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It’s plastic-free July! As a traveler, we know how hard it can be to travel plastic-free. With that being said, there are plenty of ways to enjoy traveling without damaging the planet while doing so. 
Traveling is an exciting and essential part of life. It’s a chance to explore new places, experience new cultures, and gain a better outlook on life. Between transportation, accommodation, and all the energy spent on organized tours, however, mass travel is having a damaging impact on our planet. There are ways for you to be the greenest traveler you can be thanks to Mad Monkey‘s 10 helpful and eco-friendly tips! 

According to EPC, global warming is already having a detrimental effect on our planet. For example, “the polar ice sheets are melting, sea levels continue to rise, and there are increasing temperatures all across the globe.” It’s time that we all take responsibility for our planet and do our bit to reduce carbon emissions and help the environment.
While some greenhouse emissions are unavoidable when traveling, there are a number of things you can do to reduce environmental harm. Here are some tips on how you can become a more energy efficient traveler!


Get Your Home Holiday-Ready

Remember that green travel starts before you leave the house. With the excitement of your trip, don’t forget to prepare your home for the holiday before you leave. Make sure that you turn all the lights off, unplug all appliances from the wall, and lower the temperature on your thermostat. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, turn it off! Build some bonds you’re your neighbors and ask them if they can water your plants. This will ensure that your home is as energy efficient as possible while you’re away.


Get Your Home Holiday-Ready - Plastic-Free July: How to be a Responsible Traveler


Think About Your Mode of Transport

Unfortunately, the journey itself is one of the most polluting parts of traveling. TIES states that air traffic accounts for 10 percent of greenhouse gases worldwide. Traveling by boat or train is far more environmentally-friendly than flying, so try to opt for these modes of transport whenever possible. You should also think about how you’re going to get around once you reach your destination. Walking is not always an option so try to travel by bicycle or public transport. It’s a lot better for the environment than traveling by car – and it’s much cheaper!


Think About Your Mode of Transport - Plastic-Free July: How to be a Responsible Traveler


If you Fly, Fly Non-Stop

It’s totally understandable that you want to see some exotic countries on the other side world – this means that flying may be necessary from time to time. Fortunately, there are still ways to reduce your impact when flying. For instance, opting to take a direct flight is a far more environmentally way to travel, as the takeoffs and landings create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions. You should also try and fly on airplanes that are more energy efficient. It’s now possible to calculate the carbon footprint of your flight using apps such as MyClimate, which also offer advice on how to travel greener.


If you Fly, Fly Non-Stop - Plastic-Free July: How to be a Responsible Traveler


Do not Buy Plastic Water Bottles

When you’re visiting hot countries, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking enough water every day. In foreign countries, it is often not safe to drink the tap water, so many people buy bottles of water from the supermarket. It’s recommended to drink several liters of water a day – this would mean you would buy over 20 bottles of water every week! A simple, cheap and effective way to be a green traveler is to bring your own refillable drinking bottle. Many airports now offer free drinking water – this saves you money and helps the environment! Mad Monkey Hostels also have refill stations for travelers to take advantage of during their travels.


Do not Buy Plastic Water Bottles - Plastic-Free July: How to be a Responsible Traveler
Mad Monkey Hostels water bottle © Courtesy of Kirsten Muolic/Mad Monkey Hostels


Eat in Local Places

Eat locally sourced food and avoid anything that has been imported. This is a great way to support the region’s local farmers, get a more authentic taste of the cuisine, and reduce the carbon footprint of food transportation. Lonely Planet advises that you should look for restaurants advertising local produce, or eat local dishes at food markets or roadside stalls. Make sure that you never eat endangered species, like turtles, when abroad.


