7 Ways To Travel Sustainably

Zero-waste and slow travel advocate Soumya Manthena on keeping your carbon footprint light
Ways To Travel Sustainably
Soumya Manthena is a zero-waste and slow travel advocate

The biggest misconception when it comes to sustainable travel is that it is expensive. It is most often thought of as “luxury travel,” and that is far from the truth. Choosing trains, opting for off-season travel, avoiding plastic water bottles, and choosing local cuisines and accommodations instead of big-name chains are great ways to make your travel more budget-friendly. Responsible tourism is a choice you make. It may not be the most popular choice, and it does take a little extra time and research, but it’s not as expensive or elitist as it is touted to be.

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Embrace slow travel or off-season travel. Try spending more time absorbing the culture and essence of a destination instead of just ticking off a to-do list. Off-season travel is also a great option as it puts less pressure on the local ecosystem and gives you a wholesome and relaxed experience with fewer crowds.

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Pick your destination according to your interests, and don’t let those “most popular travel destinations of the year” posts on social media decide your place of travel. Choose destinations and experiences that are likely to enrich your understanding of the world, which is what travel is meant to do.

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Avoid air travel whenever possible. Take a train or a bus instead of flying, as it cuts down emissions by nearly 90 per cent. Trains are also more comfortable and pocket-friendly.

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Look for eco-conscious accommodation. Hotels that consciously avoid single-use plastic, have systems for recycling their solid waste, practise rainwater harvesting, and run on renewable power are better choices. Similarly, locally owned accommodations and homestays leave a minimal impact. Plus, your money will go into local residents’ pockets.

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Avoid single-use disposables by carrying your own water bottle, coffee mug, carry bag, etc. Water can be easily refilled at cafés, restaurants, or accommodations. Also, pack your own soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste etc. The toiletries offered in hotels mostly come in tiny plastic bottles or sachets, which have a very small chance of being recycled.

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Bring back your trash. If you do end up using some single-use plastic, make sure to bring it back to the hotel or carry it back home to your city. This is especially important if you are travelling to eco-sensitive or remote areas which don’t have concrete recycling facilities. The plastic we leave behind ends up choking the surrounding environment.

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Support the local economy by eating local cuisine to reduce your food miles and keep the culinary heritage of the place alive. Support local craftsmen and opt for place-specific experiences and guides. Contributing to the local economy is an often overlooked but important part of sustainability.

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