Staying green on the road

Heading overseas soon? You lucky bum! How good! Lots of your friends probably dislike you temporarily out of envy! But that’s ok, you’re the one going overseas, you can hack it.

But hold on a tic, have you thought about how you’re going to maintain your impressively small environmental footprint while you’re away? I know, it’s a daunting prospect for the environmentally-conscious traveller.

The sad reality is that your green-cred will almost never be as high as you manage at home, but it definitely doesn’t have to get blown out to all buggery. There’s heaps of easy things you can do to eco-travel like a champ and I’ve jotted down the best ones below:

Stay in eco accommodation

Yep, beginning with the bleeding obvious. Look out for environmentally-conscious hotels and hostels, many specifically marketing themselves as ‘green’ accommodation in the knowledge that there are wonderfully mindful people out there like you. As for the “greenest” overnighter – a tent!

Travel light

Surely everyone vibes off the novelty of living with less? Having less things = lighter luggage = less decisions = more enjoyment. They say there’s nothing sweeter than the carefree feeling of having all your possessions on your back, but its less sweet when your bag weighs a freaking tonne. Oh, and don’t just immediately panic-buy the things you forgot when you realise you forgot them. See how you go with what you did bring first.

Bring basics

Like these: water bottle, tote bag. Coffee cup for all rogue liquids, hot and cold. Bamboo cutlery set that weighs nothing and is easy to keep clean. BYO eco toiletries! I know, that shower cap and mini plastic toothbrush come ‘free’ with the room, but that doesn’t make you actually need them more, does it?

Ride bikes

Hopefully we can agree that cycling at leisure around a foreign place is as close to winning at life as possible. Renting a bike is a no-brainer when you’re traveling. You get to see HEAPS for low cost and zero-emissions (and work up a hunger for some scrumptiously weird food, bringing us to the next point).

Eat local

Look, it goes without saying that eating at a global fast-food chain somewhere far-flung with its own unique and exotic cuisine is a proper copout. The easiest way to green your travel diet is prioritising vegetarian food from local markets. Aside from the high chance of discovering brain-meltingly delicious new foods, local grub is pretty much guaranteed to be the most eco-friendly choice in terms of food miles and overall impact. Cheap, too.

Be smart with laundry

It’s not hard to figure out what clothes to pack so that you don’t need to be doing washing every few days. Showering with your undies on and turning them inside out to wear again when they’re dry to save an unnecessary load of laundry is nothing to be ashamed of. If that grosses you out, remember there was a time undies didn’t exist, and it really wasn’t that long ago.

Don’t freak out when your phone dies

In fact, embrace it. Smartphones have been around for a blink of an eye, but we’re somehow already at a stage where most people carry a backup battery? Did I miss something? Phonelessness is mentally liberating and will reduce your personal energy usage to a fraction of your daily use back home. Traveling is the perfect opportunity to put your phone away as much as possible. Stop and smell the roses!

Bring a solar panel

Does that sound crazy? Promise you it’s not – you can get a lightweight foldable solar panel with 2 usb-ports for under $100, giving you guilt-free juice without the inevitable headache of travel adapters. It will also power your things in the middle of nowhere, reviving your phone just in time to capture that moment in the wilderness.

Use common sense

Traveling domestically will have a far lighter ecological rucksack than an international adventure. Flights will always produce more emissions than overland travel: choose buses and trains, or squish heaps of stuff in a tiny car and go deep into a country’s roadmaps. Don’t buy garbage souvenirs as token gifts; your mates are already jealous, remember? No need to slap them in the face with a trinket you didn’t think through. Write postcards instead.

Travelling really doesn’t have to come with a massive environmental tax. Be mindful of your decisions and remember every little thing you can do to reduce your impact is worth doing.

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Roland Davies

Roland Davies (a.k.a. "Lucky Roland") is the voice and author behind the Lucky Roland blog and podcast, a curation of eco stories and inspiration that digests the ABC's Environment News in a listenable way to encourage us humans to green up our lives. Roland is also the founder of Emu Parade, a beach clean movement that's working to remove tonnes of rubbish from Australia's most remote beach systems.

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