Attempts to travel green

An estimated 20 million folks in the Philippines last Saurday night participated in the annual WWF global initiative that is Earth Hour, where people switched off their lights for an hour as an energy-saving measure to address, in a simple collective act, climate change. It is a good gesture, quantifiable even, and should move more people to think of other ways to save energy or lessen our carbon footprint.

Traveling has a big impact on climate change: the carbon emissions of a flight, how mass tourism can exhaust the resources of a place, the amount of waste generated, the list goes on. So what’s a girl to do if she loves to travel? Well, thank goodness other people have started listing down ways to travel more responsibly. I came across several online NatGeo stories by Award-winning writer Jeannette Belliveau on traveling green and some are pretty easy to put into action. Pretty useful reminders while P and I are traveling this week to my mom’s province.

1. Pack light. When I had to travel several days a week, every week for a couple of months for a project a few years back, I was able to learn the art of packing everything I needed in a small backpack. This includes bringing lightweight clothes, wearing the bulky ones, like jeans, on the plane, and even mixing and matching my clothes on the bed right before packing them. I hardly checked in my bag and it turns out this doesn’t just score high in convenience; packing light also means being able to avoid adding to your transportation fuel load.

2.Ground transportation over air. Traveling by train reportedly emits less greenhouse gas emissions as compared to cars or airplanes. And traveling by trains or buses between cities also means you get to save some money as it is typically cheaper. I knew there was a reason why I was partial to cities and countries with a rail system. If you must travel by air, most airlines (like local carrier Cebu Pacific) has an option to donate to groups like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

3. For the locals. Another way to travel responsibly (and often cheaply!) is to consider how one’s style of traveling and spending affects the local economy. Belliveau reports that most package tours, for example, end up just putting money into the hands of tour agents and airline companies. That staying in locally-owned facilities, eating at local restaurants (and the place’s food specialties), shopping in the local markets, buying local goods and going DIY when it comes to touring a place are all a few things one can do to put money in the pockets of the local people and reduce one’s impact on Mother Nature in some small way.

Do you guys have other suggestions on how to travel responsibly?

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