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Tips for Green International Travel

Humanitarian travel is an essential part of the aid sector. It is a way to save lives and help those in need. But international travel is also a significant source of pollution. For example, carbon emissions from air travel are vast and large hotels that produce a lot of waste. While helping others, it’s also important to help the planet. So how can you ensure greener humanitarian travel? First of all, make sure that your mission is necessary. If it’s something you can do long-distance, skip it altogether. Of course, often, this is not the case. So here are some tips for green international travel.

Transportation tips for green international travel

The first step is to reduce negative environmental impact when getting to and from your destination.

1. Skip the stop-over

When booking your flights, look for the most direct option. Not only is it more comfortable, but it is also greener. The most massive emissions come from takeoff and landing. So, the fewer times you need to do that, the less your impact.

2. Use the right airline 

When you’ve found a couple of flight options, check whether the airline has special emission reduction programs. At the same time, review whether they recycle in-flight waste. Do they have any other strategies to reduce environmental impact?

3. Pay to offset your footprint

You can also literally pay a small fee to offset your carbon footprint. This is usually a small fee that goes towards carbon offsetting projects. The key here is to choose a high-quality project that will invest your money in meaningful change. To know how much to offset, you can use this hand carbon footprint calculator.

Read what Raptim does for CO2 compensation for humanitarian travel.

4. Pack light

A straightforward way to reduce your carbon footprint when flying is to pack light. We know that this is not always possible during missions since you might need to bring special gear or resources. But when you can, going light will go a long way. The heavier the plane – the higher its emissions.

5. Look for greener transportation

Once you are at your destination, opt for greener transportation options when possible. For example, if you can take a bus or drive instead of making a local flight, go for it. When renting a car, try to go hybrid where available. But remember, safety should come first!

6. Go public

Finally, if possible, try to use public transportation instead of a private vehicle. This will highly depend on the security level at your mission’s destination. But when circumstances allow, opt to take the bus or metro, instead of a taxi or a private car!

7. Accommodation tips for green international travel

We have talked before about accommodation-booking website Bookdifferent.com that makes eco-friendly and socially responsible traveling easy. Next, let’s take a look at how you can be a greener traveler when it comes to accommodation.

Bookdifferent website

8. Stay at a green hotel

The first and the most straight-forward option is to stay at a green certified hotel or eco-lodge. These are available around the world, and they will have unique strategies to be greener. However, these may not be available at all destinations.

So, you can look for a hotel with green practices. For example, how does the hotel manage food waste? Do they hire locally? Do they provide an option not to change towels and sheets regularly? Does the hotel recycle? Particularly for destinations where your mission travels to on a regular basis, this is a great practice to include in your procurement process!

9. Turn off the lights

The following accommodation tips depend entirely on you! Firstly, make sure to turn off the lights and other electrical devices when you leave the room. We always do this at home, but sometimes forget to in a hotel. Plus, unplug your chargers when not in the room. It’s both safer for your devices in case of a power outage and reduces electricity consumption.

10. Reuse your towels 

Many hotels will change towels on a daily basis. But let’s be honest, it’s not necessary. Leave your towels hanging to signal that you do not want them changed. Alternatively, just let the hotel staff know that you are happy to reuse your towels for a few days.

11. Bring your toiletries

Who doesn’t enjoy the free toiletries in hotels? But they cause so much unnecessary plastic waste! Instead, bring your own. If you want to keep them under 100ml to bring an only carry-on, you can always get reusable travel packs.

12. Skip the hotel laundry

Hotels often wash each piece of linen individually to avoid damage. Instead, look for a local laundromat or wash your stuff in the shower and line dry.

The ultimate humanitarian traveling list

13. Do not disturb

Finally, you can put a do not disturb sign on your door for the duration of your stay. Cleaning products tend to have a lot of chemicals and are rarely environmentally friendly. The less your room is cleaned, the better.

14. Reuse, reduce, recycle

You can still reuse, reduce and recycle on-the-go. Many of these tips are likely what you already do at home. So don’t forget to do them while traveling!

15. Ditch plastic bottles

The fundamental thing that everyone can do is to use the least possible number of plastic bottles. Many countries have potable tap water. But even if it’s not available at your mission destination, not to worry! You can refill with boiled water or get a reusable water bottle with a filtration system. Here’s more about filtering and disinfecting water.

16. Push for recycling

Where available, try to recycle. This is not always easy, depending on local recycling culture. But you can try. If proper recycling is not common, you might be able to find supermarkets or communities that do recycle. So, go the extra mile! Keep your recyclables and take them to the recycling points on a weekly basis (for example).

17. Bring a reusable bag

Plastic bags are just not a necessity most of the time. So try to always have a reusable bag with you, where you can put your purchases. In some places, it’s harder to forego plastic bags than others. Learn the phrase no plastic bag please in the local language to help you out!

18. Get a metal or glass straw

Straws are another contaminant that is not a necessity for most of us. But if you do like to use a straw for iced drinks or any other reason, then get a reusable one. Metal and glass straws are easily available online. Similar to avoiding plastic bags, you’ll need to learn “I don’t want a straw” in the local language.

19. Carry cutlery

You can also bring your cutlery, particularly in countries where take-out or street food is popular. You don’t need the plastic fork, knife, and chopsticks. Instead, use your own!

20. Buy local products

When traveling, we sometimes buy international brands because we are familiar with them. But going local is a great way to be greener. Local products don’t travel as far and therefore have a lower environmental impact. Plus, you’ll be supporting the local economy.

21. Pick up some trash

Another great way to contribute while traveling is to pick up some trash wherever you go. If you are out in a rural area, carry a bag with you and some gloves to pick up plastic trash. This way, you’ll be helping the environment and will have a great conversation starter on reducing plastic pollution.

22. Go digital

Last but not least, avoid paper while traveling. Gone are the days when you needed a paper map to get around the city. There are plenty of apps that provide offline maps, such as Maps.ME. You also don’t need to print your accommodation info or boarding pass. Most places allow for digital confirmation and boarding!

We Help You to Travel Where it is Needed Most

We believe our world is a better place when compassion can travel where it is needed most. As a global humanitarian travel organization, we devote ourselves to helping those who serve the world. Our experienced staff can be reached at any given time. Please use our quick address locator to contact your nearest Raptim office should you have any questions. You can also follow our blog for more stories and travel information.

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