How to Travel Green: Responsible & Sustainable Travel

 

I travel for a number of reasons: to escape, to live, to love. I travel to be reunited with nature, to rekindle my hope in humanity, to get in touch with the world. It’s all for the sake of love for myself, for mankind and for my planet. Hence I will always decide on getting that one-way ticket over a Prada handbag.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.43.33 PM

And yet, it has recently dawned to me that travel isn’t the most environment-friendly hobby. I traveled to appreciate the world, but I’ve come to realize how much my travels have affected the environment.

My boat trip to Surigao was spewing so much pollution that I could see the black smoke visibly on a starless night sky. I witnessed an increased algae growth in the shoreline during my last Boracay trip.

co2 emissions cokaliong
The Cokaliong boat trip to Siargao. 😦

And I can’t just blame other people. I don’t want to wash my hands off the problem, being guilty myself as well. I can’t finish my food sometimes. I drink water from plastic bottles. I drive a gas guzzler. I fly–a lot.

Air travel has a significant harmful impact on the environment. Airplanes emit heat, noise and carbon emissions, thus a major contributor to climate change and global dimming. In fact, New York Times has referred to airline travel as ‘the biggest carbon sin’. Despite the recent improvements in aviation efficiency and reduction of emissions, the rapid growth of air travel still offset the technological advances.

It’s a bit too extreme to reject travel altogether for the sake of the planet, so instead we think about how we can reduce our carbon footprint. A green traveler should adhere to responsible travel practices that support environmental sustainability.

Often, these are things that we already knew but forgot along the way. A few reminders are always helpful. These little steps add up especially if more people do it. By being environmentally responsible, we ensure that the places we love to go to will last for a very long time, and hopefully our future grandkids will enjoy it as much as we did during our prime.

Here are some pointers on how you can travel green.

  • Pack light. When we can’t avoid flying, travel light. The more weight cars, trains and planes carry, the more fuel they consume, and the more carbon emissions they produce.
  • Choose the most environmental form of transport available. On shorter trips, travel by land instead of flying. When flying, you emit 3 to 7 times more greenhouse gases than when you take the car, bus or train. If you can avoid land transportation, walk or bike to your destination when possible.
  • Fly the most direct routes. Take off and landing consume the most energy.
  • Fly economy. First class seats take up more space, and thus more energy, up to 9 times larger than economy! Not only is it more budget-friendly to fly economy, but it’s environment-friendly too.
  • Offset your travel. We can’t avoid transportation–that’s a bit extreme. But why not offset your carbon emissions by doing something good for the planet. Plant trees, do cleanup drives and support environmental programs.
travel light
Travel light! Bring only what you need

During the trip:

  • Order what you can only finish. I know that Pork Medallion looks really good, but you can’t probably finish it anyway. Order what you can only finish, and take away leftovers. Advocate zero waste consumption for the good of the community.
  • Use reusable bottles. Cut down wasteful water bottle purchases by using reusable plastic bottles and refilling in water fountains when you can.
  • Reuse hotel sheets and towels. Conserve water and take shorter showers.
  • Skip the groceries, head for the local market. They probably sell the same thing,  but the grocery products are just placed in wasteful branding and packaging.
  • Take or leave your trash back home. Most developing countries don’t have proper recycling centers or proper waste disposal. Old gadgets, batteries and other synthetic items could be tossed in a landfill that could remain for hundreds of years. Pack them and Take back your trash. Recycle the cardboard boxes of toiletry products before your trip. Delimit your environmental footprint and encourage zero waste.
  • Switch off and unplug unused electronic devices and appliances when not in use. Limit your A/C, thermostat and hot water use only when necessary.
  • Support local. Support locally owned accommodations, eat at local restaurants, get local tour guides, buy locally grown food.
  • Be responsible with souvenirs. Don’t buy products that potentially endanger local treasures such as endangered species and cultural artifacts. Try not to pick up and bring home natural resources including shells, animal bones, plants and other artifacts.

