Travel is so much fun but it can take a toll on the environment. From CO2 emission, energy consumption in transportation and accommodation, and unnecessary wastes that goes to the landfill, the list goes on and on.
Since travelling is a big part of my personal and professional life, I’m very conscious of how my actions affect the environment and the world. And because I spent so much time on the road each year, I put even more emphasis on doing the best that I can and be a more eco-conscious traveller.
The good news is there are many ways to travel more sustainably. Keep reading and I’ll show you how to travel sustainably by actively considering environmental issues and the things you can do to help the earth.
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How to be a sustainable traveller: 10 ways to travel more sustainably
Sustainable travel should be on every traveller’s mind. Here are 10 sustainable travel tips to keep in mind when you are going on your next trip.
1. Find ways to minimize carbon footprint while travelling
CO2 emission from air travel has a huge impact and we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as the aviation sector continues to grow.
One way to minimize the carbon footprint is to fly direct instead of on multiple flights. The takeoff and landing of a plane cause the most carbon footprint.
Another way to offset carbon footprint is to fly the most logical or direct path instead of taking multiple flights crisscrossing places you are visiting. For example, if you are visiting Lisbon, Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam, fly in this order instead of flying from Lisbon to Paris, then to Barcelona and then finally to Amsterdam.
However, if it is at all possible, try other transportation modes like trains and buses to even offset the carbon footprint further.
Benefits of minimizing carbon footprint:
- Less carbon footprint
- Flying direct may result in less time in travelling
- Possible cost savings
- Enjoy other modes of transportation
2. Walk everywhere and take public transportation
Walking is excellent for your health and also the ultimate environmentally friendly way to travel.
As a solo traveller, I tend to be on foot as much as I can because I want to take in everything at a relatively good pace. I plan my travels around pedestrian-friendly cities because that is my preferred way to site see. Walking may be one of the most natural way and exciting ways to see a new place. You don’t need a lot of planning but get up and go.
If walking is not possible, take public transportation instead of driving your vehicle. At any time, if you can take part in any type of shared transportation, it will be better for the environment.
Benefits of walking everywhere and taking transit:
- Less carbon footprint
- Healthier lifestyle
- Enjoy travel as a pedestrian
3. Have a minimalist traveller mindset when it comes to packing and spending
I really enjoy travelling with less and have been enjoying the benefits of a minimalist mindset. These days, I try to pack a carry-on backpack that is less than 7kg for all of my trips.
My favourite minimalist backpack holds all of my travel wardrobe, toiletries and other travel essentials. And that is all I need. Pretty simple, right? It does take a bit of practice when it comes to packing. To help you get started, here is my template for minimalist packing list.
Having a minimalist mindset also aligns with how I buy things. I tend to buy less things which saves a lot of unnecessary waste that goes to the landfill and a lot of money. It is a win-win for the environment and my wallet!
Benefits of having a minimalist mindset:
- Use less fuel when you check-in lighter baggage
- Minimize waste to the landfill from buying less things
- Focus on your journey
- Focus on what is vital in life and not be bogged down by stuff
4. Buy quality products over cheap products
It is tempting to purchase inexpensive items because well, most of us have a budget.
For example, buying trendy clothing from fast fashion stores is very wallet-friendly. But the low-quality clothing will quickly end up at a clothing donation or even in the garbage. For the ones donated, they might not even be repurposed or even be sold at local charity stores. Statistics show that only about 1% of clothing is recycled into new clothing.
In the long run, it is better to invest in quality clothing items. Buy a quality t-shirt that you can wear for a long time instead of a cheap one from a fast fashion store that may last you five days (I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean).
The same thing can be said for almost everything else. Buy a quality backpack, comfortable shoes, etc.
Invest in the pieces that are important to you. In return, it will minimize the amount of waste going to the landfill.
Benefits of buying quality items:
- Less garbage going to landfill
- Support businesses that provide quality products
- In the long run, you will save more money
5. Eat-in instead of getting take-out
I know I am guilty of this from time to time. As a solo traveller, sometimes I just feel like getting take-out and eat it at my accommodation. I don’t have any issues eating alone, but sometimes I just want to eat and watch Netflix or Youtube. I don’t mean to be anti-social but yeah.
