Green travel involves a lot more than deciding whether to buy carbon offsets.
One of the most important factors in successful green travel is how much weight travels with you. Therefore, always try to travel light.
Traveling light has many benefits. First, and perhaps most importantly, it means less stuff for you to lug around from place to place. Moving around more easily and being more flexible contribute to greater enjoyment while traveling, whether for business or pleasure. Traveling with less luggage is also easier on the back.
Another benefit not to be overlooked is this. In today's world of nickel and diming charges imposed by the airlines, fewer bags also means no extra baggage charges at the airport. The reduced weight will marginally reduce your carbon footprint a well, to the extent that is important to you. Overall, traveling light and the easiest, most flexible, greenest way to travel, and it will also usually be less expensive as well.
Not everyone has a knack for traveling light. As an example, my lovely wife likes to pack everything she thinks she, or anyone else in our group, might need. This usually gets out of hand and causes some friction, especially when I remark that we are only going away for the weekend so she really doesn't need 8 pairs of shoes.
As a result, I have spent some time thinking about traveling light. I can usually go to Europe for 2 weeks on business with nothing more than a carry on bag. But I realize that most people cannot because they have not learned to pare down to just what is needed but no more.
Here are four that may help you travel lighter, greener, more easily, and with greater enjoyment.
1. Think as you pack. Before packing anything, ask this question: "What if I don't bring this with me?" Unless the answer is that you might die, or at least would be incredibly inconvenienced, don't pack it. If you find that you really need it, you can probably get one during the trip. If the item is heavy, such as a thick hard-cover book, or bulky, such as a pair of boots, you will probably be thankful that you did not have to lug it around.
2. Be prepared to do a little laundry. Plan to wash socks and underwear and even T-shirts and polo shirts in the hotel sink or bathtub. Shampoo or regular soap is a perfectly good detergent, and rolling your wet articles of clothing in towels and wringing them tightly will eliminate most of the water, allowing these items to dry overnight by hanging in your room or closet. If you are lucky enough to be staying in one of those hotels with heated towel racks, drying your wet clothes is even easier. You can even avoid hotel laundry charges by washing your shirts and ironing them yourself, although I have to admit I hate doing this myself.
3. Beg or borrow (but don't steal). If you find that you really need something that you did not bring along, don't automatically go out and buy a replacement. Ask at hotels, airports, and even restaurants if they have one in their lost and found. There is a reasonable chance that another traveler left a similar item behind. Lost and found departments are usually happy to get rid of abandoned umbrellas, sweatshirts, swimsuits, or other items that have gone unclaimed. You could consider just borrowing the item and returning it when it is no longer needed, avoiding the hassle of lugging it home.
4. Wear your bulkier clothing rather than pack it. I always wear my sport jacket and overcoats when leaving on a business trip. This way it doesn't take up space in my suitcase. Usually, these garments can be neatly folded and placed in the overhead compartment on an airplane so that they arrive with you in good shape and without wrinkles
And here is a bonus tip.
5. Do a Post Trip Luggage Audit. One of the most important lessons for green and easier travel is learning from each trip about what you really need. As you unpack, make a note of anything you brought along that you rarely used or didn't use at all. Those are the things you should consider not packing the next time you travel.
Just deciding what you really need to pack and what you can leave behind will contribute to making your travels hassle-free and more enjoyable. And that is an important objective any time you have to travel.