 

 

khmer insects
Eat local. Hahahaha. But seriously, this was an interesting try in Cambodia

 

  • Before doing volunteering efforts, do your research. So many scams and fake charity efforts have sprouted to fool do-gooders. Be responsible and know when and when not to volunteer.

 

“You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

How to Pronounce Places: When in the UK

We’ve all had our own faux-pas here and there, but there’s nothing more embarrassing than mispronouncing a place while traveling. Like any Filipino (and Spanish and Latino), I pronounce everything as it is.

Being Filipino, my grandmother Angelina was ‘Ang-hel-li-na’, not how Jolie is more famously called; and the Los Angeles is certainly not pronounced ‘Loss An-jel-izz’.

For us it’s challenging to travel to places with excessive, complicated spellings like France. And yet, traveling to a completely English-speaking country like the United Kingdom doesn’t mean it’s any easier–they also like to pronounce things a little differently.

Here are some common place pronunciation mistakes, and how to properly pronounce them (at my very best! I’m only a non-local too, after all). Avoid yourself from future embarrassment and say it like a local.

  • Reading – a large town located outside London, in Berkshire, England.

reading

  • River Thames – the longest river in England, where the Tower Bridge and London Bridge are built upon.

thames

  • Leicester, Gloucester, Worcester, Bicester – for all place names ending in ‘-cester’, you leave out the ‘ce’ and you just pronounce the ‘-ster’. If you are comfortable with saying it with a twang, ‘-stah’, you can do so.

leicester square45

I read from another blog that to ask for ‘Worcestershire Sauce’, you can drop the -shire. You don’t need to say the complete name–everyone calls it ‘Worcester (or Woss-ter) Sauce’.

  • Warwick, Chiswick, Keswick – The English like to pretend that ‘w’ doesn’t exist and prefer to leave it out like it doesn’t exist.

warwick

chiswick

…And yet, as to my reader Jill said, ‘Gatwick’ (as in the airport) is pronounced ‘Gat-wick’. Talk about confusion.

  • Greenwich, Norwich – Again the ‘w’ is ignored, and the ‘ich’ is pronounced as in ‘itch’, not ‘ick’

greenwich-pronunciation

  • Dartmouth, Bournemouth, Exemouth – ‘-moth’ is not pronounced like it’s the oral opening of the human face.

dartmouth

  • Edinburgh – Edinburgh doesn’t rhyme with Pittsburgh after all.

edinburgh-pronunciation

  • Salisbury – Another one of my faux-pas where I tend to pronounce everything as it’s spelled.

salisbury

Cebu Pacific Travel Hacks

I’m a Cebu Pacific frequent flyer, but I’m not gonna lie: I had my own share of Cebu Pacific horror stories. I’ve waited six hours on the airport because of delays. I’ve been left by the plane (even if I was on time). A rude Korean passenger had constantly kicked my airline seat because he didn’t appreciate the plane’s legroom, so I decided to recline my seat to annoy him further. Because I can be nice like that sometimes.

Despite all my bad experiences, I still fly Cebu Pacific, because, why the hell not? No one can beat the CebPac rates. I’m a Cebu Pacific trooper since 2006 and I have seen great improvement on service and support throughout the years.

If you can’t beat Cebu Pacific, what can you do? Do damage control and mitigate (a word I just learned and so badly want to use!). Read through this blog to have future pleasurable flights through some important travel hacks and tips I’ve learned from my constant flights.

  • How to Avoid Delayed Flights

Per my experiences, domestic flights across all local airlines are almost always delayed from 15 to 90 minutes. That’s perfectly normal and something expected in the Philippines due to air traffic congestion, late arrival of aircraft from origin, among others.

The simplest solution is to take the first flight. The first flight is an originator flight, meaning it begins at your specific airport, meaning you won’t be waiting for your aircraft coming from another destination to arrive. A few minutes delay in the first wave of flights will mean delay in subsequent flights throughout the day.

