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From jet fuel to styrofoam to-go containers to plastic toiletries, many people don’t realize how much can be wasted during a trip. Luckily, there are easy ways to be more environmentally conscious while still enjoying your travels. Before you head on your next trip, follow our 10 tips for eco-friendly travel.
Eco-Friendly Travel Tips
Written By: Marijs Vrancken
We all know that traveling and taking airplanes has an impact on the environment. This doesn’t mean you can’t travel, but you can try to minimize your ecologic footprint with a few small tweaks to your travel habits.
What Does Eco-Friendly Travel Mean?
Also known as green travel or eco-tourism, eco-friendly travel means you are making a conscious effort to reduce waste and make less of a negative impact on Mother Nature while on your trip. Reducing your carbon footprint helps the planet so all of our favorite destinations remain beautiful for years to come.
There are countless ways to travel green, and some of them require more extreme measures (such as avoiding air travel). While this isn’t possible for many trips, there are small and easy ways you can be more sustainable.
This may sound like one of the more surprising tips for eco-friendly travel, but it’s true that your luggage weight makes a difference. We are big fans of packing light because it saves you a lot of effort carrying all that luggage around. Moreover, it also helps reducing the CO2 emissions of the plane or train on which you’re traveling. The lighter the vehicle is, the less fuel they have to use, reducing the effect it has on the environment.
Find out how to pack in 5kg with this easy packing hack!
Take Public Transportation When Possible
Taking public transport in a foreign country is an adventure on its own, especially if you are the only foreigner on the bus. However, when it comes to the environment, traveling by public bus, subway, tram, or trolley is a more eco-friendly option than taking a short haul flight.
Sometimes public transport doesn’t take you where you want to go and road trips are in order. If you are renting a car, try to go for the smallest possible model. This will save you money and reduce the amount of fuel you’ll need, making it one of my favorite tips for eco-friendly travel.
Find out eight things you can do to make long trips more comfortable!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Even if your home country has a good recycling program, the country you’re visiting may not. This is especially the case for third-world countries or areas that don’t have the means to recycle. In these countries, what you toss in a bin may end up on a landfill.
Recycle everything you can at home because once you reach your destination you might not be able to find any recycling bins. Or worse, they may burn all their waste, which releases harmful chemicals into the air.
Unpack any accessories or toiletries from their plastic or cardboard containers and remove any clothing tags beforehand. You can also pack any plastics you used up in your bag to recycle when you return home.
Take a look at these 25 lesser-known travel necessities!
Use Fewer One-Use Plastics
Plastic is filling up our oceans like there is no tomorrow. We’ve all heard the horror stories about whales and turtles dying because there is too much plastic in their bellies. And those are just the big plastics. Plastic is known to break up, not break down (like organic waste). This means that it will continue to break up into tiny particles until they are floating all around the ocean.
There are so many ways in which you can reduce the waste that you leave behind. For starters, when going shopping, take your own vegetable and shopping bags, or carry a backpack to store them in. This isn’t just one of the best tips for eco-friendly travel, but is also a great tip for days at home, too.
Here are 10 of the best beach bags and totes you can use for your daily essentials, shopping, and to bring back extra souvenirs, too!
Replace your plastic toothbrush with a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush, and replace your tampons with a reusable menstrual cup. This cup puts less of a strain on the environment. It also takes up less space in your bag and saves you a ton of money!
Learn about menstrual cup pros and cons to decide if this is a good option for you!
Pick Up Trash When You See It
Whether it is local garbage or garbage that has washed up from another country, you can find rubbish on most beaches and in parks or cities around the world. Pitch in by picking up anything you find and toss it in a trash can.
If you’re on an extended trip and have some down time, consider spending an afternoon volunteering with a beach clean-up group. Not only are you giving back to the environment, but you can also meet locals and make new friends!
This is another one of the best tips for eco-friendly travel to follow wherever you are. Buying locally-grown fruits will not only taste better, but their CO2 footprint will be a lot smaller than of fruit flown over from a different continent.
The same goes for clothing and souvenirs. Locally-made items don’t have to be shipped from across the world. Plus, purchasing these items contributes to the country’s economy and supports small businesses. And who doesn’t love authentic souvenirs?
BYO Water Bottle
If you were to count every empty bottle of water that you’ve ever thrown away, the results would be pretty mind-boggling. Taking your own water bottle allows you to drink water without creating waste.
There are still a lot of countries that don’t have drinkable water, which makes it difficult to refill. However, more and more hostels around the world are having water tanks available for their guests. There are also water bottles that contain carbon filters so you can purify the water before drinking it.
Bringing your own water bottle also helps you save money as you won’t have to constantly purchase a new water bottle when you’re thirsty. If you can’t pack your own water bottle, purchase one plastic bottle and refill it throughout your trip.
Here are our daily travel essentials you can carry in your day bag!
Bring a Travel Coffee Mug
Aside from water bottles, single-use coffee cups significantly pollute the environment and fill up landfills. Taking your own reusable coffee mug is not only handy but also a bonus for the environment. Plus, there are so many cool looking mugs on the market!
The same goes for K-cups. Consider bringing a reusable k-cup so you don’t have to use plastic ones at the hotel or hostel.
Look For Environmentally-Minded Hotels and Hostels
Perhaps one of the most influential tips for eco-friendly travel is supporting sustainable businesses. If you choose to travel with an operator, ask how they contribute to the local communities and what they give back to the area they’re visiting. Tourism is a welcome source of income when tour operators have a positive impact!
This also goes for hotels or hostels. Check whether they use any environmentally-friendly energy sources, whether they are they getting rid of their waste in a sustainable manner, and how are they helping the local community.
You’d be surprised to see just how many green tourism options there are in many countries. As more people become aware of the benefits of sustainable practices, more travel tours and hotels are making an effort to be sustainable.
Are hostels safe? Here are our tips for women staying in hostels!
Use Less Electricity in Your Room
Whenever you leave your room, make an effort to turn off all the electricity so you don’t waste energy. Especially in hostels, this is often overlooked. If you can’t turn the air-conditioning off in the room, chat with the management about making their hotel more eco-friendly.
Don’t forget to unplug any devices, even if they’re turned off, as they still consume power.
Visit this power outlet guide for travelers to see a full list of plugs and outlets by country.
What are your additional tips for eco-friendly travel? Share in the comments below!
For more travel packing tips, please read:
- Top 10 Hostel Travel Essentials
- Tips for Women Staying in Hostels
- How to Prevent Bed Bugs While Traveling
- Best Eco-Friendly Must Have Products
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Author Bio: Marijs left the fashion industry to travel the world two years ago. For her, travel is all about seeing incredible nature and wildlife. The biggest bonus is meeting amazing people, telling stories, and capturing moments on her blog Rooftop Antics. 30 countries later, Marijs is now based in Australia, working remotely and traveling the rest of New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.