Personally, a fundamental part of being a thoughtful traveler is committing to eco-friendly and sustainable practices. Even in Sweden, where they import garbage, I would bring an aluminum water bottle or reusable tote bag to avoid unnecessary use of single-use containers. Regardless of duration or location, this travel gear will prove invaluable due to its usefulness, versatility, and affordability.
If you’ve read my posts about Fiji, you’ve surely seen me mention collapsible water bottles before. Specifically, the water bottle that flattens down to nearly an inch tall. Being that compact not only makes carrying the bottle easier, but it also gives me more room to pack other essentials while I’m on the go. Normally, I love to over-pack to be better safe than sorry, but not every vacation can, or should, be luxurious and pampered. When every ounce and inch count, looking at collapsible containers is a must!
While any reusable cutlery is great for traveling, metal sets may be more trouble than they’re worth when traveling anywhere that involves security (eg. airports and cruise lines). In order to avoid potential headaches while minimizing luggage weight and environmental impact, I take a Bamboo Cutlery Set with me on extended vacations, especially ones where I planned on preparing my own meals. Honestly, I think I use these at home as much as I do on holidays!
While a phone lens kit may not seem directly eco-friendly, it actually makes a big difference in little ways! With the incredible power of cell phone cameras these days, more often than not I choose to bring a portable lens kit rather than a separate camera. Traveling with smaller luggage is less space and less weight (a few ounces of lenses vs several pounds of camera gear), which means lower fuel costs. Plus, it’s hugely convenient to be able to take a picture and instantly share it online!
On a related note, while it took a little convincing at first, I am completely in love with reusable metal straws now! Not only are they super durable, but they’re great when you want to enjoy a thick chocolatey milkshake without a flimsy plastic straw collapsing on itself. In all honesty, plastic straws are a massive waste and even eco-friendly paper straws are often shipped in wasteful packaging. When you travel often, the last thing you want to do is have to make the same repeated purchases to maintain status quo.
Finally, LifeStraw has become a hugely successful product for the wanderers out there. Not only can it save your life in emergency situations, but it can be a great way to safely drink local water sources and avoid unnecessary use of disposable water containers. If you decide to start using one (which I absolutely recommend), be sure to read into exactly what it protects you from. While it makes some water drinkable, it can’t protect you from absolutely everything. It could save your life, and at very least, it can help save the planet!
All in All
Eco-friendly, thoughtful traveling can be done without fancy tools or accessories. The most important part of thoughtful travel is the thoughtful traveler! By exploring new lands without a protective layer of bulky and wasteful “traditional” equipment, you honestly become more connected and respectful of the unfamiliar lands around you. Words cannot describe how exciting and rewarding travel can be, but the best experiences will always be a couple steps outside of your comfort zone! Next time you’re packing, consider how your choices will affect the environment and enrich your experience. Be brave, be thoughtful, and never stop wandering and pondering!