Volunteering abroad is so much more than reaching our destination and completing the task before us. The volunteer experience should begin before we leave and affect every aspect of our trip; from the way we prepare and pack to the way we spend our resources. Traveling green may take a little extra prep work, but in the end it will often save you money and add to your abroad experience. Start your volunteer trip right by practicing a few of these green traveling habits:
Before You Go:
1. Unplug appliances
If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, consider draining and unplugging your refrigerator.
2. Adjust the thermostat
Depending on the weather: turn down your heater/turn off your air conditioner.
3. Limit lighting
If you are leaving on lights to create the illusion of someone being home, have them set to turn on for just a few hours at night instead of all day.
Bonus: To know how much energy and money you can save by turning off certain appliances for your trip, check out this free appliance energy calculator.
4. Reuse airport plastic bags
Keep some of the liquid zip-lock bags from the airport for future travel. Simply slip some into the front pocket of your carry-on bag. You never know when they might come in handy–plus it saves plastic.
5. Water bottle
You can’t bring water through security, but you can bring your favorite reusable bottle! Drinking fountains are ubiquitous in airports. Just fill up once you pass security.
6. Research your hotels
It is estimated that the hotel industry creates 1.9 billion lbs of waste each year. Help encourage hotels to go green by selecting accommodations with high sustainability standards.
7. Walk or bike (…or camel)
One you have reached your destination, consider alternatives to bus and taxi services if you are traveling a short distance. This is a great way to experience your surroundings to the fullest.
8. Eat locally
You left the land of hamburgers and fries for a reason. So when the golden arches are calling your name (yes, McDonald’s can be found in over 100 countries), tune them out. Find some local cuisine, because there is a world of new flavors in your reach.