. It was really easy and good! Unfortunately my bottle leaks a little bit so if it falls over or is lying sideways in my bag everything gets wet. That’s why I didn’t really use it on later trips, but just brought a refillable litre bottle to take with me.
On your journey, of course, you’re going out for dinner… At least I will. It’s rare that I make my own food and if that’s the case it’s usually with a cooking class 🙂 I love good food and I like to taste the culture of where I am.
The best thing then is to eat as local as possible, of course. Of course you have to take hygiene into account. You don’t want to get sick if you are travelling. But if you see a streetfood place where there is a lot of costumers, sit down and eat there too! In your hotel or in a restaurant which is western … They’ll be fine, you don’t have to help them. But if you really want to support the local entrepreneur and taste the real local food then you’ve come to the best place!
What does this have to do with sustainable travel? The little local places don’t get their food from far away. So no transport companies have been hired to transport food, and the food comes from nearby.
Eat in people’s homes! You will have a super fun experience and the money you spend will go to the people you have contact with and share your dinner or lunch with! I did this in The Gambia with the organization Resirest
Did you know that the most polluting industry is the meat industry? The food all those animals have to eat and then be slaughtered to serve as food costs the world an enormous amount of forest… The cattle feed contains a lot of soy from South America and to grow this in large quantities, forests have to be cut down.
And so in order to be able to put your piece of meat on your plate, the habitat of other animals will be destroyed!
Did you know that 1 kilo of beef equals driving 180 km.
Streetfood in India
I’m seeing this for years already in India. Many places that serve street food ido it in biodegradable cups or plates. This not only looks super, they are made of banana leaves, but is also good for the environment. You also see a lot that the cups in which chai is served are made of clay. These are intended for single use and are therefore biodegradable.
Straws in drinks
You see them less and less, the plastic straws in a bottle of soda or with your glass of juice on a terrace. Try to say right away that you don’t have to have them and let them take them back with you. That way they know you haven’t used the straw and at least they won’t throw it away.
More and more you see the paper straws or even metal straws! Very good!
Get in contact with the local community
Mix with the people! Talk to them and really get in touch with them. Often the interest is present on both sides. You are curious about them and they are curious about your life. The best contact with people come from a remark or greeting in the street.
Also book local trips and cabs, bring your money to the country and not to the big companies that probably work from another country.
On your travels, you’ll meet other animals… That is of course interesting and often a part of why we travel. I saw the tiger last year! I wanted that for quite a long time and eventually I succeeded during a safari in Ranthambore NP in India. Of course I had seen the tiger before but not in its natural habitat.
How much prettier is it to see such a mighty beast walk by without it being captivated our fun?
Then ask yourself: are the animals treated well in their own environment?
Do you visit Zoos?
Considerations about zoos
For some species it has been a godsend so that the animal is not extinct: breeding programs… But yes… probably the cause of their extinction is man… So… this might not even have been necessary if we could have dealt with the world and nature normally and with respect for life.
In addition, it is very good for children to see animals. To learn about animals and to see the interaction between animals. But do they have to be captivated in a zoo for that?
Let’s just say I don’t like going to a zoo. It doesn’t make me happy and all I see are captivated animals taken from their own habitat for our pleasure.
Don’t sit on the back of an elephant…don’t take a monkey on your lap for a nice picture…and don’t pose with a half anaesthetized tiger next to you for that one picture!
When I thought I wanted to see certain animals I went on a trip to South Africa and visited Kruger National Park. A few years later, when I hadn’t had enough of that and wanted to see more wild animals and possibly work with them, I started volunteering in Kenya. I worked in the Tsavo East NP for a week as a ranger.
Sustainable Travel is Hot!!
I only buy souvenirs that I really want or can give away and will be used. We live in a consumer society and sometimes we don’t even think about why we buy something anymore.
Sustainable travel is being aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it.
I always ask myself if I really want it? Am I really going to do something with it? My experience is that most things stay in the cabinet or disappear in the trash after a certain time. The last few years I buy almost nothing…if I buy something then it’s for my house like a lamp / a cloth / a statue.
And when I buy something for someone else it is often something you can eat/drink or that I’m sure someone will use. I’m sure because I then consult and send a picture. The surprise may be a bit off but they are always as happy with it as they get it weeks later!
When you buy a souvenir, keep in mind that you are buying something that you support. So it is a responsible product. Where is it made? From what material? But more by whom? Everyone knows the images of the children who are put to work and make many hours. You don’t want children to work… and earn almost nothing…
And, uh… everything you take with you on the way back makes you heavier and costs more energy / fuel.
It is always very good to support the locals and if you look at it that way I would say buy a lot more. But then support the small local entrepreneur by buying some fruit that you can eat right away. Or at least a cup of coffee or tea along the road 🙂
Hiking or Cycling
Take a walking or cycling holiday! How more sustainable can you be when travelling? I’ve done it a number of times now and can definitely recommend it. Especially my 35 days as a pilgrim on the Camino Frances in Spain were ultimate! Slow travel is really super and to really relax physically and mentally it is the best way to travel if you ask me!
By this kind of activity, you can also achieve ultimate relaxation… So the daily effort of walking or cycling also lets you relax in the evening. And the mindful aspect of the same action for hours on end is very high. By cycling or hiking for hours you end up in a meditative state in which you get the mental process started in a good way!
Did you ever think about it that way?
Travel as light as possible
Being less heavy means that you use less energy in the plane, train or car. Every little bit helps, doesn’t it? And if everyone would do this, it would make a big difference! Advantages of light travel is that you might not have to check in your luggage when you travel by plane, so you can continue immediately after arrival.