Flying earlier in the day provide a lot of benefits. Sure, waking up before sunrise is hard, but that’s the only most difficult thing. I normally fly between 4am to 6am, or the first wave of flights for a number of reasons: to bypass traffic on the road, less people on the flight, flight crew still on a better mood (not yet sapoton), on-time flights, and these first flights often offer the cheapest rates.

  • How to Book Promo Flights

I’ve heard a lot of people whine that Cebu Pacific piso fares as scams or deceptive marketing strategies. Here’s what I got to say to the skeptics: the piso fare deal is real. I’ve booked piso fare flights countless times. Piso fare flights seem elusive to more people than others–you need to be smart and quick to get these flights!

Piso fares do get sold out quick. I constantly check Cebu Pacific’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts just to be ahead of everyone. The Cebu Pacific website is on my browser’s main web pages. What disorder do you call ardent stalking and an obsessive need to find promo flights? Because, I probably have that.

BTW, piso fare is only the base rate, and does not include other additional fees such as tax, VAT, web admin fee, baggage allowance, etc. It is still cheap however. To give you a good overview, here’s an estimate of roundtrip flights I’ve bought or seen during Cebu Pacific promos:

  • Cebu to Manila: Php 1,500
  • Cebu to Hong Kong: Php 3,000
  • Cebu to Singapore: Php 3,500
  • Manila to Sydney: Php 6,000
  • Manila to Dubai: Php 9,000
  • Manila to Siem Reap: Php 4,000

As of 2015, Cebu Pacific has also removed the fuel surcharge on all promo flights, in line with decreasing fuel prices worldwide.

No one knows when a promo fare comes out, but based on observation I often expect them to come out on Philippine holidays, and they usually make the promo announcements on ungodly hours like 12am-3am.

Sometimes, I could get the promo on a flight to a destination, but have a hard time getting the same promo offer on the return flight. If I can’t find a good return rate, I just buy a one-way ticket and worry about buying the return flight on the next seat sale.

Another tip: when I travel to Europe, I normally book a promo flight from Cebu to Hong Kong and then find another budget airline that can take me from HK to European cities for cheap (as low as 25,000php round trip!)

  • Check in Luggage or Hand Carry?

Prepaid baggage is a wise option to get as excess baggage rates are steep (especially for international flights). I’m a light traveler, so I can normally just backpack and skip check-in luggage. Most airlines allow a carry-on maximum of 7kg. To be safe, I sometimes purchase luggage on the return flight because my carry-on weight increases– dirty laundry is always heavier, plus additional shopping and pasalubong items add to the pile.

Trust me, I’ve begged another Filipino to place my excess items to his check-in luggage. I was refused and the nerve of him because he did not even look anything like JM de Guzman. Won’t work, it only happens in the movies.

(Additional note: Although to be fair, if someone asks you to place items in your luggage, it is wise to refuse, else you could be the next trafficking victim)

  • How to Avoid Missing a Flight 

You’re not a true traveler if you’ve never missed a flight. So far, I’ve missed one domestic flight (Cebu-Cagayan) and one international flight (Dubai-London) for different reasons, both which I traveled with family. I never missed a flight when traveling solo, probably because I’m more aware and accountable for myself when I’m alone haha.

Missing a flight is inconvenient, expensive and annoying. Missing a flight can get you stranded at the airport for several hours to a day. It’s something I never want anyone to experience, so here are tips on how to avoid missing a CebPac flight:

  • The most obvious tip: don’t stay too far from your gate. After going through check-in, immigration and security checks and once you’re inside the terminal, don’t get distracted about getting food or looking at duty-free shops. The first thing you need to do is to locate your gate number. Once you’ve found it, you can probably do your own thing if you still have extra time. But don’t stay too far away from your gate and be wary of any intercom announcements.
  • For connecting flights, allow at least 4 hour time allowance in between flights. Domestic flights are notorious for delays, and you need at least two hours to check in for international flights, go through immigration and security checks.
  • 5J vs TG. Know your Terminal number–especially when in NAIA. Most Cebu Pacific flights are in T3, but since the TigerAir and Cebu Pacific merger, you will now have to check if your flight is a 5J (Cebu Pacific) or a TG (TigerAir). TG flights are in NAIA 4.
  • Should I Get a GetGo Card?

