When you think of eco-friendly traveling, the first thing that might come to mind is camping or riding a bike as you travel across the country. However, it is much broader than that. While some people can take traveling green to the extreme, you are doing your part as long as you are environmentally-conscious during your travels.

One of the easiest things that you should remember whenever you’re traveling is to leave no trace while on your hiking or camping trips, or reducing your carbon emissions. If you care about the environment and love to travel at the same time, here are some easy ways on how you have an eco-friendly adventure.

airplane mountains margo brodowicz
Photo by Margo Brodowicz.

Minimize emissions with longer trips

The aviation industry contributes about four to nine percent of the total climate change impact. This will likely double or triple by the time 2050 rolls in. Unlike driving or taking the train, air travel has a greater climate impact than you might think. The best solution is to take longer vacations. Not only can it help you to enjoy a location more and you have the chance to really get to know it, but it is also better for the environment. The longer your vacation will be, the less frequent you are going to fly every year.

Also, try packing light. This reduces the amount of weight that a plane carries, therefore reducing gasoline usage. You can bring with you a carry-on luggage if you want a free or low-cost option when you fly–it can also be a cheaper option than checking a bag.

Make smart accommodation choices

More and more eco-friendly hotels and hostels have begun popping up all over the world. By choosing these hotels, you can lessen your environmental impact while you are in a certain location. Most of these accommodations have made efforts to be greener by decreasing the amount of water used in cooking and sewage systems, using heating and cooling responsibly, and promoting clean-up activities in local communities.

When you support these establishments, you are choosing to make a commitment toward a more sustainable future. Not only better for the environment, but it also creates a  trend that the world of tourism desperately needs at this point. You can also research eco-certification and standards before booking your accommodations. These vary country per country, so do your research in advance before booking. 

sustainable travel tips jakub kapusnak
Photo by Jakub Kapsunak.

Shop and eat like a local

Although buying local products is not necessarily cheaper in other countries, your money can help support local shop owners instead of giant companies. Check out a few guides to the area online and seek out establishments that are owned by local people. Not only will communities benefit, but you will also feel great when you know where your money is going. 

Traveling also gives you a chance to try different types of food that you would not have otherwise tasted back home. When you choose what is traditionally consumed, you are more likely to experience the flavors of the culture and you get the chance to understand the local people more. Eating local food and supporting local agriculture is also a great way to decrease your carbon footprint whenever you are traveling. That’s because this encourages more local food to stay in the area, rather than be up for export. 

Bring your refillable water bottle

Bottled water is available pretty much anywhere, and is safe enough to drink. However, it is not sustainable. If you are constantly discarding plastic without recycling, it can end up leading to a lot of waste in the long run. One easy way to combat this is by  bringing a reusable water bottle with you during your trip.

You may even bring reusable travel silverware and straws. People throw-away billions of utensils each year, and most of them end up harming the environment. Therefore, carrying your own utensils with you when you travel helps reduce the plastic crisis.

Use public and sustainable transportation or walk

Instead of taking a cab or renting a private vehicle, why not look up for some great local biking companies in your travel destination? Even better, why not walk? Both walking and biking are some of the best ways to incorporate  sustainable travel into your trip.

Riding a bike can be a great way to feast your eyes to the amazing views and the culture of the city you’re in. If navigating a foreign city on your own can be a bit daunting, why not join a bike tour and get a chance to meet new people? Similarly, walking tours are also a great alternative. Along with a tour guide who knows his stuff, you can learn more about the environment, and you can become a more conscious traveler. 

Better yet, take public transportation. Not only that it’s a great way to get from one point to another, but it’s also a more environmentally friendly way of getting around. It reduces the number of emissions of vehicles in highly dense areas, decreases smog, and the health risks of poor air quality in the environment.

sustainable travel tips tanner vines
Photo by Tanner Vines.

Leave no trace

As they say, no matter where you travel, all you should  leave behind are just footprints. More eco-friendly travelers even believe that you should leave a certain place better than you have originally found it. That involves picking up pieces of trash that you see on beaches or placing wastes on waste containers so it does not get carried away to the ocean. Make sure that you employ this attitude when you are participating in outdoor activities. Stay on the path when hiking trails and do not pick flowers or get too close to local wildlife.

Traveling is a great way to open your eyes to the beautiful world that surrounds you. However, it should be done with integrity and by being responsible to the environment. With these tips, you can make sure that your next trip is more sustainable and that the location remains for future generations.

What have sustainable travel tips do you have?

Header photo by Matt Lamers.

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Geraldine Mills
Geraldine Mills is a self-confessed wanderluster from the land down under, Australia! She funds her adventures by working as a travel writer. She loves sharing the allure of backpacking and being one with nature.