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how to travel sustainably

A thought that has been crossing my mind more and more frequently over the past few months is the issue of travel. I love to travel. I need travel as much as I need oxygen. It inspires me, and it keeps me feeling alive. But what impact does my need to travel have on the environment? I try my best to live a sustainable lifestyle, but no one is perfect. I eat a 100% plant-based diets, I avoid single use plastics wherever possible, and I’ve cut down on buying new clothing a huge amount. So, can I fly with a clear-conscience? Not so much, but I’m trying to reduce my impact where possible to balance it out. Wondering how to travel more sustainably?

Personally, I’ve been trying to reduce my impact on the environment by exploring more of the UK, donating to off-set carbon emissions when flying and exploring the idea of train travel in 2020.

I’ve teamed up with fellow travel-bloggers to provide top tips and advice, if, like me, you’re trying to travel more sustainably…

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from The World is My Playground

One of the best ways to travel sustainably is to reduce the impact of your stay at hotels. Consider hanging a “No Disturb” sign on the door and letting housekeeping in for the duration of your stay, or at least for half your stay. Would you change your sheets and towels every day at home? Probably not. So, try to reuse your towels and bedsheets for as long as you can, or for the entire duration of your stay, especially if you’re only there for a few days. Furthermore, don’t use more towels than you need. They’re always extras around, but if you don’t need them, leave them be. This helps reduce the amount of laundry the hotel does and ultimately helps cut down on the chemicals, the vast amount of water and electricity used to wash and dry unnecessary towels or sheets. Some hotels have even launched green programs and offer guests incentives in the form of points or discounts to turn down housekeeping and reduce the number of towels they use while they’re staying at the property. In addition to having an impact on the environment, you might even save some money or get more points! Now that’s a win-win.
how to travel sustainably

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from Globeblogging

There are a number of ways to adjust your daily beauty and hygiene routine to be more sustainable, bringing additional benefits for travel by reduced weight and space. However, there are varying degrees of appeal.

So here are my top 3 must have products to improve your sustainability when you travel.

1. Face Halo: I read about these and just had to try them, and have been a dedicated convert for over a year. Reuseable and recyclable, the Face Halo means you can ditch the makeup remover and wipes, removing your makeup chemical free by just wetting one of the halo pads. Save on money, space, and no wipes ending up in landfill.

2. Bamboo toothbrush: We all gotta brush our teeth. But what happens after that? Eventually 3-4 sticks of plastic per person will end up in landfill every year. Bamboo toothbrushes are compostable, on par with the price of plastic ones, and come in the same choices.

3. Menstrual Cups: This one is a pretty personal choice and I understand some women arent comfortable with it, neither was I until one day I decided to try and didnt look back. Disposable sanitary products all end up in landfill, in mindboggling numbers.

Check out other sustainable beauty ideas.

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from The Invisible Tourist

Rather than just breezing through a popular destination in one day, have you ever thought about staying a few nights instead? Skipping day trips to destinations affected by overcrowding is one of my favourite sustainabletravel tips to help avoid contributing to overtourism. But how does staying longer not cause more issues? I’m sure you’ve seen news images of popular attractions packed to the brim and crowded streets being difficult to navigate in cities such as Kyoto, Bruges, Dubrovnik and countless others. You can almost hear the locals breathe a heavy sigh of relief once the day-trippers have marched back to their accommodation outside town as the sun begins to set.
Staying longer in overcrowded cities allows you the opportunity to skip some of the unpleasantries associated with tourist hordes. You’re suddenly able to see more of the city’s true side by peering behind its superficial tourist curtain — something that isn’t always possible during a fleeting visit. Enjoying popular attractions before day trippers arrive or after they’ve left helps dilute the heavy tourist footprint on the city, allowing you to still see it whilst minimising any negative impacts on locals and their way of life. It’s a win-win for tourists and locals alike!

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from Worldly Adventurer

If you want to leave your mark when you travel, but in an entirely good way, re-evaluate how you explore new places. Booking through international companies or staying in international chains can see the syphoning off of some of the profits from the local people who provide the services. This stops your well-earned cash from making its way into the equally deserving pockets of the local people – the exact people whose lives and natural environments are the most affected by tourists.

