WORDS: KATE WEINER
IMAGE: NICOLE STANTON
I will be forever grateful to my family for instilling in me a deep passion for traveling light. Traveling light isn't just about packing less. It's about exercising mindfulness wherever you walk. What can you do to be kind to this new place you are a part of? How can you take good care of the ecosystem you are embedded in?
The upcoming months are a big time for traveling, especially in the U.S. The slew of holidays often means navigating a litany of flights to share in a significant day with our family; the cold weather invites tropical escapes. Preparing for future travels is a ripe opportunity to reflect on ways we can better interact with our changing environment.
And so, herewith, a few tips for traveling light:
BOOK WITH TRIP ZERO
Buying carbon offsets is NOT a perfect solution. Airplane travel is exceptionally carbon intensive and consumption is never a cure. Most of us won't be able to cut out flying from our lives, however, because we have family and friends and passions and projects scattered throughout the world. That means that we have a responsibility to be especially compassionate and considerate whenever--and wherever--we travel.
Think of TripZero, then, as a way to ground this responsibility in reality. TripZero supports reforestation and renewable energy projects that grow resilient ecosystems. And because these carbon offsets DON'T come at an extra cost to you, you can travel cheaper and cleaner.
PACK A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE, BAG, AND CONTAINER
Sanitation infrastructure varies throughout the world; some places have highly evolved public systems for compost and recycling, other countries do not. Treat the community you are in as if it were your own. Never litter. Don't buy anything that is overpackaged (particularly if there is no accessible way to recycle it).
Instead, do as Alison of No Waste Space does and bring your basics with you. A reusable water bottle is as great for a hike as it is for when you'd like to forgo the disposable plastic cups at a juice stand. A simple cloth bag can make shopping simple; it's also useful if you need a way to store your litter until you can find a trash can. And carrying a glass container is an eco-friendly way to store snacks and leftovers.
LEARN ABOUT LOCAL TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS
I am madly in love with walking. It is truly the best way to breathe in a space. Not every city, however, is as kind to pedestrians as NYC (L.A. I don't understand you!) School yourself on how locals get around. Learn about relevant bike sharing programs and systems of public transportation. Buy maps, consult travel guides, and bring a sense of open-mindedness. In Tanzania, I got around mostly dala dalas--mini-buses that are regularly packed to the gills with people.
REMEMBER THAT THIS IS SOMEONE'S HOME
You are always traveling in someone's home. Be grateful for and cognizant of this.