For the socially conscious traveler, the decision to make a sustainable trip begins before you leave the house. There is the pre-trip research, booking a green hotel, purchasing carbon offsets, and even packing.
The decisions of what to pack and how much to pack can often be a difficult decision-making process ahead of a trip. Making sure the suitcase—and everything in it—sits well with your conscience can be even more complicated. Here are eight tips to making your trip more sustainable from the packing stages.
Lighten Your Load
The first tip is easy enough. From an environmental perspective, carrying the least weight possible, especially when flying, is a good start for reducing your carbon footprint. It also feels great when you aren’t bogged down by bags that threaten to break airport scales.
Switch From Books to Devices
There’s nothing like a classic novel based in your destination to get you fully immersed in a trip. And a travel guide is often essential, although they often weigh as much as a brick.
While weighing the environmental impacts of tech devices versus paperbacks is a nuanced debate, if weight is a top priority, then moving your books to the phone or e-reader (which you likely already own) is a winning idea. These devices can hold a library for a lifetime of holiday reading. If you can’t bring yourself to give up the tactile experience of turning pages of a paperback, consider donating the books at the end of your trip.
Think About Toiletries
There’s no need to abandon essential toiletries altogether, but there are some smart options to make your toiletries better.
You can almost always buy soaps and shampoo when you get to your destination. Chances are that the soap bar has already traveled halfway around the world to get to you. If you have a favorite brand that you can’t give up, carry small containers that provide you with just enough for your trip. Focusing on organic and eco-friendly products made without animal testing will keep you and your conscience clean on the trip.
Is snorkeling or diving in your itinerary? If you think you’ll need sunscreen, make sure what you pack is reef-friendly. While it’s no substitute to wearing a diving suit, sunscreen with natural ingredients like titanium oxide or zinc oxide haven’t shown harm to corals in studies.
Bring A Reusable Water Bottle
Liquid rules for airport security can be a pain, but don’t put yourself in a position where you’re buying and, importantly, immediately disposing of bottles throughout your entire trip. There are many great reusable water bottles that can help you minimize your environmental impact on a trip.
Pack Sustainable and Ethical Clothing
Clothing is probably the most important thing you’ll pack. It often defines what you’re prepared for, whether it’s hiking through dense forest, swimming at sea, or both. Choose clothing that is ethically produced. Did you know you could pack sustainable swimwear? Swimming suits and trunks made from recycled materials and by brands doing good with profits is on the rise.
Don’t Carry What You Can Rent
Hire sports equipment. It is almost as economical to carry your own surfboard, wetsuit or mountain bike with you, as it is to rent equipment. But, think about where the money you’re spending is going. Is it going to the huge airline that will treat your fragile precious surfboard that you’ve lovingly named Kylie like a sack of potatoes? Or could the money go to the small, sustainable shop or tour group that will help the local economy?
Choose A Solar Powered Charger
Finding and carrying electrical adaptors for the countries you’re visiting can be a pain. Additionally, finding power sources on a trip often has its own logistical issues too. Reduce your energy consumption and hassle, with solar powered travel gear.
Put All Of It In A Do-Good Suitcase
One of the most important factors that gets overlooked is the bag you actually pack everything in. There are a huge number of suitcases available on the market, in every conceivable size and shape. They now come with built-in batteries for charging your phone and other “smart” technology, but why not consider a bag that is 5 pounds lighter before you even put anything into it? Or one that is durable and made from recycled materials? There are numerous do-good suitcase brands to choose from.
Zygmunt, or "Ziggy" to family and all of you friends, travels the world, breathing visual storytelling. He lives behind a camera lens capturing the inexpressible moments that, in summation, become our life's story and a larger narrative on the human experience. He started The Wayward Post with Christina to share amazing travel photography and to inspire other people to travel and do good in the world.
When he's not behind a camera, you'll find him moving to a spot... where he'll then use his camera. Indulge yourself in his beautiful work at Zygmunt Spray Photography and 500px. Follow him on Twitter.