If you are going to a restaurant already, why not experience it fully by dining in? Not only will you eliminate the use of disposable containers and utensils, but you can also experience the atmosphere as well. And there’s a better chance for you to meet other travellers eating out than in front of your laptop!
Benefits of eating in at restaurants:
- Eliminate the use of disposable containers and utensils
- Enjoy the atmosphere and restaurant
- Possibly meeting new friends over great food
6. Bring re-usable products
There are several re-usable products that I always bring with me wherever I go.
A squeeze water bottle is super helpful for plane rides and day trips. I usually fill it up whenever I find a water fountain or water filter at my accommodation. Or I boil water in certain cities whenever tap water is unsafe for consumption. And as a bonus, the water bottle doubles as a neti pot (for my allergies).
And ladies, if you haven’t tried a menstrual cup yet, you should at least give it a try. I love my Diva Cup (sometimes). I love it because I don’t have to carry months of supplies in my carry-on backpack. Although sometimes it is not as convenient when you are in a public bathroom. But I look past all of it because I know I’m doing my part in eliminating waste. We all have to make sacrifices, and this is my way of doing my part to save the earth.
Below are a few of my favourite re-usable travel products.
Benefits of using re-usable products:
- Save money from buying non-reusable items
- Minimize plastic water bottle wastes
- Multiple purposes (water bottle and a neti pot)
- Minimize garbage (pads and tampons)
- Eliminate the need to find pads and tampons at your destination, which they may or may not have your brand
7. Use natural and environmentally safe products
From shampoo, conditioner, to any facial product, there are many options and choosing an environmentally friendly product is great not only for the environment but also for your health.
Because I only travel with a carry-on backpack, I am limited to bring fewer things with me. I love the Lush Seanik Shampoo Bar. The 2-in-1 vegan shampoo bar is made with natural ingredients and safe synthetics. I love my solid shampoo bar so much that it is the only thing I use even when I am not travelling.
And when I want to use an exfoliant for my face and body or make a deep cleansing shampoo, I can buy simple and natural ingredients to make my own DIY toiletries that are safe for the environment.
Benefits of using natural and environmentally safe products:
- Less plastic bottles
- Better for travellers who only travel with a carry-on bag
- Natural ingredients that are good for your skin and health
- Natural synthetics that will not harm the environment
8. Stay in shared accommodation if possible
Staying in a hostel has many benefits. Not only do you save a bit of money but you are also utilizing space most efficiently. For most travellers, we only need a space to sleep, somewhere to put our belongings away and a bathroom to freshen up. The bonus is the common area where travellers share a space to eat, mingle and meet other travellers.
Or if you prefer to stay in a hotel or private apartment, why not get a room or apartment that has just enough space for yourself? If the apartment is too big, you are using more electricity to heat or cool the area.
Benefits of sharing accommodations:
- Use less energy to heat and cool a space
- Save money by staying at a shared or economical accommodation
- Opportunity to meet new people
9. Support the local economy
When you shop at your local grocery store or local farmer’s market, you are putting money back into the local economy. Locals can benefit from the money from tourism so they can expand their businesses, support their families and put the money back into the city.
While you are directly affecting the local economy financially, you will also benefit from getting the freshest and healthiest produce. What better way than to interact with locals, visit local attractions and support them in a meaningful way?
Benefits of supporting local economy:
- Money is directly put back into the local economy
- Get fresh organic produce
- Eat healthier
- Visit and enjoy local attractions
- Interact with locals
10. Enjoy slow travel
Do you like the concept of slow travel? If so, there are many benefits to the environment when it comes to slow travel.
Slow travel allows you to enjoy a place at a slower pace. And because you are staying put in one place, you are not travelling as much, which means less carbon footprint and less pollution.
And you can take advantage of the long-term (weekly or monthly) accommodation discounts.
Benefits of slow travelling:
- Less carbon footprint
- Less pollution
- Take advantage of long-term accommodation discount
- Enjoy a new place and not rushing through it
Are you inspired by these eco friendly travel tips?
Do you like these eco travel tips? Do you think it will help you become a more sustainable traveller? Responsible tourism should be integrated into our travel lives. There is so much you can do to help the environment. Even if you are not travelling, there are many things you can do to be more eco-friendly through everyday choices.
And if you come up with more ideas on how to travel more sustainably, let me know in the comments below.