How to be a More Sustainable Traveler

What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.

Mahatma Gandhi

It’s impossible to look at your phone, the news, or even walk outside without seeing or hearing something about climate change. Without getting political, I wholly support doing what I can to reduce my carbon footprint. Traveling can emit a whole mess of carbon and produce so much trash that it can be uncomfortable to think about.

That’s not what this post is about. We’re going to focus on the positive! Let’s keep what we can do at the forefront and make it a priority the next time we travel. There are so many simple things you can do to make your travel more sustainable without having to give up the luxuries you enjoy.

In no particular order, here’s what you can do to travel more sustainably!

  1. Choose your animal experiences wisely. Many animal encounters are focused on pleasing tourists and not much thought is given to the care of the animal. Make sure you choose an experience that treats each animal well.
  2. Book non-stop flights. The take off and landing use the most fuel, so try to book trips that involve as little of these as possible.
  3. Be open to alternative methods of travel. Can you drive there? What about renting a bike for a zero carbon footprint experience? What about taking a bus or train to essentially “carpool” where you’re headed?
  4. Try booking with airlines that have carbon offset programs. The International Air Transport Association can lead you towards airlines that participate in projects that offset their carbon emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects.
  5. Rent a hybrid or an electric car. If you must drive, try choosing a more sustainable option!
  6. Research your accommodations. Check to see if they have LEED certification or the European equivalent. This program judges hotels on their sustainable practices from their site development, energy efficiency, materials, and water savings.
  7. Find a recycling bin. This might seem so simple, but many hotels don’t make their recycling areas obvious. Save your recyclables throughout the day and dispose of them in an appropriate area.
  8. Invest in the local community. The more products that do not have to be flown or shipped in, the less of a carbon footprint they have. Make sure you’re buying, staying, and using as many goods and services as possible that are sourced locally. The money goes back into the economy, allowing for more investments in sustainable practices.
  9. Bring reusables. Bring a reusable water bottle that you can refill over and over again. Not only will it save you money, but it will prevent plastic bottles from ending up in a landfill or waterway.
  10. Nix bath time. Please practice personal hygiene. Just choose to shower since it typically uses a third of the water a bath does. On a trip with your significant other? Shower together for double the water saving power!
  11. Turn the water off when you aren’t actually using it. People have been saying it for years and I’ll say it again STOP leaving the water on when you brush your teeth or are lathering your hands. Save the water.
  12. Reuse your hotel towels. You reuse them for days at home, do the same on vacation. It saves water and energy since hotels use both washers and dryers.
  13. Prepare your home. Before you go on vacation, unplug anything that doesn’t need to be plugged in to save power. Adjust your heat/AC to levels that are safe for pets but will use less energy while you aren’t home.
  14. Get anti-social. Just kidding. Put the ‘do not disturb’ sign on your hotel each day. This will cut down on the electricity used for vacuuming and the chemicals used to clean.
  15. Use public transportation. No one is ever above it. It saves money and the planet.
  16. Use exercise to take you places. Not only will you look even better in your new vacations clothes, but you will save money and the planet. Using your own steam power by choosing to walk or bike will allow you to stop wherever you want, discover something you might have missed, and you will have greater freedom and a wonderful sense of adventure.
  17. Take any shampoo, soap, or amenities with you. Don’t steal anything, but the partially used soap you used throughout the trip? Take it with you since it would just get thrown out. Think of it as a gift you get for being a sustainable traveler.
  18. Stick to the hiking paths. I LOVE an adventure, but hiking paths are usually there for a reason. They keep the droves of tourists where the authorities want them so they don’t destroy native flora or fauna.
  19. Do your part. I always take a bag with me to pick up trash throughout the day. Always. Just think how much trash could be taken out of the environment if every single traveler did this each day.
  20. Don’t feed the animals. Besides the obvious risk of attacks or potential spread of disease, the more human contact wildlife has with humans, the more they become comfortable and sometimes dependent. If the animal harms a person, it will most likely be killed. Let’s not be a part of that.

Want more great tips? Don’t worry. This is the first of several! Keep checking back for more in this series coming very soon.

Published by Emma Browning

Hey everyone, my name is Emma Browning. Thanks for stopping by. I like to think of myself as a modern day renaissance woman since I basically do a little bit of everything. Here's a few of my jobs/hobbies in case you're curious: Group Fitness Instructor (Zumba, BodyStep and BodyPump), small business owner (string art& travel photography), archaeologist/anthropologist, actress, SCUBA dive master, reading addict, dog mom, cellist, and of course travel enthusiast. I've traveled to over 21 countries and speak French fluently and am learning Spanish. Traveling is one of my all time favorite things to do whether it be a day trip with my dog or a massive international adventure. I created this blog to help others see the world vicariously through my wanderings and also to give useful tips and essential information that will hopefully inspire more people to travel. Hopefully you have as much fun reading these posts and get a lot of useful information from them!

6 thoughts on “How to be a More Sustainable Traveler

  1. These are great suggestions! I always take the unused soap. It mystifies my why anyone would take a flight with layovers if there’s a direct flight available, but maybe they’re cheaper??

  2. I like your post, but shouldn’t you just avoid any animal contact while travelling. Even if the animals are treated right, if you get to touch them they are taken out of their natural habitat. Watching is fine of course but I think that any kind of contact should be avoided.

    1. I do agree with what you’re saying, but there are some animal experiences out there that treat animals well and raise awareness for conservation efforts by using animals that wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild any longer. Those are the ones that I would support.

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