Exploring the world is one of life’s greatest pleasures; it’s an incredible opportunity to see different cultures, natural spectacles, and extraordinary landscapes. But as conscious individuals, how can we travel the world without putting extra pressure on the environment? We’ve put together some of our favorite sustainable travel tips, whether it’s choosing environmentally-friendly tours and transport or traveling plastic-free. Join us on our eco-friendly journey with our complete sustainable travel guide!
Sustainable Travel Methods
Rule 101 of sustainable travel: reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible! That means avoiding flights whenever you can and opting for trains, buses, ferries, and car shares instead. Not only is this far more beneficial for the planet (a return flight from London to San Francisco produces double the emissions of a family car in a whole year!), but it’s also a slower and more conscious way of traveling. You’ll get to make the journey a more significant part of your vacation, see beautiful landscapes, and even meet wonderful people.
HANAN MOSER sustainable travel tip: We’ve always wanted to travel on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, one of the world’s most extraordinary train journeys. The journey begins in Venice, moving through the Italian Dolomites and the Swiss Alps to London. What method of travel would you choose?
Getting Around Your Destination
Once you’re in your destination, travel sustainably by getting around on foot or by bike. There are plenty of sustainable tours available these days that prioritize the planet. For example, electric bike tours are the perfect way to learn about your destination, help the earth, and support the local economy!
If traveling around a country, try to take public transport or choose to rent an electric car. Car sharing has also become a popular option in many countries (for example, Bla Bla Car in Spain).
How to be more environmentally friendly (everyday guide)
Choose a Sustainable Destination
Part of sustainable tourism is picking a destination that not only cares about protecting its nature but actively works towards preserving it. Countries like Costa Rica and the Philippines have eco-friendly laws in place. For example, in Costa Rica, building hotels is prohibited within a certain distance of the beach to protect marine life. Additionally, in Palau (near the Philippines), chemical sunscreen has been banned since 2020 to protect coral and sea life. Other countries like Sweden and Estonia have also ranked highly for being some of the most eco-conscious destinations in the world (see a complete list of destinations here). Additionally, try not to choose destinations known for overcrowding or consider traveling out of season to avoid more pressure on the environment.
HANAN MOSER sustainable travel tip: Stay local! There is so much beauty right on our doorstep that we often forget. Plus, traveling somewhere close to home is a far more sustainable way to travel.
Research Sustainable Tours and Hotels
Research is everything when it comes to sustainable travel. Always look for sustainable tours and avoid animal tourism (unless you know they are aiding/protecting the animals). There are plenty of great options out there, whether it’s a desert tour in an electric dune buggy or a sustainable coffee farm tour.
The same goes when you’re booking your hotel; research your accommodation thoroughly, choosing to stay at places that put sustainability at the forefront of their ethos and policies. Hotels with a conscious attitude will typically have gone to great efforts to support the planet, eliminating plastic from rooms (no tiny shampoo bottles here, please!), choosing not to wash towels every day, or going for an ‘a la carte’ menu over a breakfast buffet to reduce food wastage.
‘Leave No Trace’ (Sustainable Travel Tip!)
As we explore, we tread on the land both figuratively and literally. Because of this, the very least we can do is leave a place better than we found it. We can do this by choosing to pick up litter (not just our own), respect local wildlife, and not touch flora or fauna.
Make sure also to observe signs that read ‘no entry’ or prohibit you from leaving a path (the simple act of leaving the trail can cause damage to land and habitats for animals).
Learn more by visiting the Leave No Trace campaign, a sustainable tourism initiative.
Pack sustainably by trying to use what you already have rather than buying new items for your vacation. When you do invest in new items, choose ones made from eco-friendly materials. For example, you could pair a swimsuit made from recycled fishing nets with our ethical fine jewelry. Additionally, decide to pack items that reduce single-use plastic and can help protect the environment in your destination.
See our capsule wardrobe essentials
Sustainable Travel Packing List:
- Reef-safe sunscreen. Sunscreen contains harmful chemicals that are bad for marine life and can result in coral bleaching.
- Reusable water bottles and cutlery, so you don’t have to buy single-use plastic bottles or use airline plastic cutlery or cups.
- Filtering straw. If you’re traveling to a destination where the water is unsafe to drink, bring a filtering straw so you can continue to use your reusable water bottle.
- Reusable shopping bag. Bring your own shopping bag for your travels, so you don’t have to take a plastic bag to the supermarkets.
- Refill jars. If you’re traveling for a while, consider bringing your own refill jars or Tupperware that you can take to the supermarkets to carry dried fruit, veg, seeds, nuts, rice, or pasta.
- Shampoo and deodorant bars. These bars come in a cardboard box or reusable tin, preventing single-use plastic. They’re also great for carry-on luggage as they don’t count as a liquid.
- Menstrual cup. Choose to pack a menstrual cup, a reusable alternative to standard sanitary products, which take years to decompose.
- Safety Razor. 2 billion disposable razors end up in landfills every year. Instead, buy a safety razor you can reuse.
- Washable makeup wipes. Remove your makeup with toner and eco-friendly makeup cloths. Once you’re done, you can wash them and use them again.
- Quick-dry towel (microfiber). Handwash these quick-dry materials and save the hotel from having to wash your towels (preventing them from using precious energy and water resources).
Knowing that you have supported your destination in preserving and protecting planet earth is a beautiful feeling. As conscious travelers, we must take steps to minimize damage and respect the abundance of nature at our fingertips. Simply swapping out your single-use plastic for a reusable water bottle or choosing to take a train instead of flying can make a huge difference. If each of us comes away today implementing one of the tips above, we can move towards a better future for our planet and future generations.