Travel during the pandemic has been difficult at times and impossible at others, with airlines, governments and institutions imposing strict and sometimes tough-to-follow entry requirements and guidelines that have ultimately led to a complete deterioration of the industry as a whole.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the deterioration of the travel industry initially led to a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions, but a recent study showed that after the initial shockwave, emissions bounced back. Why was this? And perhaps more importantly, how can we buck the trend and make sure that emissions not only stay lower than pre-pandemic levels, but continue to drop?
Is sustainable travel possible?
Whilst giving advice from behind a laptop screen is all well and good, when put into practice, travelling sustainably is hard!
Even the most die-hard eco-warrior has to admit that avoiding single-use plastics and keeping track of your personal emissions impact can become an overly complicated procedure when faced with language barriers, culture shocks and the temptation of Thai street noodles (served in a plastic pot)!
Our first piece of advice and arguably the most important one is not to focus on perfection, but to focus on self-betterment and learning! Improve how you travel every trip you take and share your secrets with others. If you use a plastic water bottle every once in a while, don’t let it get you down. Move on, keep learning and continue to improve!
Acknowledging your mistakes and learning from them is important, but actual change and real actions are crucial as well, so here is a list of our 5 top tips for travelling sustainably after Covid! While this list won’t make you a carbon-neutral traveller, it will definitely put you on the right path!
1. Purchase Greener Flights And Offset Your Emissions
Most people assume that travelling sustainably starts when you step off of the plane, but in reality, it starts when you book your flight! Over recent years, Boeing and Airbus have been consistently improving the efficiency of their aircrafts, and while we can’t yet take a trip over to the South of France carbon-neutral, there are easy (and free) ways to cut the carbon-cost of your family holidays!
If, like most people, you book your flights online, try using Skyscanner. Skyscanner is a UK-based comparison site that aggregates flights and shows you the quickest/cheapest deals available! But it also has another great function… It shows you the flights that emit the least amount of carbon. Check out this example of a flight from London to New York.
If you can afford to change your schedule by just a few extra hours, then you can reduce your carbon footprint by a whopping 20% and it won’t cost you a penny more!
But why stop there?
There are hundreds of services out there that can calculate the total emissions of your flight and plant trees that suck carbon out of the atmosphere, offsetting the impact of your trip! Check out this handy guide for more information.
2. Take Sustainable Products Abroad With You
Emissions are just one piece of the jigsaw when it comes to sustainable travel. Waste is a big issue too, and with an estimated 8 million tons entering our ocean every year, it’s a problem that we can’t afford to ignore. For perspective, 8 million tons is roughly equivalent to thirty six times the weight of every elephant on Earth.
Here’s the cool thing though. It’s not difficult or expensive to build a “plastic-free travel kit”. Here is a list of a few easy-to-use items that you can purchase to reduce your waste dramatically whilst travelling after the pandemic:
– Safety razors and shaving soap
Say goodbye to cartridge razors and cans of shaving foam, make the switch to safety razors and shaving soaps! These relics of the past may just prove vital in the future. Safety razors last a lifetime and cost a fraction of the price of a disposable razor. What are you waiting for? Just in case you were wondering, you can take a safety razor on a plane and here’s how!
– Sustainable street food kits
Make plastic and styrofoam containers a thing of the past and switch to a sustainable street food kit! Enjoy your salads, noodles and french fries the sustainable way with a metal lunchbox and bamboo cutlery set (straw included)!
– Vegan skincare
We are huge fans of LUSH and everything that they do. From shampoo bars to solid perfume, LUSH has a sustainable and vegan-friendly alternative for every section of your skincare routine. Visit LUSH.
– Reusable water bottles
Whether you holiday in cities, beaches or countryside retreats, we all need water. Stay hydrated and dodge single-use plastic bottles with a reusable metal water bottle! You can find more than 280,000 refill points using the refill app!
– Produce bags (that double as laundry sacks)
Travelling long-term? Reusable (and compact) produce bags are a must! Top tip, when you’re not shopping these stylish sacks make the perfect laundry bag!
3. Try Travelling Locally
Now, bear with us on this one! As a British person, the mere suggestion of holidaying in the UK is often followed by a round of scoffing, but our little isles have more to offer than you may think! (And I am sure wherever you’re reading from does too!)
Traditionally, the Lake Districts, London and Cornwall may be the most popular spots for British staycationers, but we’ve produced this great list of British Holiday destinations that offer something a little bit different! (Complete with journey times from the nearest big cities).
4. Opt For Eco-Resorts, Small BnBs Or Even Camping!
Some readers may be familiar with eco-resorts and may have even stayed in one, but for those of you who haven’t visited an eco-friendly hotel, don’t be scared! Not every eco-resort pushes you into a soul-searching journey of self-discovery, followed by Reiki.
In fact, most eco-resorts are situated within nature and offer guests a chance to relax and unwind in a more sustainable way. Need some inspiration? Check out this list of the 12 best eco-resorts around the world!
5. Avoid Purchasing Specifically For Your Trip
Have you ever been guilty of buying a full wardrobe specifically for a vacation, only to come home and never wear any of it again?
Next time around, why not try using what you already have? Make use of old clothes that have long been forgotten about. If you really don’t have anything that’s suited for the occasion, why not pop into your local charity shop or go online and find some second-hand gems at Depop! If you’re on the fence, read this article detailing why we should buy second-hand clothes and we guarantee you’ll want to give it a go!
Not everyone is comfortable with purchasing second-hand clothes and that’s completely fine! In that case, make sure that when you do buy, you buy things that last! Here is a guide that explains how to spot high-quality clothes vs. clothes that will deteriorate within months!
We’ve also tracked down this great list of ways to upcycle the clothes that you already have! Turn your old flared jeans into jean shorts, make a headband out of an old shirt, there’s plenty of easy-to-make ideas that will save you money and reduce waste!
What Effect Will The Pandemic Have On Travel In The Long-Term?
Armed with our top tips, you should be ready to put on your backpack and reenter the world, knowing that this time around, you’ll be responsible for less emissions and hopefully using a lot less single-use plastic! But given the monumental impact that the pandemic has had on every area of our lives, what impact will it have on travel and how can we adapt?
From scientists to airline bosses, over the past few months almost everyone has come out and agreed that travel is going to rebound, and rebound big! Whilst that may be true, it’s certainly not all doom and gloom. What the pandemic has given us is time to reflect, and think about how we as a society and as individuals are mistreating our world.
We can’t read the future, nobody can, but if we as a society turn those thoughts into real-life actions then the pandemic could be the critical turning point in the fight against waste and climate change.