While family vacations to the beach and romantic weekend getaways are quite popular now on travel agendas, many are also thinking more critically about the environmental impact of their trips. Indeed, according to a recent sustainable travel study commissioned by Booking.com, traveling more sustainably is important to 94 percent of Indian tourists.
Furthermore, 68 per cent of Indian travelers say that recent climate change news has motivated them to make more environment-friendly travel choices.
However, traveling more sustainably begins before even leaving the house, with a more deliberate approach to packing the proverbial suitcase.
Travelers can reduce their personal travel footprint by carefully considering the contents and packing a little lighter.
Less weight means planes burn fuel more slowly, and with 36 percent of Indian travelers choosing to travel lighter in the last year, it's a positive step toward reducing carbon emissions associated with their trips. Even those who travel to their destinations by train, car, bike, boat, or foot can bring a few mindful essentials with them to help reduce their environmental impact.
With that in mind, and as Indian travelers return to the road this summer, Booking.com - one of the world's largest online travel agencies - shares a helpful packing guide with more mindful must-haves for this year's sustainable suitcase.
Trusty eco-friendly toiletries
In recent years, the contents of bathroom cabinets have undergone an eco-makeover, with more sustainable alternatives to non-recyclable plastic toiletries now available. There are game-changing shampoo and conditioner bars that don't use plastic packaging and won't weigh down a case for those who want to pack lighter and more sustainably.
Consider the sustainable credentials of the SPF when planning a trip to the water, especially if you will be visiting and swimming in areas with sensitive ecosystems such as coral reefs. Sunscreen's chemicals can be harmful to the ocean and aquatic life, so make sure it's labeled 'reef-safe' before packing it.
Similarly, some chemicals in mosquito repellent can be harmful to the environment, so consider switching to a natural option that uses citronella or peppermint to keep the bugs at bay. These simple changes are an excellent option for the 58 per cent of Indian travelers who believe that conserving wildlife and natural habitats in their chosen destinations is an important part of sustainable travel.
Embrace zero waste
It's no secret that limiting single-use plastic is one of the most difficult environmental challenges we face, with an estimated 91 per cent of plastic currently not recycled and ending up in the ocean or landfill. Travelers can make some simple swaps when packing by considering what reusable items they might need on their trip.
Many global travelers are already considering sustainable dinnertime swaps, with 75 per cent of Indian travelers planning to be more conscious about their food consumption while traveling, such as choosing more vegan or vegetarian options or eating organic/locally sourced foods. But it can also be more than what's on the plate. If you're eating at a food market or eating street food, bring some bamboo cutlery with you to avoid the single-use items on offer.
Travelers can also make environmentally friendly swaps while staying hydrated. Instead of buying single-use plastic water bottles while traveling, consider a stainless steel alternative that can be used for years and should be kept topped up with drinking water whenever possible.
There are eco-friendly options for those traveling to places where the water may not be safe to drink, as well as those relying on natural water sources on camping and hiking trips. Consider using water purification tablets or a UV-light purifier, which is a small, lightweight wand-like device that emits UV light to kill bacteria, viruses, and protozoa (parasites) in water.
Having a vacation 'outfit of the day' (OOTD) is more important to some people than deciding what to wear at home. But that doesn't mean the OOTD can't be a long-term option. Avoiding fast fashion is a good way to get our latest clothes, but eco-conscious travelers can also pack thoughtfully.
Avoid over-packing by considering versatile wardrobe staples that can be worn multiple times. Alternatively, use a colour-coordinated approach so that more of the clothes mix and match and look good together. If you are traveling for an extended period of time, consider packing lighter and doing laundry while on the road. Many places to stay provide laundry services or are located near one.