Simple actions can make a big difference! Here are some easy-to-follow tips to help travelers begin their sustainable journey!
With travel restrictions lifting and country borders reopening, people are eager to get back out there and experience the world once again. While sun-drenched beach escapes with the family and romantic weekend getaways are firmly back on the calendar, many travelers are also thinking more responsibly about the impact of their trips. In fact, recent sustainable travel research commissioned by Booking.com reveals that traveling more sustainability is important to 97% of Vietnamese travelers*. Additionally, 72% of Vietnamese travelers say that recent news about climate change has been the impetus to make more sustainable travel choices. So, as new vacay plans come into place, what other actions can be taken to safeguard the planet more while setting out to explore it?
Traveling more sustainably isn’t just about the places visited or the methods of transport taken to get there. It can start before ever leaving home by taking a more mindful approach to packing the proverbial bags. By carefully considering the contents, as well as packing a little lighter, travelers can keep their personal travel footprint to a minimum. Less weight means planes burn fuel more slowly and, with 32% of Vietnamese travelers in the past year choosing to travel lighter as a result, it’s a positive step towards reducing the carbon emissions associated with their trips. Even travelers escaping to their chosen destinations by train, car, bike, boat or foot, can pack a few mindful essentials that will help them further minimize their impact. With that in mind, Booking.com – one of the world’s leading digital travel platforms – shares a helpful packing guide with more mindful must-haves for this year’s sustainable suitcase.
Trusty eco-friendly toiletries
Bathroom cabinet contents have benefited from an eco-makeover in recent years, with more sustainable options now available in place of toiletries that use non-recyclable plastic. For those who are keen to pack lighter and more sustainably, there are game-changing shampoo and conditioner bars that don’t use plastic packaging and won’t weigh a case down. Taking advantage of multi-purpose items is an innovative idea as well, for instance, a lightweight towel can also be used as a scarf, a skirt or a beach blanket.
For travelers planning to take to the water on their getaway, consider the sustainable credentials of the SPF too – particularly travelers who will be visiting and swimming in areas with sensitive ecosystems such as coral reefs. The chemicals in sunscreen can be harmful to the ocean and aquatic life, so ensure it’s labeled ‘reef-safe’ before it makes its way into the suitcase. Likewise with mosquito repellent, some chemicals can be damaging to the planet, so consider switching to a natural option that uses citronella or peppermint instead to keep the bugs away. These simple switches are a great option for more than half (60%) of Vietnamese travelers who consider preserving the wildlife and natural habitats of their chosen destinations a key part of sustainable travel.
Embrace zero waste
It’s no secret that limiting single-use plastic is one of the greatest environmental challenges faced, with an estimated 91% of plastic currently not recycled and ending up in the ocean or landfill. Travelers can make some simple swaps when packing, thinking about what reusable items they might need on their travels. Many travelers are already considering dinner time sustainable swaps, with 74% planning to be more conscious about their food consumption while traveling, such as choosing more vegan or vegetarian options, or eating organic/locally sourced foods. But it can also be more than what’s on the plate. If eating at a food market or dining on street food, then drop in some bamboo cutlery to avoid the single-use ones on offer. Sampling the local cocktail selection? Pack a metal straw and BYO to the bar. For those planning to do some shopping? Pack a tote bag to carry purchases. Thinking ahead about the reusable switches when traveling means travelers will naturally pack more mindfully.
Travelers can also make sustainable swaps while staying hydrated too. Instead of purchasing single-use plastic bottles of water during trips, consider a stainless steel alternative, which can be used for years and keep it topped up with drinking water wherever possible. For those venturing to destinations where the water might not be safe to drink, or those relying on natural water sources on camping and hiking trips, there are eco-friendly options too. Consider water purification tablets or a UV-light purifier – a small, lightweight wand-like item that emits UV light to destroy bacteria, viruses and protozoa (parasites) in water.
For some people, having a vacation ‘outfit of the day’ (OOTD) is even more important to them than picking what to wear at home. But that’s not to say that the OOTD can’t be a sustainable choice. Avoiding fast-fashion is an advised way to shop for our latest garms, but sustainability-savvy travelers can also pack mindfully too. Avoid over-packing by thinking about those versatile wardrobe staples that can be worn a few times over. Or take a color-coordinated approach, so more of the clothes mix and match and work well together. Paying more attention to the material index listed on the clothing tag is a minor yet significant action to travel more sustainably. Lessen the use of clothes made from fabrics with the worst environmental impact such as polyester and nylon; instead, pack “eco-friendly” materials into your travel fashion luggage (organic cotton, silk, linen…).
If traveling for a longer period of time, consider packing lighter with versatile, quick-drying clothes and doing laundry on the move to help conserve energy and minimize water usage on vacation. Many places to stay have a laundry service available or are often close to a laundry facility. There are a plethora of eco-friendly laundry options available these days, from detergent sheets and strips, to refillable options to switch to at home and decanter a small amount for travels. These options mean a lightweight option to pack, but also completely reduce plastic packaging.
Whether a consciously sustainable traveler like the almost a half (47%) now bringing their own products to minimize their impact or just looking for a few smart swaps to be more mindful during their next trip, thinking about what goes into the suitcase is a great way to have a more positive impact on the environment even before the actual traveling begins.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 30,314 respondents across 32 countries and territories (1,000 from USA, 958 from Canada, 1,009 from Mexico, 1,001 from Colombia, 1,003 from Brazil, 1,017 from Argentina, 1,000 from Australia, 486 from New Zealand, 998 from Spain, 1,003 from Italy, 996 from France, 495 from Switzerland, 980 from the UK, 998 from Germany, 1,014 from the Netherlands, 991 from Belgium, 985 from Denmark, 984 from Sweden, 964 from Croatia, 976 from Russia, 1,008 from Israel, 1,002 from India, 1,004 from China, 925 from Hong Kong, 1,006 from Thailand, 988 from Singapore, 1,002 from Taiwan, 1,004 from Vietnam, 1,004 from South Korea, 1,003 from Japan, 1,006 from South Africa and 504 from Kenya ). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months and must be planning to travel in 2022, and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in February 2022.