We love to travel, but how to make it as sustainable as possible? One clear answer is to travel less frequently and stay for longer periods. Slow travel means less flying, but also more time to get to know the country and its people.
Here are 10 easy tips how you can travel longer – and leave a smaller ecological footprint.
Make your decisions as early as possible
The more time between decisions and departure, the braver you are. Trans-Siberian train or village hopping in Africa does not sound so scary when it is due next year. Closer to the departure we get more careful and settle easier for a two weeks charter flight.
2. Negotiate your time off in time
Slow travel needs time, so you should approach your boss as early as possible. At least half a year before the trip. A year is even better. A mini-sabbatical gets approved easier when it is still below the horizon of time, which is usually max 8 months.
3. Choose your dates and vessel
Book your transport well in advance for the lowest price, best dates and less impact. Use saved money to invest in direct flights as they are a more ecological choice compared to lay-overs. Choose airlines with new fleet and compensation programs. Fly once, stay longer.
4. If holiday season is a must
Travelling during off seasons such as rain season helps locals get income throughout the year and is an easy way to avoid the crowds – in many countries it only rains couple of hours per day. However, if it is not possible to travel outside holiday peak seasons, turn this to an advantage and negotiate a week or two extra time to your Christmas, Easter and summer holidays. And with your extra-time, you can choose your travel dates more flexible and thus economically.
5. Take your job with you AND WORK REMOTELY
If you can take your job with you, you can travel longer. Use Skype, Teams and other tools to keep contact with your team and clients at home. If your job doesn’t allow this, working holidays-type solutions can be a good idea for earning a bit extra on a long trip.
6. Maternity, paternity, study leave, work rotation, exchange programs...
Make the most of longer leaves – and get contribution for that (depending on the policy of your country and company, of course). If you can’t use any of these, unpaid leave can be negotiated for extending a trip.
7. Prefer affordable destinations
When the cost of living is reasonable, you can afford to stay longer. You also get more value for your money. And, if you travel wisely, you get to know the real people and real life instead of artificial tourist traps.
8. Go where others have not gone
In places popular with tourists, prices are often higher. Find a travel company with good contacts and relationships within your destination country. While visiting or staying in remote villages, you also support local residents.
9. Go local whenever possible
Avoid big hotel complexes and chain restaurants. Favor small guest houses or homestays, which is always a cheaper and more memorable way to travel. Staying 5 nights in a local home instead of a hotel, reduces 1% of yearly co2 emissions of an average European traveller.
10. Keep your backpack light
You don't need a 23 kg suitcase for your holiday. Pack only the essentials and save on the luggage costs and the environment. The same goes for the return trip: hoard memories, not souveniers.