Instead, consider focusing your trip around community-led tourism, a way of becoming a responsible traveller that doesn’t yet get much airplay. This type of tourism means everything from taking small-scale tours of a coffee farm, run by the local owners, or staying overnight in a homestay or small guesthouse, where you meet and even eat with your hosts. Small changes like this simplify the route that your money takes from your pocket to the local people – which, ideally, you want to be a direct transaction, so you can see exactly where it’s going.

It can be hard to find these types of experiences and many aren’t yet on the internet. Instead, you’ll need to ask other travellers whom you meet or speak to the tourism board, who should have a list of tour operators and homestay providers in their area.

How to Travel Sustainably Tip Lost With Purpose 

Traveling sustainably might seem daunting, but there are a few simple things you can do to have a positive impact. Consider your eating habits, for instance: do you eat at small, local restaurants? Or do you tend to play it safe and stick to chain restaurants or touristy establishments? If you want to be a more responsible traveler, it’s important to eat local. Not only does it mean that more money will flow directly into the community you’re staying in, it encourages local culture, and local restaurants also often use local products, meaning more work for local farmers and other businesses.

Eating at chains and tourist restaurants might seem harmless, but they often import their ingredients, driving up prices for everyone. They also deprive small local businesses of customers, and often use their power to keep wages low instead of contributing to the local economy. So if you want to be a more sustainable traveler: always eat to travel sustainably

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from Chalkie and the Chippy 

It isn’t always the most obvious item when thinking about travelling sustainably, but your accommodation choice plays an important role in what you are supporting. As a sustainable traveller, it is important to be supporting the local economy of the places you visit. So, staying in locally run accommodation can be one of the best ways to support and “give-back” to the community you are visiting. Any Homestays or Bed and Breakfasts are generally a locally owned accommodation, and you can find plenty of these on AirBnB.

But, what about if you want to stay somewhere more luxurious for your holidays? It is often overlooked, but when staying in glamorous 5-Star Resorts or Chain-Hotels you are often supporting a business owner outside of the country. However, that isn’t to say that these hotels aren’t incorporating sustainable initiatives and fair-trade work. If a hotel or resort holds sustainability highly, then they should disclose this on their website. If they don’t, then they probably aren’t the sustainable accommodation you are looking for. A quick Google search of sustainable hotels in the area will help you weed out those with good morals from the rest. Some sustainable initiatives to look out for include refillable water stations, saltwater swimming pool, reusable toiletries in the bathrooms and vegan and vegetarian options in the restaurants.

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from A Social Nomad

There is too much single-use plastic in the world and too little potable water. That’s why I carry a reusable filter water bottle.  Everywhere.    Yes, even in my home country of the UK, where you can drink the tap water.  (I just remove the filter and continue to use the bottle to carry water with me). In many developing countries, the first challenge to reduce single-useplastic is that there is no safe drinking water unless you buy bottled water (or use a filter water bottle).  The second challenge that there is no sustainable recycling program. At all.

You can help.  Avoid buying bottled water and stop contributing to the increasing problem of plastic in landfills and oceans. A great filter water bottle will remove Giardia and Cryptosporidium from untreated or contaminated water as well as other bugs which can cause nasty gastrointestinal diseases. If the only water source is a river or a stream, or even a muddy puddle, then a filter water bottle can clean that up for you too! And a filter water bottle will save money too!  I save on average US$425 a year just on drinking water by using this!

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from Travel Hacker Girl

Bike touring is a great way to travel sustainably. There are some really great long-distance cycling routes all over the world, so you should be able to find one that is easy for you to get to. Eurovelo is a famous cycling route in Europe. The Viking Coastal Trail is a family-friendly bike route in the UK. The 600-mile off-road Munda Biddi Trail in Australia goes through beautiful scenery. Bike touring is a slow way to travel. It gives you the possibility to see not only the main attractions but also the countryside. You will see how the locals live. It is a great way to get to know a country. Bike touring is also cheap. You just need a bike, bags, panniers and camping equipment. In most countries you can take bikes on trains, which is a very environmentally friendly way to get to your start point. In the UK it is free to transfer bikes as well.
cycle eco friendly

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from Full Time Explorer

One of the easiest ways to travel sustainably is to avoid animal tourism. A lot of people look for “Instagramable moments” when they travel, and sadly, things like animal tourism have been a go to for photo ops. One of the most popular forms of animal tourism is riding elephants. It’s so important for people to research animal tourism before participating. Just a quick Google search will show you how cruel this is to the animals. Elephants are actually tortured for weeks during the training process so that they submit to being ridden. Other animal tourism is similar. If you are taking photos with a full grown tiger, chances are it’s being drugged and sedated to ensure that it doesn’t act out. Always do your research and look for a sustainable way to interact with animals.

