7 Sustainability Tips I Learned After Traveling for a Year

Here’s how you can travel sustainably and also save a lot of money

A traveler in front of the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, “the baby Taj Mahal.”
Photo: Ibrahim Rifath via Unsplash

In May 2019, I left my home country with a one-way ticket to Portugal. I did not have a clear idea of where to go or what to do. The only thing I knew was that six months later, at the end of October, I had another one-way ticket to Singapore.

In these past 12 months, I have learned a lot about myself, but I have also mastered the art of traveling. One of the things I am most proud of is that I am more aware of the environment we live in. While there is still a lot I can improve, here is what I do to travel in a sustainable way.

1. I use cotton bags of different sizes

This is probably the best investment I have ever made — but you’ll be reading this a lot in the following rows. Before I started my journey, I bought a pack of eight cotton bags in different sizes and they came in handy in more situations than I can count.

I always keep the big ones in my bag and use them when buying fruits, vegetables and all sorts of goodies from the local market. I use the rest of them to store different things and keep them separated in my backpack. As it turns out, they are great not only for socks and underwear but also for shoes.

2. I’m thankful for Jessica, my reusable bottle

Needless to say, a reusable water bottle is something everybody should be using by now. It’s a great accessory in everyday life, not only for traveling.

Next time you are flying, make sure to pack one and refill it after you go through security. You help the environment and save yourself some good money, since they consider water to be a luxury good in almost every airport. Win-win.

If you are wondering, I like to name the things I own. It’s so much fun! Try it and thank me later.

3. Sip it like a pro and use a metal straw

I use a metal straw tucked into my pack whenever I buy a juice or smoothie on the busy streets of Southeast Asia. To be honest, I usually prefer eating the fruits rather than drinking them, but the coconut smoothies blew my mind the first time I had one.

4. Praise be Bob and Sally, the bamboo spoon and fork

These two little friends of mine have been life-changing. To be honest, I never felt like I needed them in the five months I spent in Europe, because we are not that big on street food. But since I arrived in Asia, I reach for Bob and Sally almost every day. Bob is the spoon and Sally, the fork. Don’t ask because I don’t have a decent explanation.

5. Comb it gently, brush it often

The next things I want to talk about are a bamboo toothbrush and comb. I’ve been using the same comb for years and it always gets the job done. Keep in mind that when you invest in one, it will be around for a long time so choose a comb that you genuinely like. And don’t forget to give it a name too. ;)

When it comes to toothbrushes, you can find the bamboo kind everywhere so there is no excuse for using a plastic one. I managed to find a bamboo toothbrush in a tiny store in Malta, a remote place in Thailand, and a small city in Vietnam. Trust me, you got this.

6. Use reusable travel-size containers

These bad boys have been around for as long as we can remember and man, do they come in handy when you travel with just a carry-on. While I have tried a few brands that make solid shampoos and toothpaste, I haven’t found one that I like so I’m still buying the regular ones. However, I always go for the biggest packaging so I can buy less. If I have to fly, I empty them into smaller containers and make sure I use a product until its last drop.

7. Buy local and take long walks

On top of all this, I always buy local products. The food markets in Sicily will forever have a special place in my heart while the ones in Asia keep surprising me every day with yet another exotic fruit I somehow missed before.

Lastly, I walk at least 10 kilometers a day. My record is 27 km, two days in a row, in Prague. I always choose public transportation if I have to go to another city or get to the airport. I keep Uber, Grab ,and taxis as a last resort for the nights when I go out with fellow travelers but need to return home safely alone. However, in good company, one of the nicest things you can do in the middle of the night is walk back home, on quiet and empty streets.

Always up for a friendly chat about mental health, mindfulness, and everything in between. Get in touch: larisa@larisaandras.com

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