In the past decades, heading for the horizon meant taking time off from your daily grind while sacrificing things like saving money, family planning, or climbing the career ladder.
Today, you can still do all those things while exploring the world through remote working. New tech platforms and connectivity apps have revolutionized remote working, making it significantly effortless for digital nomads to be productive on the go. And as a result, more people are making the switch.
As the digital nomad trend continues to grow, we are expected to reach 1.88 Billion remote workers by this year. This means less time in the office and more time traveling on the road. And while all this new technology is wonderful and opens many doors, you might wonder if all that travel increases our carbon footprint.
So let’s talk about how we can live the digital nomad lifestyle while still being environmentally responsible global citizens. First of all, what is a digital nomad?
What is a digital nomad?
If you’ve started hearing the term ‘digital nomad’ but aren’t quite sure what that means, do not worry, we’ve got you covered. Digital nomads are typically those who can work remotely from their laptops or smartphones from anywhere in the world. Instead of being tied to an office, digital nomads have the freedom to travel and work at the same time, allowing them to explore new places while still earning an income.
Many digital nomads truly don’t have a place they own and tend to adopt patterns of temporary living, especially when on the road. As long as the cost of living is affordable and they have access to a fast and reliable internet connection, they're good to go. Some popular places they use as a base include hostels, co-living complexes, or even a friend’s house.
Choosing a sustainable way to commute
Unfortunately, when traveling across continents, we can’t avoid flying just yet. You can, however, take more efficient transportation methods for shorter distances. Here are a few ways to make your commute more environment-friendly.
It’s understandable that sitting in a car for a long distance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it does offer some great benefits.
Carpooling with others to the same destination is an excellent way to reduce the number of cars on the road and relieve air pollution. Additionally, traveling by car lets you see more of the place you’re in while also moving in a way that creates much lower carbon emissions than a short flight does.
Taking a bus
If you’re a lone passenger on a coach bus, like a Greyhound, there’s no doubt you’d be a more eco-friendly traveler if you rented a car. However, more often than not, you’re one of several dozen passengers on a bus, which makes the overall fuel consumption per passenger very reasonable.
Riding the train
Many European nations have well-established train systems, including trains that run on electricity instead of petroleum-based fuels. If this is the case, you’re in luck. Traveling by an electric train system has far less impact on the environment than flying or driving a conventional vehicle.
Even if you’re in a country with no rail system powered by electricity, traveling by train still beats the carbon emissions a commercial flight produces.
Finding Eco-friendly Accommodation
Sometimes, we are bound to fly, drive, or take a bus to get to our destination. However, there are several things you can do when booking your accommodation to be more eco-friendly.
Large hotels are notorious for chugging through fossil fuels. This is mainly to provide a customer experience where the lights are always on, the hot water never runs out, and amenities are available 24/7. While this might look great at first glance, it becomes harder to justify once you consider how much excess energy they use to provide those conveniences.
Here are a few eco-friendly alternatives to get you started:
Hostels — No longer solely the domain of college students and hippies, hostels are a great choice for the modern, environmentally-conscious digital nomad. In fact, many hostels have adapted to include co-working spaces geared towards travelers that need to work.
Co-living complexes — Co-living or community living is a housing concept where residents share living space, interests, and values. By sharing living spaces, you also share essential resources such as water and electricity through the use of communal spaces. This helps implement a more sustainable approach to energy consumption which in turn, supports the reduction of carbon footprint.
Eco resorts — Instead of opting for large-scale hotels, consider staying in eco-resorts. They are a sustainable alternative accommodation option that often focuses on preserving and protecting the natural environment while providing a comfortable stay for guests. Some features of an eco-resort may include;
Using local and organic food sources
Promoting sustainable tourism practices that respect local cultures and communities
Offering educational opportunities for guests to learn about eco-friendly practices and the local environment
Homestays & housesitting — By staying in a local's home or taking care of someone's house while they're away, you can avoid the carbon footprint associated with large hotels. Choosing a homestay also helps generate income for local families which can help boost the local economy. Additionally, staying with locals can provide a more authentic travel experience, allowing travelers to connect with the local community and culture in a deeper way. Win-win!
If you’re willing to take some time to find the right place, check out some home-sitting apps. PetSitter and Nomador are popular and have a thorough vetting process for both the homeowner and house sitter.
Look for eco-friendly cues when booking
Explain that to be eco-friendly, you need to consider your accommodation has the following:
LEED compliant — LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. To be LEED certified, an establishment must adhere to stringent rules on carbon emissions, sustainability, and green practices.
Solar panels — Solar energy and other renewable energy alternatives have become far more attainable in the past decade. Especially if you’re looking for accommodations in a remote area, it’s worth adding ‘LEED’ into your search queries to see if there are options for you.
Established reduction and recycling program — Many hosts are proud of their compost and recycling diligence, so they’ll mention it in the booking description. If they don’t, you can ask the host questions on most apps before you book.
HOMA Phuket Town is a great example of an eco-friendly accommodation. Apart from being LEED Certified, they have other countless sustainable practices to help reduce their carbon footprint such as using solar panels, rainwater collection, and promoting in-room recycling. And with a co-working space right onsite, HOMA residents reduce the production of emissions from transportation by not having to travel to work.
Our world, our responsibility
Despite booking your accommodation in environmentally responsible places but if you’re still using a ton of single-use plastics, draining the hot water tank for each shower, or leaving the AC on in your room all day, you’re not doing all you can to preserve resources.
If you’ve been dreaming of the digital nomad lifestyle but have been holding back because you value an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle, we have you covered. So, kick back, book travel and accommodations consciously, and enjoy the beach from your new nomadic home!