GetGo is CEB’s newest rewards program for frequent fliers where you can earn GetGo points when flying Cebu Pacific. Through the points you can also earn free flights.

Those who were already signed up for CEB Club become automatic GetGo Members. Non-CEB Club members can become GetGo members by paying the initial membership fee of P150.

I am now a GetGo member but still waiting for my card to arrive via mail. I haven’t converted points for free flights yet, so I’ll reserve judgement as of now (but I will update you soon). It’s worth a try to get a GetGo card, there’s nothing to lose. Currently, they are still on beta mode and improving the system and partnering with more merchants to create a more pleasant lifestyle program for their members.

getgo-membership-card

So there you go–some CebPac Travel Hacks that can improve the quality of our flight experience. Let’s make every flight count!

(DISCLAIMER: These insights are based on my personal experiences and may not reflect the experience of other travelers.)

30 Travel Tips for the Wanderlust on a Budget

This article was published on Sunstar Weekend around March 2014 (I think). I don’t have the hard copy so I’m publishing the soft copy on my blog instead. Thank you fellow travelers for your wonderful insight on traveling on a minimal budget. Rest in Peace, dear big traveler Jethro Estimo who also shared his tips in this article.

A wanderlust has a passion—and almost animalistic lust—for travel. That need to ditch our desks and hit the beach is all too familiar to us–but while we all love travel, most of us don’t get to travel as much as we hope. And with summer just around the corner, we’re all starting to feel that travel itch again.

So what do you do if you don’t have enough capital to cure a bad case of wanderlust? You don’t need to forgo that dream vacay– The key is to travel more, spend less; finding ways to stretch your money’s worth.

Gone are the days when travel was only a luxury for the rich and famous. Budget airlines, promo airfare and Internet booking have provided a wider window for travel opportunities. A limited budget is no longer a hindrance to travel—in fact, it can be a challenge to see ‘how low you can go’. Part of the adventure is going out there and having some sort of money limit. Spending less lowers the barrier between you as tourist and the culture you traveled so far to experience.

Here are 30 tips from backpackers and seasoned travelers in Cebu for the fellow thrifty wanderlust:

On Booking Tickets, Planning an Itinerary and Packing:

carla adlawan

‘Keep your eyes peeled for cheap flights. Subscribe to airlines’ newsletters, visit their websites religiously. As soon as you see that seat sale, book it! Your dream vacay starts by booking that flight.’ – Carla Adlawan

hannah katrina lim

‘These days there are heaps of good travel advice everywhere. From websites to personal blogs—good and bad reviews alike assist you in every step of travel planning’ – Hannah Kate Lim

honeylette to chip

‘For tickets, check local budget airlines. You can do this by going on Wikipedia and searching for the airport of your destination. It’ll list the airlines that land in that place. Compare rates and book the best price’ – Honeylette To Chip

chacha mercado lee

‘Read airline policies beforehand, especially with budget airlines. Know their restrictions when it comes to baggage allowance, check-in instructions, printing boarding passes, etc. in order to avoid unnecessary penalty costs – Chacha Mercado-Lee

‘Sometimes if you go back to an airline website multiple times, the price gets higher. It’s a technical thing… they remember your computer so it offers higher rates each time you come back’ – Honeylette To Chip

dj tudtud

‘Never forget to bring an extension cord so you don’t have to think about buying lots of travel adaptors. All you need is to plug all your devices in the extension cord, attach a universal travel adaptor and you’re good!’ – DJ Tudtud

