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Your Ultimate Guide on How to Travel Sustainably

What Is Sustainable Travel?

Sustainability is defined as meeting the wants of today without compromising the needs of tomorrow. 

Learning how to travel sustainably is about making mindful choices that positively impact the environment, cultures, travel destinations and the local communities that you visit. 

And no, you do not have to be a tree hugging hippie to care about our planet and want to travel more sustainably.

Traveling sustainably is super easy and not complicated at all! 

In fact, the most significant way that you (YES YOU) can travel sustainably is simply by incorporating just a couple of the sustainable travel tips that you will learn in this article.

I have studied environmental policy and have professional experience in natural resources conservation, so I learned a lot about how our actions affect the world around us. Which is why I want to help encourage you to travel at least 1% more sustainably, so we can preserve the beautiful destinations that we travel to every year. 

The Urgent Need For Sustainable Travel

Our travels have a direct impact on local communities and our planet. 

For better or for worse….

According to the Sustainable Travel International, the travel industry is responsible for about 8% of global carbon emissions.

Not only that, but our travels can lead to loss of biodiversity in animal and plant species, habitat destruction, water scarcity, and more. 

But that doesn’t mean that you should give up traveling. 

Instead, we need to focus on sustainable practices, and hold companies to a high standard when we are booking with them. 

Because, ultimately, you vote with your dollar. 

Thankfully, in a recent study from Booking.com, over the next 2 months, 76% of travelers say they want to travel more sustainably. 

This is great but there is still more that needs to be done if we want to preserve our environment. 

Why You Should Care about Traveling Sustainably: 

Why you should care about traveling sustainably

You can explore the world you love: 

We all love to travel, experience new foods, new cultures, and new destinations. This is the best part of traveling! Especially when we can share it with people we love, including future generations. 

And there are plenty of great Sustainable Travel Destinations in the US that you can visit and fall in love with! But no matter where you travel to, you also have the choice to make responsible choices so future travelers also fall in love with that destination too! 

You can preserve natural beauty: 

When we travel, we often visit places that are home to unique animals and plants. These areas are special, but they’re also very sensitive to changes, especially those caused by people.

Millions of animals are affected by tourists each year. But when you travel sustainably, you can help protect wildlife and keep their homes safe.

If you have ever been on a hike or out in nature, you may know how important each part of nature is. 

Hiking in the mountains in Icelands

Which is exactly what my hiking trip in Iceland taught me. They showed me that everything in nature is connected and how much these environments need to be protected.

Every time we travel, we have a chance to make a positive impact. By choosing eco-friendly ways to see the world, like staying on marked trails and not littering, we help protect these delicate ecosystems. 

You can help local communities: 

When you visit a new place, you have the power to support local communities while creating unforgettable memories. 

When you travel, try to avoid mega hotels or food chains, and instead try to support local businesses that prioritize eco-friendly practices.

For example, you can join tours run by local guides that have a certification in sustainable practices, such as B-Corp certified, Carbon Neutral Company, etc. 

As you start to support local businesses that prioritize sustainable practices, you will directly help the local communities within the area that you’re traveling to. 

In fact, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council report, Around 1 in 10 jobs in the world are related to tourism. So as you

You can leave a positive footprint: 

Your travel choices matter! 

It has a direct impact on local communities, people, wildlife, and the planet! So you have the power to vote with your dollar to invest in companies that have sustainable or responsible practices. You have the choice to leave a positive footprint whenever you travel. 

Tips On How To Travel Sustainably

Tips for how to travel sustainably
Tips for how to travel sustainably

So now that you know more about the importance of sustainable tourism, you can start incorporating these small sustainable travel tips into your next travel routine!

So now that you know more about the importance of sustainable tourism, you can start incorporating these small sustainable travel tips into your next travel routine!

Ditch Single-Use Plastics

One of the easiest ways to reduce plastic waste is to eliminate single-use plastics from your travel routine.

  • Start by carrying your own reusable water bottle, which will not only help you stay hydrated but also reduce the need for plastic bottles.
  • Bring your own shopping bag from home and avoid the unnecessary plastic waste.
    • Key Traveler Tip: Some countries ban the use of plastic bags, so avoid the additional fees or run-ins with local authorities and bring a reusable bag instead!
  • Before leaving home, remove excessive packaging from products and remember to recycle them properly. This is because not all countries have recycling facilities. 
  • Lastly, say no to plastic straws and opt for eco-friendly alternatives.

Think About Zero Waste

  • Purchase or assemble a packable cutlery set to avoid using disposable utensils during your journey.
  • Pack reusable straws and eliminate items that contain microplastics from your travel and home cleansing routine.

Save Water Through Small Changes

Water conservation is crucial, especially in areas where water scarcity is a concern. As an eco conscious traveler, make an effort to save water during your travels by taking shorter showers.

  • Whenever possible, try to eat foods that are less water intensive. 
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Reusing bath towels and linens by putting the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your hotel room door. 

Conserve Electricity

Reducing energy consumption is an essential part of sustainable travel. 

  • Remember to turn off lights when you leave a room to save electricity.
  • Adjust the thermostat to whenever you’re not home to conserve energy whenever possible.

Pack Light for a Greener Flight

Every pound of luggage adds to the carbon emissions of an airplane. By packing light, you can reduce your carbon footprint. 

  • Consider the weight of your belongings and opt for travel-friendly options when replacing items in your wardrobe and gear. Lightweight and odor-resistant clothing can help minimize the weight of your luggage, eliminating the need for excessive packing and the necessity of doing laundry during your trip.

Opt in transportation with a lower carbon footprint

  • Opt into flights that offer reduced carbon emissions or carbon neutral flights. The price may slightly increase (by just a few dollars), but this is a small price to pay to insure your flights have a carbon offset option. 
  • ​​Choose public transportation, such as buses or trains, to reduce emissions, while immersing yourself in local culture. 
  • Embrace cycling or walking to explore cities without contributing to pollution. (Only when it’s safe to do so) 
  • Try to share rides through carpooling or ridesharing to minimize vehicles on the road while meeting other travelers. 
  • Opt for eco-friendly vehicles like hybrids or electric cars when renting to reduce your carbon footprint. 
  • Support local eco-tours that utilize low-impact transportation options like electric boats or bicycles, allowing you to enjoy nature while being environmentally conscious.

Conclusion:

There you have it! 

Extremely easy ways that you can follow to make your next vacation more sustainable! 

By following this guide on how to travel sustainably, you can create unforgettable memories while making sustainable travel choices.

Let’s leave footprints and not trash!

Footsteps along Iceland’s Beach Coast
Footsteps along Iceland’s Beach Coast

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How to Travel Sustainably Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Sustainable tourism is all about exploring the world while treading lightly. It’s a way to discover new places without leaving a big carbon footprint behind.

No, not at all! Traveling sustainably is extremely easy and can actually be cheaper than traditional ways of traveling! It is something that anyone, from beginner to experienced travelers can do!

Sustainable travel helps keep our planet and the local communities thriving. By being mindful of the places we visit, we’re ensuring they’ll still be around for others to enjoy in the future. Plus, sustainability matters when it comes to the well-being of our planet.

Put your money where your heart is by supporting local businesses, artists, and food stalls. Dive into local culture and traditions, eat local foods, and engage with local residents in ways that respect the culture you’re visiting.

Definitely! Dodge those plastic waste like a pro. Use recycling and compost bins when you can, and think twice about overly packaged souvenirs.

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