For instance, in Thailand there are a few wonderful elephant sanctuaries where elephants are rescued and roam free. At these sanctuaries, you get to walk with elephants through the jungle. In lieu of having a trainer beat them with a metal rod, you are given a bag of bananas and treats to encourage them to hang out with you. When the bananas run out, the elephants walk back into the jungle and do their own thing. At the end, you even get a chance to swim with elephants. It’s a more meaningful experience to connect with an elephant and show it love then to force it to submit for a photo opportunity.
sustainable travel tips

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from Snippets of Paris

One of the nicest ways to travel is also one that is more ecological: taking the train. Airplanes emit 3 times more CO2 emissions than the train. And that doesn’t even take into account how much easier the train is.  The train usually brings you right into the heart of the city, without hassle.   There is no need for long trips to the airports in the outer suburbs, arriving 2 hours in advance, checking in your luggage, customs, etc. Instead, you arrive a little bit in advance, check what quay your train is arriving at, and board your carriage easily with your own luggage in hand.  From where I live in Paris, I can be in London, Amsterdam, Brussels, etc in less than 4 hours by train.  Compare that to the amount of time it would take me to get to the airport and fly to those places. In addition, the seats on trains are usually more comfortable, with more space, wifi and legroom. The luxury!  And while that Ryanair flight might be technically cheaper, by the time you add all the costs that you get nickel-and-dimed for, you are probably no better. So next time you are tempted to fly somewhere, see if you can take a leisurely train journey instead!

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from Salut from Paris 

When walking along a beach, everyone has this reflex to pick up a shell or a stone to have a closer look. But to the usual natural flotsam are belonging also all sort of trash- parts of fishing nets, straws, bottles and many unidentified little pieces of plastic. If you set off for your next morning walk along the shore, bring a bag. Instead of only stopping for nice shells, pick up trash as you go.For your next trip, you also can check if a local group like “trash heroes” are planning a beach clean up near your destination.The organisation operates world wide with plenty of events year round. Every help is appreciated, there is usually not even a sign up required. Just show up and help cleaning. They will provide gloves and trash bags but you also can bring your own reusable gloves as well. It’s a great community feeling while doing something impact full.. and often a nearby restaurant would even provide some snacks and drinks.

beach clean

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from Smudged Postcard

There’s a reason why some destinations are full of tourists: they’re beautiful, fun to visit or incredibly interesting. However, some of these places are seasonal so in wintertime the likes of Venice, Barcelona or Santorini receive far fewer visitors. Many businesses are forced to shut in the low season and people have to migrate elsewhere in search of work which has both an economic and social impact on the destination. There is also a negative knock on effect of having all of your visitors in a short period: more accommodation is given over to tourists resulting in fewer places for locals to live and higher prices for those who do live there. Travellers should consider visiting these tourist “hotspots” in the low or shoulder season. Not only will the destination benefit from this out of season custom but the visitors in turn will receive a more genuine welcome and will have a more authentic experience of the place.

How to Travel Sustainably Tip from Glam Granola Travel

WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a volunteer organization pairing proactive, environmentally aware backpackers with local organic farms in need of hands. It has absolutely exploded around the globe in recent years; I’m pretty sure there’s a WWOOF-participating farm in almost every country now. It’s also my absolute favorite way to travel sustainablyIn exchange for lodging and food, you’ll volunteer a set number of hours per day on a local farm. Most farms’ hours are super reasonable and you’ll have days off to travel around the area. This is both a great way to experience rural life in more touristy countries, and a way to get to know locals you might not otherwise. For example, in Ireland WWOOFing allowed me to get off the beaten path, discover charming little towns I’d never heard of, and hitch hike around the gorgeous Irish countryside.


  • December 26, 2019

    These are some amazing tips for travelling sustainably! So many different ideas and will definitely take on board when I travel next! x

    Lucy |


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