Traveling as a whole is not an eco-friendly act. Flying, driving and traveling to places outside of our homes use mass amounts of gas and resources.
To be honest, considering the planet while traveling wasn’t really something that I ever really thought about until this year. I went to a panel a few months ago where three very popular travel bloggers/influencers were asked how they considered the environment when they traveled and all three of them were thrown off guard and all answered with only a few words that they didn’t consider it at all. It kind of brought an awkward pause to the panel that they couldn’t expand on the topic.
This year the United Nations is promoting sustainable tourism, something that I think needs to be brought to the forefront of the travel space more. I don’t think people will be eliminating the luxury of travel because of climate change but there are small things you can do while you’re traveling to help protect the planet.
Here are some ways that you can be eco-friendly when you travel.
The best thing you can do is gain as much information as you can. Are you visiting a site where people, animals, places or nature have been displaced for the sake of tourism and it seems destructive? Do the staff and guides seem like they value what they are showing you and trying to be respectful. Try and find tours or organizations that are trying to support locals and their communities in an authentic and positive way.
Recycle or return bottles to where they came from
Try and find a place to recycle the plastic bottles that you use. If you’re not sure, ask someone local how you can recycle it. Every country deals with recycling differently. Many countries use glass soda bottles that they reuse and gather deposits for. If you are buying a drink that comes in a glass bottle the vendor will probably want you to drink the beverage there so they can collect your bottle.
Bring a reusable water bottle
I do this even if I’m traveling to a place where I can’t drink the tap water. Often hotels will have filtered water for guests that you can use to refill your bottles. Otherwise I like to purchase a large jug of water to keep in my room and refill my small bottle from instead of buying a lot of individual plastic water bottles.
This might seem like common sense but be aware and keep track of your trash and dispose of it properly.
Don’t waste water/electricity
Turn the lights and faucet off if you’re not using them. Especially if you’re in a place where electricity and water aren’t as widespread a commodity as they are here at home.
Take cold showers
If you happen to be traveling to a tropical climate, cold showers don’t seem that bad at all and can be refreshing. Not using hot water saves electricity.
Carry a reusable bag in your purse
Especially for when you’re souvenir shopping or grocery shopping. I love using Flip & Tumble reusable bags. In some cities and countries it is actually illegal for plastic bags to be used in stores.
Souvenir shop with care
Today you can travel all over the world and see mass produced souvenirs that have made in a factory far away from the country that you are shopping in. Even at famous local markets. I’m not opposed to buying these things from time to time but don’t be afraid to ask questions about your purchases or spend a little more money at a local artisan shop.
Walk, ride your bicycle or use public transportation
If you can avoid using gas and can walk or ride a bicycle, do it. Some hotels will lend bikes out to their guests so you don’t need to worry about finding one. Otherwise, try and use the local public transportation over taxis.
Share taxis with other travelers
See if anyone else at your hotel is headed to the airport or to an attraction at the same time you are. Saves money and gas!
Call your congressperson
If you live in the U.S. and there’s a sustainable travel issue that is important to you, call your local congressperson and leave them a message. It might be something that they weren’t even aware of or that needs more support for them to pay attention to.
Read more about a place that I am passionate about conserving: The Largest Cave in the World – Hang Son Doong, Vietnam
SHOP THE STORY