Here are some of my top eco-friendly and less waste tips for keeping your plane, hotel, and overall trip a little less wasteful.
1. Walk or Use Public Transport
I walk a LOT when I travel, I try to get hotels close to my work venue and spots to grab food. Google Maps is your friend, check out the “walking” directions to see if walking is an option. Some areas are close to interstates so it is not possible to walk it.
If public transport is available in your area of the hotel, take advantage. This can save you money, time and waste! If you are in an area you might be hesitant to drive in this can be a great solution. Use your hotel as a resource, ask them the best station or bus stop that is closest to get to where you plan to go.
Safety first! If the area is not good to walk or use the transport don’t do it. The planet won’t blame you for not putting yourself in danger. Ask the hotel about these options and if it is safe. I have had hotel staff tell me walking is safe, but avoid this area. So they are a good resource, they know the area.
2. Pack Snacks
The trip to and from home on the plane can be littered in plastic when it comes to food options, so try packing some trail mix in a reuseable bag. Or take a banana or other fruit. I always pack reusable utencils so I don’t have to use plasticware no matter where I am. I was using bamboo utencils but they started to splinter so I purchased a metal fork and spoon I carry in them in the same case I had my bamboo utencils in on my travels.
3. Skip Hotel Cleaning & Reuse Towels
If you travel often like I do, you start to gain status at certain hotels. I recently stayed at a Hyatt and that location offered points for skipping the hotel cleaning. I was happy to do this anyway since I was only there for 4 or 5 days. This will save electricity and replacement of items in the room you don’t need replaced.
Not a fan of skipping the cleaning? You can at least reuse your towels. Hanging up your towel after use is usually a sign to the cleaning staff that you plan to reuse it and they will fold it cleanly for you for the next use.
4. Refilling that Water Bottle
Lots of people carry useable water bottles now, but I am going to let you in on the little secret on how to get filtered water to fill it up. If you are not a gym rat, that is ok, get use out of the room by using the water bottle or filter. Most gyms have these for people working up a sweat and it is usually cold. If the gym is not an option, do they have a water jug at reception? Or a water pitcher at a complementary breakfast? Some places even offer filtered water near the ice machines.
5. Use the Stairs
When you have your luggage safely in your room skip the elevators and take the stairs. This allows you to check that your emergency exit works and you get a little bit of exercise. Warning! Look for any alarms with these doors. Most have access but if you try to actually exit the building from the last door an alarm will go off. So use the other door to access the first floor. Again safety is always the first priority, if the stairwell looks sketchy, skip this option.
6. Consider Electicity used in the Room
If you have access to a window in the room, take advantage of the sunlight rather than lamps. This saves on wasted energy. If you need a source of light all night to get to the bathroom pack a small nightlight so you don’t have to keep the bathroom light on all night.
Turn off the TV when not in use and/or use the “sleep” setting to fall asleep to the TV if that is your sleep routine.
Adjust the AC setting in the room, if you run cold, don’t waste the AC on a freezing room you are not comfortable in to begin with. Even if you don’t, sometimes the room is way colder than it needs to be, see what works for you.
7. Dine in at Restaurants vs. Take Away
Unless you are in an extended stay location you are going to need to go out to get food. Traveling is tiring so going out can sometimes feel like the worse option. If you can manage it, dine in, instead of doing takeaway and wasting single use containers, stay and eat there. If you are on your own, the bar is a great place to squat down so you can chat with the bartender or zone out in front of a TV.
If you know you do not want to dine in, and your hotel has takeaway food vs. room service ask if you can take a physical plate instead of a plastic box. Most won’t object as long as you state you will give it back.
If your hotel is fancy enough to offer traditional room service, chances are they are using real plates and utencils but you can always ask when ordering.
8. Carry a Reusable Coffee Cup
I have added a reusable coffee cup to my travel supplies, this way I avoid all those single use coffee cups and I always have a cup available for any beverage I want. A lot of hotels have self service coffee available or hot water for tea. If not, most coffee shops are happy to use your cup over their own. Bonus, you can ask that coffee shop to refill your water bottle too.
9. Skip the Printed Invoice
Most hotels now offer express checkout so you don’t even have to stop by the reception desk anymore. This way you can save time and get your bill by email.
10. Return Hotel Key Cards
Lastly, drop off your room key card(s). There are drop boxes in a lot of places. If not, hand them to the front desk person or leave them in the room. One less thing to trash or take home with you.