Traveling lightly

blog-travel-squareI recently took a vacation… and a guilt trip.  It is so hard to keep your impact low when you’re traveling.  First, there’s the air travel – that is hard to avoid when taking a long trip.  So, let’s look past that for now.  (I have mixed opinions about carbon offsetting.)  I’m going to show you how to lower your travel footprint (and save money) with some easy tips.

Have you ever eaten in an airport?  It’s either a) disgusting, b) expensive or c) both.  I was recently traveling with 2 pre-teens and decided to make us each a PB & J sandwich to take on the trip.  I also packed snacks – granola bars and fruit.  (I’ve learned that if you have food, you are a pre-teen’s best friend!)  They have an enormous amount of energy and can’t seem to eat enough.  The sandwiches went over great, and we saved lots of dough.  (Not to mention the waste from the packaging and the unknown original of the food ingredients.)

What I didn’t plan for, however, was beverages.  As we all know, large amounts of liquids are no longer allowed on planes.  However, I should’ve brought empty water bottles or plastic cups (BPA-free).  We could’ve filled them at a drinking fountain or a food stand (for free or a small charge).  You could ask that your beverage be put in your own plastic cup instead of their disposable one.  Also, I should’ve brought my reusable travel coffee mug.  I regret that I left it at home.

We did end up getting a small amount of food during the layover.  For this, I recommend a reusable cutlery set – they sell sustainable bamboo sets in a little carry case.  Honestly, I hope airline food vendors soon switch to compostable dishes and cutlery.  It would be an environmental boon.

I do notice that airports are starting to put out recycling cans next to the garbage cans.  Please, whenever you are in an airport, use these receptacles for your bottles and cans.  If you can’t find any, let an airport employee know that you’d like to see these in the future.  Remember, consumers drive demand.

Also, I am going to start bringing reusable, cloth napkins when I travel.  They can be washed out in sinks during your trip, and they will dry quickly.  No more disposable napkins!

If you do all these things on your trip (and buy the supplies locally where possible), you will go a long way toward reducing your impact while traveling.  We do not have to be so wasteful when we’re away from home – we just have to be prepared.  Next time I travel, I will be!

My list of essentials is:

– Reusable water bottles/cup
– Reusable coffee mug
– Cloth napkin
– Bamboo cutlery set
– Home-made lunch
– Healthy snacks

You should have enough for each traveler in your group.  They can be used at airports, around town, theme parks, resorts – anywhere you might encounter wasteful, disposable options.

Traveling lightly is easy and saves money and guilt.

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