Eat in Local Places - Plastic-Free July: How to be a Responsible Traveler
Traditional Khmer amok


Leave the Chargers at Home

We’re not going to tell you to leave your phones at home! However, one thing you can do while traveling is to forget all of your electronics. Immediately by doing this, you open up many more opportunities for travel. You could find yourself staying somewhere remote in Thailand and really getting back to basics, avoiding big cities and fuel-chugging modes of transport as we mentioned above. You can pick up a portable charger and use your phone only for emergencies. By cutting out the need for electricity, you immediately enable yourself a more eco-friendly holiday!


Leave the Chargers at Home - Plastic-Free July: How to be a Responsible Traveler


Save as Much Water as you can

It is important to reduce the amount of water you waste while traveling. You can easily do this by taking shorter showers and reusing your towels while staying in hotels. Think about it – you don’t wash your towels and bedding every day at home, so why do it when you travel? Many hotels now offer linen reuse programs – hanging up your towels after each use is a universal sign to say that you’re happy to use them again. Reusing your towels and only requesting a change of bedsheets once or twice a week will save significant water, and is a simple way to help the environment. Also, as mentioned above, bring along a reusable water bottle!


Throw Away Your Trash…or Pick it Up!

People are changing their perception of trash. We are more aware than ever that the trash we throw away ends up in landfill or swimming with the fishes. It is no longer acceptable to ignore the situation. We are more aware than ever as to how much our actions across the globe have consequences. Not only are there schemes at home to help recycle, but there has been an enormous trend of bringing the clean ideology abroad.
While you are on holiday, it is incredibly important to leave a long-lasting, positive impact. Make sure you pick up after yourself and disregard the idea that a holiday means to kick back and not lift a finger. In fact, why not take part in an enormous social media movement? The Trash Tag Challenge has seen people all over the world taking initiative and cleaning the environment around them. Take an extra bag while you bask in the sun on the beach and pick up anything that has been left behind!


Throw Away Your Trash...or Pick it Up! - Plastic-Free July: How to be a Responsible Traveler


Think about what you buy

It’s always fantastic to bring something home with you to remind you of your holiday. In fact, spending money among shops and within local markets is a great way to boost the economy. However, you must never buy animal products! They may look nice and seem impressive, but wildlife crime is an enormous business. WorldWildLife claim that despite the common knowledge that elephants poached for their ivory and tigers are poached for their skins, tens of thousands of species are also overexploited. The illegal wildlife business threatens many of the world’s species and it’s of utmost importance that we combat that as much as possible.


Think About What You Take Part in

Piggybacking off of our last point, we’d like to mention days out. For the most part, while on holiday, you can stay green and cycle to somewhere scenic. There are plenty of events that allow you to have fantastic cultural experiences and not harm the environment. Unfortunately, this is not the case with some of the more famous attractions to certain parts of the world.
Thailand is well known for its elephant rides and experiences. However, you can never take part in these events while believing that the animals are treated fairly and responsibly. ExpertVagabond goes into detail as to how the elephants are tamed and what they are subject to. They are often captured illegally and forced to bend to the will of their new owners, disrupting the cycle of their lives only for profit. It’s a sorrowing thought. So, if you can avoid contributing to this situation, do! Visit somewhere that has good intentions and help sustain the environment!
With more and more people traveling to destinations all over the world, green traveling has become incredibly important to protect our environment. The least we can do while enjoying this beautiful planet is to try to be as conscious as possible and reduce the amount of emissions we contribute to emitting. As a global society, we can do better to make sure that the world is protected. Try some of the tips mentioned above while you are on your next travel adventure, and do your bit to help the environment.



More Information About How to Be a Green Traveler

Did you love this article about how to be a green traveler? Do you want more information on how to make your vacation the most eco-friendly one possible? Then check out these articles we have rounded up that will help make your vacation the best one for both you and Mother Earth!


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About the Author

Mad Monkey is Southeast Asia’s leading hostel operator — born in Cambodia with more properties in Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Laos, and the Philippines. We pride ourselves in creating meaningful and sustainable travel experiences for our guests, whilst promoting socially responsible tourism.