In addition, you have less clothes with you and hopefully you wash them less often. And if you wash them, it’s a small wash and you can do that by hand with hopefully responsible soap 🙂 Usually I wash my underwear when I’m in the shower with my shampoo bar from Lush. Two birds with one stone!
Or would you like to travel further and visit more places in a short time? Then travel by train!
I love hiking for several days in a row. Of course I did the camino in 2016, my first hiking trip 🙂 This was really a great experience and since then I want to do it more often. I’ve also done shorter trips, Germany/Norway or cycling in Sweden. I can definitely recommend it!
I’m now looking to travel within Europe by train. If you’re really looking this doesn’t have to be much more expensive than the airplane and in terms of time it’s not that bad either. With the airplane you will also lose a whole day if you first have to drive from the east (where I live) to Amsterdam or Düsseldorf, Germany.
Outside of Europe?
Book your flight with as few transitions as possible.
If you are looking for a plane ticket you sometimes see the strangest transfer locations. The other day I saw a ticket to Jordan which was cheaper if I got on a plane in Düsseldorf, Germany but flew back to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, for a transfer. If I booked the same flight from Amsterdam I had to pay a lot more. Absurd of course! In the end I booked another ticket with another airline and luckily I didn’t have a much more expensive ticket but I flew straight to Amsterdam.
What are you willling to do for a pic?
Don’t always go that extra bit… Don’t take an extra step to take a picture. Apart from the fact that sometimes it just becomes unsafe, do realize that you might step on something and so you destroy something or you disturb an animal…
Remain aware that you are allowed to see something and that you should not necessarily be a part of it. When I’m somewhere I think it’s great to have contact with people like I said before … but when I’m in a national park or in nature it’s something I just don’t want to be. I’m allowed to see it … I shouldn’t be a part of it.
Snorkel or Dive without Sunscreen
When you go diving or snorkeling in that super beautiful coral reef area you don’t want to pollute it! So keep in mind that you have not just rubbed yourself with sunscreen before you go into the water. These creams are very polluting for the sensitive coral!
There are a number of creams that are sustainable and different terms are used online. Google on organic -, reef friendly -, vegan – or worry-free sunscreen.
You can see it everywhere in the hotels. A sign that you can put on your bed or in the bathroom that says you don’t need a new/clean towel. I can best 2 days with a towel, at home I don’t throw the towel in the laundry basket after using it once. I come out of the shwer clean, right?
Do you use those signs in the hotel room regularly?
But besides that you also have all those little soaps and bottles of shampoo etc. It always looks really nice! Then there is sometimes a shoe polish, a sewing kit and possibly a shower cap.
Are you using those little bottles? I don’t. I’ve been saving them up for a while. I took them all with me and if I was in a place where people didn’t have shampoo/soap oid, I’d hand them out. Since I am aware that I am helping with all the plastic waste I have stopped doing that.
I now see more and more often that there is a refillable holder that contains shampoo and liquid soap. Very nice!
What I’ve seen before in India is that shops don’t give plastic bags. Indian people have found a very nice alternative, they sew pieces of fabric that are left over or saris that are broken new bags. In Pushkar, Rajasthan, I got such a nice bag with every piece of clothing I bought!
There are also ‘plastic’ bags made of fabric. These are in exactly the same design as the plastic bags we know only of a thin fabric with often advertising from a shop or group of companies on it. These are visible throughout the country and I see lots of people walking with them. These bags of course last a long time and people use them for all kinds of purposes.
Do you want to limit your Plastic Footprint as much as possible? Then take a look at this site and download the app that is full of ideas to help you do that!
But, you often get a plastic bag with everything, especially in Asia at small shops such as Seven Eleven. Just don’t take them Show them that you brought your own bag and tell them that they are bad for the environment. Very often you see the employee staring at you as if you were telling her/him something new. If that is the case, I hope that person will think about it.
Spread The Word!!
Also in Asia! Sustainable travel also means that you want to contribute to a better world so tell and explain why!
Set a good example and hope you can make a difference!
Water is something that costs a lot to clean and is therefore an industry that is harmfull for the environment. So make sure you waste as little as possible! Shower no longer than necessary, especially in countries where water is already scarce. Do turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
Saving energy is what I think it all started with. When we became aware of the footprint we leave on the world, information campaigns started with the fact that we had to start saving energy.
If you’re in a hotel make sure you don’t leave all the lights on when you come in. To make a room look better all the lights are turned on 🙂 The air conditioning is also turned on at full power. Turn it down immediatly and not only when it gets too cold. Luckily in most hotels there are now cards to activate the electricity, so everything goes off when you are away but when it doesn’t…. Then turn everything off before you go outside to discover your surroundings! I know, sometimes the light switches are hard to find … but they’re here!
Book your trip with sustainable travelagencies
I always book my own trip and compose it myself. I mostly work together with local organizations and pay attention to the way I travel. But if you want to book from your homecountry with an organisation you know, of which you know others have booked and where western rules apply…. Do you take into account the fact that they also travel sustainably?
There are plenty of organizations that do that, pay attention!
For example, do they have the Travelife Certificaat?
Giving Candy / Pens
There are still quite a few people who do this. They bring candy or pens to hand out to the children. This doesn’t help the children… I understand you mean well with pens but I often wonder if the pens you give to children will also get to the home front…. Candy does get the way down to the belly, I do believe that… but pens don’t really interest them that much.
If you want to hand them out, go to a school and give them to the teachers!
You don’t want to stir up children’s begging behaviour and reward them positively by giving them candy. Nothing more annoying than children whining, right? Children like attention and so playing a game with them is generally so much more fun! Having contact in this way is fun and is sometimes a start to more contact with e.g. the parents or family.
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