24JUNTop 10 Practical Tips for Eco-Friendly Travel
Editor’s Note: Your safety matters. If you choose to travel, you are strongly encouraged to check for travel restrictions and to find out if there are any special requirements you need to know about before departure.
“Sustainable travel is all about creating a positive effect on the communities you visit. Leave the place better than you found it.”
—Jon Bruno, Executive Director of the International Ecotourism Society
Living a sustainable life does not necessarily have to be restricted to our time at home alone. In fact, it often goes beyond home, from where you decide to purchase your clothes to how you enjoy your summer holiday.
Most of us are fortunate enough to be able to travel to new places (locally or internationally) and experience the beauty that this world has to offer. To show appreciation for it, we aim to try our best to preserve the planet we live on.
Here are some eco-friendly hacks to try out the next time you go on a vacation.
1. Pack lightly
We’ve all been there where we end up packing ten pairs of pants for a one-week trip. Or we have felt obliged to use up every kilo we’re entitled to, based on our baggage allowance. Instead, remind yourself that when travelling by plane, every kilo counts. The heavier your suitcase, the heavier the plane, and the more carbon emissions it produces.
When packing, don’t ask yourself the ‘what if’ questions e.g. What if it gets too cold? What if I need an extra pair of heels? Only pack what you will actually wear. A tip would be to lay out your clothes before packing to create outfits. That way, you can visualise what you’d wear and avoid packing unnecessary items.
2. Search for eco-friendly accommodations
The place you choose to stay in while on vacation plays a significant role in sustainable travels. Before picking out a hotel, do your research and check out the sustainability policies of the hotels in your desired destination.
Prana Resort Nandana in Koh Samui, Thailand takes sustainability seriously. From cleaning beaches daily to ensuring its staff and suppliers avoid single-use plastic, Prana Resort understands that every step you take to reduce your carbon footprint counts—no matter how small or big the action.
3. Eat like a local
There are a number of benefits to eating like a local when you’re travelling. In addition to enjoying produce that is fresher and nutritious, the money you spend on local food also helps the local farmers and growers keep their jobs. Of course, this choice is also better for the environment because you help maintain farmland and keep farms in operation. Since the food is grown locally rather than shipped in, it reduces our carbon footprint. Prana Resort also sources products locally to reduce its carbon footprint and support the local community in the process.
4. Reduce plastic use
Did you know that it takes plastic 500 years to biodegrade? And currently the plastic waste island floating in the Pacific Ocean (also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) covers an area of 1.6 million square kilometers? If you have a love for the planet and appreciate travelling to beautiful destinations, you need to protect it. When travelling, take a reusable shopping bag with you to avoid single-use plastic bags. The same goes for water bottles and food wrappers, to name a few.
When you stay at Prana Resort, you may notice the nets used for garbage disposal. These nets can be emptied and reused to reduce plastic bag usage. The resort also uses drinking straws made from sugar cane or biodegradable, recycled paper. These small acts will help reduce the amount of microplastic pollutants that eventually end up in our waterways, causing irreparable damage to the ocean’s marine life and delicate ecosystem.
5. Take public transportation
Taking public transport rather than a private car is an eco-friendlier solution for getting around at your destination. Individual cars unnecessarily add to existing greenhouse gas emission levels, whereas public transport, like buses, is often more fuel-efficient or may run on electric or alternate sources of cleaner energy. Public transport can also be a chance for you to interact with locals. If you are new to the location and need guidance, ask the hotel concierge to get you on the right track.
6. Apply the same rules you have at home
When we are home, we are in the habit of switching the lights off when you leave the room, unplugging unused chargers and appliances, turning off the aircon, and so on. Remember to do the same when you are in a hotel. Every small act counts and makes a big difference.
7. Try decreasing meat intake for a week
By now, most of us know that red meat is one of the highest carbon contributors. Livestock farming produces a massive amount of greenhouse emissions and a global carbon footprint. Challenge yourself to reduce your meat consumption when you’re on vacation. Try vegetarian meals instead. It is not only healthier but tastes just as good, if not better!
8. Save paper
Use less paper when travelling. Choose to receive e-tickets to avoid unnecessary printing and your decision will save trees. Prana Resort has already reduced its paper usage when it comes to its hotel directory, menus and WiFi network. It now offers a TV channel to help you navigate the hotel and a QR code which you can scan to download the hotel’s app to give you instant access to all the property information you need on your mobile phone.
9. Support eco-friendly tour companies
Like eco-friendly hotels, tour companies and operators are also taking an eco-friendly approach to tourism. The goal of these types of tour companies is to offer travellers a fun experience while also protecting the environment. They do this by investing back into grassroots projects, on a local or global scale, and donating parts of their profits to charitable causes. Or, by ending elephant rides and addressing climate change. Before booking a tour, do your research and pick ethical tour operators.
10. Save water
Take the necessary steps to save water while on vacation, just as you would at home. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, cut back on bathing to take showers instead, and turn off the water while you lather up, shampoo or shave while you shower.
Also, if your towels don’t need to be washed every day, hang them up to signal to housekeeping that you are happy to use them again. By not asking for daily linen and towel changes, you will save both water and energy, and your trip will have a reduced impact on the environment as a result.
By now, we know the importance of protecting the environment. If your daily actions are more environmentally-friendly, you not only care for the ecosystem, but also save so many lives, animals, plants and crops. Most of us practice good habits at home, but these good habits sometimes fall by the wayside when we are on a vacation.
Remind yourself to practice the same habits you practice at home while you’re at a hotel. If you’re planning to travel to Koh Samui in Thailand in the future, be sure to check out Prana Resort Nandana for a more environmentally friendly travel experience.