Sustainable and Convenient Travel Tips

At this time when we are all packing our bags to head off on holidays, Shea Wittig shares her sustainable travel experience with us. Read on for some great tips to help keep our planet waste free and beautiful for us all.

“Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.” Chief Seattle

The most exhilarating activities, when exploring a new area or country, are often found when you step away from the heavily promoted tourist track. Sticking to the main road might feel more comfortable, but stepping sideways is when the magic really happens. Submersion in the culture, spending time and money with local people and their businesses and allocating ‘no plan' days are when you really begin to feel alive and create memories to look back on long after you return home. Those who regularly take their children on such adventures will appreciate that whilst intentionally getting ‘lost' as you wander and explore, you also {happily} become oblivious to the time. Sentences such as “I'm hungry” or “I need a drink” can therefore catch you off guard. Let's face it, hearing those words can start alarm bells and are known to be just as inconvenient as “quick Mum, I'm busting”, at a time when there are either no toilets to be seen or the queue stretches for miles.

You can't beat the convenience of being able to pull food out-of-the-bag during the day, right then and there, to top up energy levels. No queues, no searching for appropriate menus and a simple solution to relieve pressure off the holiday budget. There is nothing quite like sitting down and eating fresh strawberries, crisp apples and juicy citrus and/or stone fruit brought directly from the local market. Butter some bread in a reusable bread bag, when it is still warm from the bakery just discovered down the road, or enjoy leftovers from the amazing cuisine sampled the night before at a local restaurant. Packing all these delicacies for a picnic is made easy with a bit of prior preparation, and that means remembering to pack your reusables and bring them along for the trip. Many of us, as parents, have already discovered the convenience of packing lunch boxes and filling water bottles before leaving the house with children each morning. Why not continue this sustainable routine, for all family members, while travelling. Just like you would pop them in your car on a day trip, pop them into your suitcase for your trip of a lifetime. National Geographic defines sustainable and responsible travel in their Sustainable Travel Guide as:- “…conserving natural resources, supporting local cultures, and making a positive impact on the places we visit.” Here are five of the steps, out of the suggested 50, which, although are small, have a positive impact when consistently adapted.

1. Carry your own water bottle

Tap water is safe to drink in more countries than you think. For those countries which aren't, consider taking a water bottle fitted with a built in filter, or check with your hotel for a dispenser available to guests.

2. Bring a reusable shopping bag

Reusable shopping bags are perfect for transporting delicious fresh produce purchased from the local market or treasures you come across along the way. Also convenient for sitting on while watching a performance, or even having a picnic.

3. Pack a meal to go – supports other efforts to eat local food and minimise your waste

So lunch boxes are packed, complete with ice bricks, an assortment of stainless steel containers, sandwich wraps (doubles as a placemat) and snack bags, just as if it was a normal school day. Actually with all that walking around, exploring and extra adventures you will quite possibly find yourself reaching for your picnic more often than you thought. Eliminating unnecessary packaging and waste is great sustainable role modelling while also preventing an episode of the ‘hangries'.

4. Buy from local artisans

Choosing local, fair trade, homemade, handmade and unique items provides support for the community. Even cosmopolitan cities have neighbourhoods, which are off the beaten tourist map and are filled with hidden gems which uncover the spirit of the everyday local culture. And again, don't forget that reusable shopping bag to minimise plastic waste, especially in developing societies.

5. Respect local cultures

Things are different when you leave home - that is what makes travel so uplifting and exciting. If you can't relax and enjoy yourself unless things are similar, if not the same, then perhaps taking an all-inclusive and relaxing holiday is more your style. One of the biggest childhood lessons I was taught was ‘do unto others as you would like them to do to you'. Remember that advice on your travels and you will be well on your way to embracing change and experiences way beyond your wildest dreams. For more inspiration have a read through the remaining Sustainable Travel tips which encourage us to journey responsibly and still have fun. The world is your oyster after all…

More Links:

Want to go on holidays but lacking inspiration? Check out our Travel & Adventure Books collection for ideas on places to travel, travelling ethos and adventuring inspiration.

Our blog post on Zero Waste Travel.

Danica Ratte's story of culture & personal discovery in SE Asia.

Shop our collection of travel accessories.

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