Effortless Eco-Smart: Lifehacks for Studying Abroad

Guest post by Jennifer Stone

Eco-Smart Studying AbroadHow you can give back while studying abroad.

Studying abroad can be a rewarding experience that allows students to experience new cultures, learn about rituals, climate change, languages, and ways of life.

While gaining this great and valuable experience, students can give something of even greater value back to the land they are visiting and the planet overall, they can be mindful of their actions while traveling and perhaps reduce the carbon footprint caused by traveling overseas or even at shorter distances.

Here are a few wonderful tips that students and teachers can use to do their part in improving the current global environmental crisis.

Reduce Energy Use Before You Leave

  • Heat and Air Conditioning Climate control may be necessary to prevent pipes from freezing or plants dying. But if these units must be left on, use the minimum setting.
  • Unplug appliances Unplug anything that won’t be used, like cable boxes and television sets. Cutting the cord will reduce overall energy consumption.
  • Turn off the automatic sprinklers if no one is there to mind them. Leaving them on squanders water and increases the risk of flooding.
  • Turn down the water heater Pacific Power suggests this because, simply, no one’s going to be bathing anyway.

Air Travel

  • Opt for electronic tickets Savvy travelers use smartphones and mobile devices to pay for tickets. There’s another benefit: paper is easily misplaced, and crooks target unwary travelers for identify theft. It’s best to sign up for a reputable identity theft protection system, like Lifelock, before leaving. Protecting your personal and sensitive information is key in assuring safety of all your assets.
  • Carbon offsets Consider donating to finance wind, solar energy producing or carbon reducing projects supported by NativeEnergy, which support eco-organizations working to minimize the impact of greenhouse gasses, so you can offset the emissions put off when you take your plane trip.
  • Plan a smart itinerary Take direct flights and avoid connecting flights to reduce fuel consumption and gas emissions.
  • Take flights that are close to capacity Half-empty flights burn as much fuel as ones that are full. Larger aircraft hold more people but may sell out more slowly than smaller planes.


  • Housekeeping? Hang out the “occupied” sign and housekeepers won’t have to use so many chemicals and cleaning agents.
  • Unplug everything you’re not using There are loads of electronics eating up wattage in hostels— lamps and televisions to name a few.
  • Don’t take the complimentary goodies If you don’t need them, leave them behind for the next guy.
  • Hang up the towels Hanging up bath towels signals housekeeping not to replace them—and saves water and chemical use.


  • Consider taking a bus, train, or other form of mass transit instead of driving solo. Many destinations even have eco-tours. Uptake.com says using mass transit is a great idea for seeing the city and surrounding areas the way locals see it.
  • Plan a route in advance that will maximize fuel efficiency and access to ethanol pumps.
  • Walk or ride bikes upon arrival It’s a more intimate, enjoyable way to see the sights.
  • Recycle bags and bottles accumulated during the trip. If there isn’t a gas station or hotel where they can be sorted, take them home.

SCV Plane with trail
Jennifer spent two semesters abroad in Rome studying culture and literature. After her time abroad she became a passionate traveler; living, learning, and writing in many different cities. She enjoys writing about her experience and helping other students make learning from new cultures just as possible as it was for her.

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