‘The obvious is to book your flights in advance. Their promo rates are available around three months ahead if you book it online’ – Atty. Janjan Perez

jon cabiles

Staying in hostels is a great way to save money and meet other travelers. Check websites like airbnb—the places are cheap and these places often have the added benefits of doing your laundry and kitchens where you can cook your meals for free’ – Jon Cabiles

hannah bacalla

‘Travel off-season to find better deals, budget rooms and cheaper airfare. Explore like a local—ditch the usual tourist spots and explore the city’s hidden gems’ – Hannah Bacalla

audi villa

‘Never have your currencies changed at the airport’ – Audi Villa

On Touring and Getting Around:

bait nicart

‘Your itinerary serves as a guide. You don’t need to follow it to the dot but it’s usually more expensive to be spontaneous (albeit certainly more fun) – Bait Nicart

johnn mendoza

Foursquare is a really useful app with various tips especially for a newcomer in a certain place. ’ – Johnn Mendoza
patricia zosa

‘Wear your most comfortable shoes! Saves you transpo allowance. Let’s you take your workout on the road too.’ – Patricia Zosa

‘Think like a video game character. Establish savepoints & waypoints. Learn and research subway and commute routes, so you can get lost worry-free and easily retrace and load from last save’
Victor Villanueva, film director

jethro estimo‘Go in groups of two or more so you can save a ton, especially in accommodations and commute fares’ – Jethro Estimo

karlo pacheco

‘As much as possible, take an overnight train/bus/boat to your next destination—it saves you money on accommodations.’ – Karlo Pacheco

danielle aballe

‘Museums usually have high entrance fees; but do a little research beforehand—there are usually entrance-free days. To save you some buck schedule your visit on those free days’ – Danielle Aballe-de los Reyes

sam despiSave yourself some time by knowing the local name of the places. Keep them on your phone or write them on a piece of paper. This is especially helpful in places with their own alphabet. When I was in Thailand 90% of the cab drivers didn’t speak English well and we couldn’t pronounce names of the destinations properly. That wasted a lot of time. It surely helped when we looked up the names online and in the Thai alphabet’ – Sam Despi

On Food & Shopping:

celeste rodriguez

‘Hit the groceries, find a park in the city and have a delicious picnic with a gorgeous view. Saves you a whole lot of dough’ – Celeste Rodriguez

janjan perez

‘Avoid the tourist-y restaurants and cafes because the prices are sure to be jacked up. Look for eateries frequented by the locals—that’s where the good food and good value is found. – Atty. Janjan Perez

victor villanueva‘Check out food areas near universities. They have tasty food on a student budget. Plus get to know the students for possible true love’ – Victor Villanueva

paolo manalac

‘When challenged with the language barrier, I just use the mighty pointing finger and point at whatever that guy’s got. You will have a sample of local flavor and an extra bang for your buck’ – Paolo Mañalac

radel paredes

‘Pack some instant noodles. They make great emergency food. Some airports, like in China, provide free hot water. You can also ask from stores’ – Radel Paredes

hanz libato

‘Make sure to start early and eat breakfast before you leave the hotel. Never go out hungry or else you’ll end up spending more in restaurants’ – Hanz Libato 

homer mediciDon’t hoard on pasalubong or souvenirs. You will just have a hard time packing them, and might even end up paying for additional baggage fees.Homer Medici

And Others:von jovi jover

‘Learning a few local street words help a lot, especially in Asian countries. Usually protects you from getting ripped off by locals or charging a crazy amount of money ‘ – Von Jovi Jover

Always be nice, try to make conversation. One time, I got upgraded to business class just because I made the check-in counter girl laugh, like she really lol’d. I wonder how that worked because I thought it was a really corny joke. This and many other things I wondered while sipping my wine in business class.’ – Victor Villanueva

‘Research on prepaid plans for internet and phone if you want to be constantly connected. Your phone will serve as your navigation device too and you’ll never get lost’ – DJ Tudtud

honeylette to chipTripAdvisor is helpful but not all restaurants and hotels that are rated highly are as good as they seem. Some people are paid to give good ratings and reviews to places’ – Honeylette To Chip