What’s one “good” thing that came out of 2020?

A renewed emphasis on sustainability.

During the pandemic, the behavior of companies fell under intense scrutiny. As the economy faltered from lockdowns, every corporation’s commitment – or lack thereof – to social responsibility was on full display.

People noticed which corporations did or did not care. Those observations turned into a record $12.2 billion worth of investments in ESG funds.

Now, as travel restrictions ease and the tourism industry looks to lure new adventurers, that new value is reshaping the way we think about travel.

Sustainable travel isn’t a trend. It’s one of the many ways the pandemic has changed our world.

Here are five tips to embrace sustainability the next time you travel abroad.

5 Tips for More Sustainable Travel

According to National Geographic, some 42 percent of Americans are willing to prioritize sustainability over other values during travel.

But what does that mean?

Sustainability means a lot of different things to different people. From environmental concerns to the way tourism affects the people who live in destinations, there are a lot of things to consider when you travel. Sustainability broadly encompasses behaviors and preferences that help meet our needs without compromising the needs of those around us.

Here are five ways to embrace that on your next trip.

1. Choose Alternate Ways to Travel

Research shows that aviation travel accounts for 3 percent of all CO2 emissions. That may sound like a small amount, until we consider that flying is a much less common mode of transportation than vehicles. Nonetheless, a round trip flight from LAX to Bangkok puts just over three tons of CO2 into the air – that’s just under what a single car emits in a year.

As a result, many people are rethinking traveling via airplane to their next destination. So, the next time you head out, think about taking the train, bus, car, or even a motorbike.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Travel more slowly. When you’re not in a rush, you don’t need to opt for fast modes of travel. Plus, getting to take a train or a bus is an adventure in its own right.
  • Travel like locals. Are motorbikes prevalent in your area? What about bicycles? Often, these modes of travel are not just cheaper and more convenient, but they’re also more eco-friendly.
  • Opt for shared rides. From songthaews to share taxis, look for ways to share the ride with others as much as possible.

2. Dispose of the Disposables

Did you know that we collectively use one million plastic bottles each minute? The vast majority of them don’t get recycled.

Of course, it’s not just plastic bottles that you can replace. From disposable utensils to clothing, replacing disposables with high-quality and durable alternatives can help keep your travel sustainable.

There’s one catch with that, however. Resist the urge to throw everything out and replace it right away. Instead, reuse until it wears out. Then replace it with something better.

Likewise, avoid buying special “travel clothes” that have one purpose only – to grace your suitcase. Not only does the fashion industry pollute intensely, but there’s a chance those clothes won’t even be appropriate for the climate or culture you’re visiting.

And then guess what … you toss them out.

3. Go Digital As Much As Possible

It’s super easy to go digital these days with everything from your tickets to your accommodations. With the internet becoming ubiquitous, many places are turning to digital modes of operation to lure tech-savvy tourists.

That’s even more true after the pandemic, thanks to an increased interest in contactless transactions. Going digital is, therefore, both better for the environment, and safer. We recommend that you:

  • Download apps for services that you use to make it easier to access paperwork
  • Opt for e-visas when they’re available
  • Send digital postcards
  • Get digital brochures or brochures you can return when finished
  • Use contactless payment methods like Apple Pay whenever possible

4. Get an eSIM

SIM cards may be small, but they pack a punch with the environment. According to the International Card Manufacturers Association, a single SIM card puts about 50 grams of CO2 into the atmosphere during manufacturing. That’s because the creation of a single SIM card requires PVC plastic, aluminum, and even precious metals.

That may not seem like a lot, until you consider that some two billion of them get manufactured every year for smartphones alone.

Getting an eSIM is one of the single best things you can do to help offset this. Instead of picking up a local SIM card everywhere you go (many of which will be single-use), download data packages onto your eSIM-capable phone before you head out on your adventure.

That ensures you stay connected, have access to all your travel apps, and aren’t contributing to carbon emissions.

5. Skip the Souvenirs

Americans can return to the country with up to $800 worth of items duty-free … but can you seriously imagine loading your suitcase up with that many trinkets?

Souvenirs are neat, but there are a lot of problems associated with them. For example, they may be made from dangerous or illegal materials. It’s common to come across stolen artefacts, too, since many unscrupulous dealers know there’s a strong demand for them generally in the West.

So, skip the souvenirs aisle at the market. And no, we don’t mean going to pick up pieces of broken pottery from a historic site or taking home rocks from a protected beach, either. Instead:

  • Take photos
  • Sign up for unique experiences and tours rather than going shopping
  • Choose one or two small, thoughtful items from local vendors

Embrace a More Sustainable Way to Travel with Airalo

Sustainable travel has become a major focus of both travelers and the travel industry, but it’s not just a trend. Like with most changes inspired by the pandemic, it’s here to stay.

We’ve covered five ways you can introduce sustainability into your next trip. From choosing your mode of transportation to your tours and souvenirs thoughtfully, you can enjoy yourself while respecting the needs of the people, culture, and corner of the planet you visit.

Cut out the SIM card with an eSIM. Explore the Airalo marketplace now.