We consulted WWF members who have journeyed with us and spoke with national travel experts to compile this list of tips. We hope it will help you prepare for your upcoming tour with WWF. For even more eco-friendly travel tips, be sure to regularly read the WWF Travel Blog.
- Eco-friendly travel
- What to bring
- Packing strategies
- Luggage tips
- Emergency contacts
- Money matters
- Playing it safe
- Endangered animals as souvenirs
- Recommended links
- Go for rechargeable gadgets, which have less environmental impact than ones that require disposable batteries.
- Should a device malfunction, don’t toss it in the trash. Batteries contain toxic materials, so recycle them when you get home.
- Brochures and maps are commonly provided at tourist attractions. Take care of them and as you are leaving, return them for someone else to use.
- Before leaving your house, turn off all electric devices and unplug any power strips to save energy while you’re on vacation.
- Stick the “do not disturb” sign on your door or call the housekeepers and tell them you won’t need their services during your stay. This will help prevent the hotel from wasting cleaning products and electricity by vacuuming.
- Closing your window shade while on an airplane can help reduce the amount of energy needed to cool the plane.
- Hotels, airlines and restaurants do read the comment cards left by guests. Let them know that you’d like to see them establish a recycling program – or improve the existing one. If they’re doing a good job, let them know that too.
- Be careful where you walk. Particularly at high altitudes and latitudes, native flora can be very slow-growing and can take years to regenerate.
- While at a hotel, use one bar of soap in both the shower and at the sink. Consider taking this bar with you from your first hotel to the next.
- When you leave your hotel room, turn off the air conditioning, heat, television, lights and any other electric devices.
- Choose a reef-friendly sunscreen, which biodegrades in water.
What to bring
- Use the packing list provided to you by WWF as a starting point. Cross off the items you don't think you'll need, and jot down everything else you want to bring. Don't just make a mental list.
- Before assembling items, check with the Transportation Security Administration to see what is and isn't permitted in checked luggage and carry-on bags.
- Some clothing advice: Pick mix-and-match separates in neutral colors and plan to wear each item more than once ... Avoid bringing thick sweaters or fleeces by packing thin layers ... If you must bring bulky items (including heavy shoes, fluffy fleeces or bulky jackets) wear them on the plane instead of packing them ... Don't bring three pairs of jeans or three black sweaters when one good one will suffice ... Pack quick-drying items that could be hand-washed in a jiffy, including T-shirts, underwear and lightweight shorts or trousers.
- Electronics (including cameras), prescription medication and important documents (passports, tickets) should always be carried on.
- Never pack the night before or day of a trip. Pack at least a day (preferably two days) ahead.
- Don't pack so much that your suitcase looks like a marshmallow or can't close without the aid of a strap or bungee cord. If a security inspector cannot close it properly, you risk losing possessions.
- Leave space in your luggage for souvenirs and other items you most likely will acquire.
- Consider rolling as many of your clothes as possible.
- An alternative to rolling is bundling all clothing items together into one tight, pillow-like mass that takes up the entire suitcase. Lay all your clothing items across the entire width of the suitcase, and once all items are piled up, begin folding in the arms and legs.
- Stuff shoes with socks, underwear or other small items. Make use of this seldom-considered space.
- Once packed, if you must dip back into your bag at the 11th hour, do it only to weed out items you won't need.
- Use your specially provided luggage tags-and other brightly colored tags or colored duct tape-to make nondescript bags stand out on the luggage carousel.
- Take off removable straps. If they can't be removed, tuck them into pockets or secure them to the side of the bag with duct tape.
- Be sure your name, address and telephone number are on the bag, both on a luggage tag and on a card tucked inside the luggage.
- If you want to lock your bag, use a TSA-approved lock. TSA locks can be opened by security inspectors by using special tools provided by the lock makers. If you don't use an approved one, screeners may deliberately break your lock to search your bag.
- Please adhere to the TSA's rules about carrying on liquids and gels. For the requirements, visit www.tsa.gov.
- Use the packing list provided to you by WWF for medicine suggestions, so that you don't end up bringing more than you'll need.
- If you're headed someplace where replacement toiletries won't be readily available, look for products that do double duty, such as shampoo that's also body wash or a sunscreen that's also a skin moisturizer.
- Choose a trustworthy friend, family member or colleague to serve as your emergency contact. That person should be reachable at any time for the duration of your trip at one of the telephone numbers you provide.
- Give photocopies of all important documents to your contact. This could include: Your passport's photo ID page, credit cards, airline tickets, travel insurance information and your itinerary.
- Some travelers scan a copy of their passport and airline tickets and e-mail the document them to their emergency contact and to their own personal email address. While Internet access is frequently unavailable during your trip, it's possible that you could log on to retrieve the documents in the event of an emergency (such as a lost passport).
- Sometimes credit card companies block the account to avoid fraud when they see an international transaction. It may be useful to inform your credit card company about your upcoming travel before your trip to avoid interruption of access to your line of credit when you are in a foreign country.
- Make two photocopies of both sides of your credit cards, or record the numbers on both sides of the card; bring one copy with you and leave one at home with your emergency contact.
- Charge purchases using low- or no-fee credit cards. Some credit cards charge up to a 4 percent foreign transaction fee for cash advances and purchases, while others have no foreign-use fees (or merely charge you the 1 percent that Visa or MasterCard assesses it).
- Ask your bank whether your ATM/debit card may be used to withdraw local currency from ATMs in your destination. Be sure to ask about any withdrawal fees that might apply.
- Make large withdrawals. If you use a debit card that charges fees, withdraw more cash less frequently and stash it in a money belt or hotel safe.
- Keep a currency converter handy. Print out a currency conversion chart, such as the one available at www.oanda.com/channels/traveler, to keep in your wallet. With it, you won't have to do complicated math calculations while bargaining or tipping.
- Depending on where you travel, see if you can apply for a value-added tax refund. The government-imposed tax on merchandise varies by country, and foreign visitors are entitled to tax refunds on some purchases.
- Keep receipts for any items you purchased abroad. U.S. citizens may bring back and orally declare $800 worth of merchandise duty free.
Playing it safe
- We suggest you do not bring jewelry or other valuables, If you must bring them, please use hotel safes, when available, for storage. It is wise to register such items with U.S. Customs before leaving the United States to make customs processing easier when you return. (See travel links below for a link to U.S. Customs information)
- Leave your passport in the hotel vault or safe. Use a photocopy of your passport to exchange money.
- The U.S. State Department offers the following advice: "Help prevent theft by carrying your belongings securely. Carry purses tucked under an arm and not dangling by a strap. Carry valuables hidden in an inside front pocket or in a money belt, not in a hip pocket. You may wish to wrap your wallet with rubber bands to make it more difficult for someone to slip it from your pocket unnoticed. Money belts or pouches that fit around your shoulder, waist or under clothing are available through some luggage shops and department stores."
Endangered Animals as Souvenirs
- Whether you go around the corner or around the globe, you could stumble upon products made from endangered or threatened wildlife. Sometimes you may not even know that what you buy contains anything questionable. To learn more, visit WWF's Buyer Beware Web site.
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