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The Eco-Conscious Traveler's Handbook: Sustainable Travel 101

The Eco-Conscious Traveler's Handbook: Sustainable Travel 101

 Whether it’s down the road or across the continent, travel can make a big impact. Use the principles of sustainable travel to ensure yours is a positive one.

Are you passionate about traveling and want to make a positive impact on the environment? This guide will provide you with valuable sustainable travel tips and advice on reducing your carbon footprint and supporting local communities. Start your journey towards sustainable tourism today and make a difference in the world.

The Three Pillars Of Sustainable Travel

Eco-travel sounds like a great buzzword. But what does it really entail? In a world where greenwashing is more common than real green solutions, it’s ok (and even good) to be a little skeptical.

To ensure that your travel decisions are truly benefiting the environment, evaluate them through the three pillars of sustainable travel. Whenever possible, make choices that benefit one of these three areas.


Whenever possible, make plans that are low-impact, or make a positive impact. Choosing public transportation over renting a car or visiting a marine reserve rather than a zoo are great examples of this.


Just as important as supporting the planet is supporting the people who live on it. When you’re away from home, socio-cultural sustainability can look like: learning about local indigenous traditions, ensuring that you support businesses that pay their employees a living wage, and visiting popular tourist destinations during off-peak seasons.


How can your trip support the local economies you visit? Rather than booking corporate tours or eating at chain restaurants, consider hiring local guides, eating at local food spots, and taking the time to ensure the souvenirs you bring back are made by members of the community you travel to.

Sustainable Travel Tips For Any Excursion

No matter where you’re headed, use these tips for eco-travel. You’ll leave feeling better about your impact. And, you just might be surprised by what you gain, too.

Plan To Move Slower

Living consciously, in any aspect of life, often requires a different pace. When you’re planning your next trip, consider slowing things down. ‘Move slowly’ might not seem “green” at first glance. But consider this: speeding through life is often where the most waste is caused.

Fast-food restaurants create unneeded trash. Running to the store last minute often means that you’ll forget those reusable bags. And traveling at a break-neck speed makes it harder to explore consciously.

So, say no to visiting three National Parks in one week, which might require multiple airplane rides or hundreds of miles on the road. Instead, settle on one to discover during that time. For starters, you’ll reduce the distance travel. Making this switch will allow you to choose a slower mode of transport (which almost always has a lower carbon footprint). And, you’ll be able to connect with the local community in ways that aren’t possible in a single day.

By planning a slower-moving trip, you’re already on the right track to being a sustainable traveler!

Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodations

One of the easiest ways to be a sustainable traveler is to choose eco-friendly accommodations. Look for hotels, resorts, or guesthouses that have implemented sustainable practices such as using renewable energy sources, conserving water, and minimizing waste. You can also opt for eco-lodges or homestays that are built with environmentally friendly materials and support local communities.

By staying in eco-friendly accommodations, you can minimize your impact on the environment and contribute to the preservation of natural resources.

It can be hard to know where to start, and many websites have unclear or confusing information regarding sustainability. Use a booking tool like BookDifferent to discover eco-friendly options along your route.

Consider Lower-Impact Transportation Options

One of the key aspects of sustainable travel is minimizing your carbon footprint. This means reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are released into the atmosphere as a result of your travel activities. There are several ways you can do this.

First, consider choosing transportation options that have a lower carbon footprint, such as taking a train or bus instead of flying, or opting for a bike or walking tour instead of driving. If a flight is necessary, consider offsetting your emissions. This can be done by participating in carbon offset programs, which involve investing in projects that reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions.

Travel With Your Eco-Essentials

No matter where you’re headed, a few reusable items can always come in handy. That’s why one of our favorite sustainable travel tips is this: create a travel bag or kit dedicated to items that will help you keep waste to a minimum while you’re away from home. A reusable bamboo straw (bye, plastic), utensils, a water bottle, and a shopping bag or two are great places to start.

In addition, do your best to pack low-impact toiletries. If you’re headed to a water destination, do your research and find a reputable reef-safe sunscreen. Camping or staying in an off-grid resort? Bring along personal care products that are biodegradable, such as Dr. Bronner’s soap.

When traveling sustainably, it's important to support local communities and businesses. By choosing to eat at local restaurants, shop at local markets, and participate in local tours and activities, you can contribute to the economic growth and development of the community you are visiting. This not only helps to preserve the local culture and traditions but also ensures that the benefits of tourism are shared with the local people.

And, if you’d like to tip a server or guide that made your trip particularly pleasant, consider leaving a cash tip in the local currency. This is a good way to ensure that they receive the full amount you leave for them.

In particular, consider how you might learn about and support the indigenous culture of the area you are visiting. Attending an informative talk, or event, or buying indigenous crafts are fantastic ways to do this.

Why sustainable travel is good (for you, and the planet)

It’s true– traveling with the environment in mind requires more forethought and research. And in reality, it’s impossible to get it right all the time. But, explore the world in this way, and you’ll see the benefits play out in real-time.  

Stop by a local, farm-to-table restaurant, and you’ll enjoy a fresh meal that nourishes your body. At the same time, you’ll find yourself directly benefiting the community you’re visiting.

Travel by train instead of plane, and you’ll drastically lower the carbon footprint of your journey. All the while, you’ll experience a slower look at the landscapes you’re traveling through.

Sustainable travel has clear environmental and social impacts. The impact it has on you, though, might just come as a surprise.

Not sure where to begin? Kick-start your sustainable tourism aspirations by building your very own eco-travel kit.



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