It’s always fun to travel around and see what else the world has to offer. Traveling can open doors, can offer life changing opportunities, and can lead to an experience that one will never forget. However, even when on vacation, it is important to protect the environment and stay green. Here are 25 tips for traveling sustainably:
- Book a nonstop flight – Much of the carbon footprint of an airplane is in taking off and landing¹. Booking a nonstop flight minimizes this excess release of carbon dioxide and minimizes the impact to the environment.
- Travel by bus, ship, or train to your destination – Buses, trains and ships generally have a smaller carbon footprint than an airplane. Traveling with any of these means of transport helps cut down on carbon emissions overall¹.
- Carpool – Traveling alone in a car can be a necessity, but when going on road trips, always travel with other people to reduce the environmental impact.
- Rent a hybrid or electric car – When in a new city, oftentimes it is easier to get around and see the sights by renting a car. When possible, rent a hybrid or electric car to reduce fuel consumption.
- When possible, walk, bike or use public transportation – Walking, biking or using public transportation cuts down, if not completely reduces the use of fossil fuels and helps the environment.
- Try to go paperless – Traveling requires many documents. Try going paperless for boarding passes, maps, itinerary, or anything that can be accessed online to cut down on excess paper use when possible.
- Choose a sustainable or green hotel – Does the hotel have solar panels? Do they have a recycling program? Do they implement water saving mechanisms into their facility? These are all questions to consider when choosing a green hotel².
- Bring a refillable water bottle – This one is self-explanatory, but is a great way to keep from being wasteful and polluting the earth with plastic bottles.
- Conserve water when showering, brushing teeth or washing dishes – Make sure to shower and avoid baths, always turn off the water when brushing your teeth and washing dishes.
- Avoid hotel laundry service – Many hotels wash each guest’s clothes separately¹. This means that a load of laundry might only contain a few pieces of clothing which can waste gallons of water.
- Put the “do not disturb” sign on the door – Putting this sign up on the door is a good way to limit your environmental footprint by limiting useless cleaning and the use of chemicals that pollute the environment.
- Hang towels after use – After showering, one tip is to hang the towels back up to let housekeeping know that you will use them the next day. Washing towels that have only been used once wastes gallons of water and can be easily avoided.
- Turn off heat/AC lights and unplug electronics when away for the day – Although not in use, a plugged in appliance still uses electricity¹. Additionally, why heat or cool an empty room? Turning off and unplugging electronics goes a long way in saving electricity.
- Recycle or give back maps or brochures when done using them – Many places like zoos, amusement parks or other attractions provide maps or brochures to their patrons. This can lead to piles and piles of maps that have been used once or discarded. When finished, always return or recycle them to cut down on waste.
- Pick up trash while in nature and recycle – While on a hike or visiting nature, some people discard trash and other litter on the trail. It is always advisable to clean trash from nature to keep the area beautiful and help wildlife.
- Keep a distance from wildlife – When with wildlife, it is important never to interfere with their space. It’s always better to admire wildlife from afar.
- Never feed wildlife – Feeding wildlife is never a good idea. Not only does it cause these wild animals to get used to human contact, they start to associate people with food. Not only is this dangerous to the wildlife, this is dangerous to future adventurers in the area.
- Walk on designated trails and avoid trampling flora or distressing fauna – Preserving wildlife for future generations is important. When hiking, always stick to the trail to avoid damaging the wild ecosystem.
- Never take “souvenirs” from the wild – Avoid taking plants, animals or rocks from the natural environment. Think about what would happen if everybody did the same.
- Avoid buying souvenirs made from endangered plants or animals – Many places offer souvenirs made from locally grown products. However, sometimes these products are made from endangered plants or animal products¹. It is our job as responsible consumers to ensure that resources were not exploited for monetary gain.
- Buy local products – This not only helps support local people, it limits transportation of goods to an area which reduces the carbon footprint of a product.
- Support local green organizations – If you see that there is a local green organization, support it! If other businesses see that people value green consumerism, they will be more likely to follow.
- Take reusable bags with you to avoid using plastic – Everyone knows that plastic is bad for the environment. Even when traveling it is important to bring reusable bags to avoid using plastic.
- Avoid attractions or tours that involve wild animals – Many tours and tourist attractions take advantage and exploit wild animals such as animal shows, elephant rides or pictures with wild lions or tigers. However, purchasing these products entices the continuation of this practice¹.
- Respect local language, customs and traditions when traveling – Finally, it is always important to remember that you are in a new area and local culture could be different than you’re used to. It is advised to always research the area and learn about the norms in that area to avoid offending anyone and be a responsible traveler.