What is Eco-Friendly Travel? Being Prepared

Being a more earth-conscious traveler begins long before you enter the LEED platinum lobby of your eco-friendly hotel. In fact, most of being more earth-conscious in any area of your life is in the preparation. Our modern world is built on a system where things are made, used and disposed of - often after just one use. To reduce or mitigate waste in this world means bringing your own alternatives to the table until our system catches up to provide them for us. Here are the steps I take and recommend to others seeking to be a more responsible traveler:

Step one: Research

A lot of research goes into planning a trip, but even more so when planning a trip responsibly. Before I head somewhere new I not only look into earth-friendly lodging options (in most places, an airbnb is going to be better than even your average “eco” hotel), but take time to map out the best vegan and sustainably-sourced restaurants (food is very important to me) as well as how to get around without relying too much on cars. As someone who lived in Chicago without a car for the better part of a decade I promise public transport is not that intimidating AND makes you feel more like a local AND makes great people watching! Alternatively, electric scooters and bike-shares in cities aren’t just emission-free but SO fun to use. When I lived in San Diego I used Bird scooters to get around downtown all the time. I could be having a terrible day, but I swear as soon as I stepped on a Bird I’d feel like a kid again. Once I have my research done, I input all my points of interest, notes and best routes on my personal Google Map - labeled especially for the trip.

Step two: Pack your snacks

Airports are full of delicious-smelling and waste-producing, grab-and-go food options. Even the rare healthy grab-and-go meal comes with bags, wrappers, napkins and plastic cutlery. To avoid relying on these while traveling I always pack a little Tupperware container with nuts, cheese, chips, dried fruit or, every so often, homemade cookies…after all, the more I crave what I pack the less likely I’ll be to buy something else. 

Step three: All the reusables

My carry-on - in addition to my snack container - always has these three things: 

    1. Reusable coffee cup

    2. Empty reusable water bottle

    3. Reusable bag

Once I get through security, my next stop is to fill up on coffee and water before I board my plane. This prevents having to rely on plastic bottles and coffee cups which don’t breakdown EVER and account for some of the most commonly reported trash on beaches around the world. It also means when the well-meaning flight attendants come around to offer a splash of water in a tiny, single-use plastic cup, you can politely decline while staying caffeinated and hydrated to your hearts content. And that reusable bag? Perfect for when I’m picking up books or magazines for the trip at a Hudson News. Not a reader? Trust me, it will still come in handy at some point on your trip.

With these simple preparations you’re well on your way to being an earth-conscious traveler. Need a reminder? Download the FREE Earth Regarded packing list here and save a screenshot to your phone to refer back to before your next trip. Of course, if you’d rather leave the details to someone else, Earth Regarded Travel can take on all the preparation, booking and on-the-ground support so all that’s left for you to do is explore this beautiful planet guilt-free. 

So, where to next?