Set Off Sustainably: How To Travel Mindfully

If you’re a regular reader of our Mosaic blog and this entry intrigued you, we have two things in common.   

First, we’re conscientious people, doing our best to reduce plastic waste, conserve water, buy secondhand, support local growers, and be generally mindful of the ways our actions affect our earth. Second, we’ve got a tinge of the wanderlust.  

Sustainable Travel | Sari Shop Slouchy Bag

I love everything about travel, even the airport. Yes, even the airport. And dreaming of a destination to facing the challenge of not overpacking (the struggle is real) invigorates me almost as much as the actual trip.  

Whether the promise of an escape from routines or tasked with a business trip, how do we remain as conscientious while traveling as we do in our everyday lives?  

Here are a few tips that make sustainable travel a breeze.  

Planning  

For some trips air travel is the only way to go. And as much as I love hurtling through the air in a small metal tube with strangers, a few years ago I fell in love with train travel. First, there’s just something charming about the rhythm of the rail. Better yet, traveling by train, one form of “slow travel” is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.  

Sustainable Travel | Expedition Bag

“Slow travel” is trending with those who crave a little more time exploring destinations. 

More than anything, sustainable travel is about exploring the nature and culture of a place (more on that later).  

If you’re practicing mindfulness and want to create a strong connection to the place you’re visiting, be your own motor! Walk or bike. Many towns and cities have bike share programs and bike rentals. There’s no better way to reduce your carbon footprint than with your own feet!  

When driving is your most economical choice, consider renting a hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicle.  

If you’re staying at a hotel, check to see if they’re LEED Certified or have a Green Globe sustainability certification. A great place to check is the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). And consider booking through KindTraveler. They collaborate with hotels that support local charities, and when you make a $10 a night donation to one of their charity partners, you get exclusive rates.  

Sustainable Travel | Packing

Packing 

Pack light, pack what you love, never pack more than you can carry. Rolling your staple pieces optimizes space and reduces wrinkles.  

Reusable water bottles are now ubiquitous for sustainable travel but take up that precious space. If you pride yourself on only traveling with carry-ons, like myself, consider a collapsible water bottle.  

Going the way of plastic bottles, bags and straws, many hotels are doing away with those adorable yet wasteful toiletry bottles and replacing them with refillable dispensers. No longer a travel badge of honor, if you’re unsure what your hotel offers, pack your own in a 3.4 oz or smaller reusable container.   

Choose bar soap over body wash. It’s one less item to worry about when following the 3-1-1 rule and it’s one less plastic bottle! While you’re at it, consider lathering up with your own eco-friendly hemp washcloth 

BYORB, bring your own reusable bag. Exploring a local market or finding the perfect souvenir, mini reusable eco totes are the way to go.  

Sustainable Travel | Reusable Bags & Journals

If you truly want to immerse yourself in the culture and be fully present in those precious vacation moments or downtime between meetings, consider a journal.

There’s good evidence that writing something down makes us more likely to remember it and helps us process our emotions. So, if you don’t want to forget the perfect Insta caption in the moment or want a quick recap at the end of the day, put down the phone and pick up a pen.  

Sustainable Travel | Cuerina & Cloth Bag

Experiencing

You’ve arrived! Before you venture out, put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign. You don’t change your sheets every day at home (at least I don’t) so why do it when you travel?  

Most of us don’t change our towels daily either. So, hang up your towels, it’s the universal sign that you’d like to use them again. 

If you need to wash laundry, consider handwashing and hanging to dry rather than using a laundry service. Hotel laundry services wash guests clothing separately even if it’s just a few items. 

A good soak at the end of a long adventurous day sounds tempting but showering will save buckets (gallons on gallons) of water. 

Buy local, buy handmade. Your trip deserves a souvenir so seek out indigenous artisans.  

One of the ethical practices we’re committed to is celebrating craft and culture.

Respecting and celebrating the history of a place and people, we work to preserve indigenous legacies.

We have a curated list of our favorite staple pieces for travel, but once you arrive, experience first-hand the pride and love that goes into handcrafting items. 

Immerse yourself, respectfully, into the culture of a place. Be mindful of the impact you’re having on an area’s natural resources. Because ultimately, sustainable travel is about striving for positive impact on the culture and environment of any place your wanderlust leads you. 

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