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Pack for the Planet: 5 Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Tips for Travel

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Everybody loves to travel. Statistics even suggest that around 40 million individuals traveled overseas every year pre-pandemic. After all, visiting other countries is one of the most enjoyable ways to explore new environments, meet different people, and experience various cultures. Let’s explore some sustainable and eco-friendly tips for travel!

With the country’s COVID restrictions gradually loosening, Americans might soon be able to fly overseas again. Before you plan your next trip, however, reconsider the way you travel. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that nature thrives when humans stay dormant. Physical distancing guidelines reduced our carbon footprints.

Should you avoid traveling altogether? Of course, not! Traveling isn’t necessarily harmful, but irresponsibly using non-renewable resources negatively affects the environment. Keep reading for eco-friendly travel tips. The five easy, actionable best practices listed below should give you a good starting point on how to travel more responsibly:

sustainable and eco-friendly tips for travel

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Tips for Travel

1. Use Less Single-Use Products

People tend to abuse single-use products when traveling. Most travelers find themselves wasting piles of tissues, napkins, disposable utensils, razors, and beauty products on a single trip.

Why do travelers love single-use products? Primarily because they are convenient. People would rather waste disposable, non-renewable resources than carry a few reusable bottles and utensils. This practice has to stop.

To reduce the amount of trash you leave behind when traveling, eliminate single-use products. You don’t have to make drastic changes right from the get-go. Instead, start with small yet significant changes like:

  • Carrying around a reusable, affordable water bottle from the Simple Modern Store instead of buying bottled water
  • Replacing disposable cotton pads with LastObject’s washable cotton rounds
  • Packing cute, compact reusable food containers and utensils from Everusely Store
  • Bringing multiple reusable, practical grocery bags from WHITEWRAP
  • Using HT-INTL reusable silicone straws in place of disposable ones

2. Ride Fewer Fuel-Burning Vehicles

Stop renting private vehicles! Not only do these burn non-renewable fossil fuel, but driving in a car limits your journey to main roads and highways. Trust us—the only way to truly experience the beauty of any destination is to go on foot. You can’t bring a car to hiking trails, parks, and other secluded locations.

Pro Tip: For a more enjoyable experience, sign up for walking or biking tours. Touring with a trusted local will allow you to explore hidden gems that most tourists don’t often visit.

3. Purchase Economy-Class Flights

The aviation industry accounts for nearly 3% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, which explains why most sustainable travelers advise against flying. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many energy-efficient ways to travel overseas. Cruise ships, the most widespread alternative to commercial flights, even produce four times more carbon emissions.

If you want to visit another country without abusing non-renewable resources, take economy-class flights. Travelers flying economy leave smaller carbon footprints because these flights serve two to three times more passengers than business class.

Furthermore, economy-class does not have the extra amenities that business-class has, such as spas, bars, and lounges. Opt-out of these facilities. Use the money you save on other more sustainable, enjoyable activities.

4. Do Not Abuse the Hotel’s Utilities

Guests tend to abuse hotel utilities since these establishments charge fixed rates. While leaving the HVAC running 24/7 might not incur additional charges on your bills, these have a severe impact on the environment. Note that the average HVAC burns $0.6 to $0.80 worth of energy per hour.

As a general rule, treat the hotel like your home and use the available resources frugally. Avoid taking excessively long baths, turn the television off before sleeping, switch the lights off in unused rooms, and, of course, turn the HVAC off when you leave the room.

Also, try not to abuse the hotel’s towels. Using fresh bedding, towels, and robes every day feels comfortable, but keep in mind that the hotel uses several laundry products to clean these items. 

5. Travel in Smaller Groups

You might already know this, but large groups leave a more significant environmental impact when traveling. This tip especially applies to those visiting rural destinations. For example, let’s say you’re going on a camping trip. A large group with several adults would likely trample the ground, exhaust too many natural resources, and disturb nearby animals.

If you’re traveling solo, consult your operator beforehand about the size of your tour group. Ideally, only participate in touring activities that involve no more than 8 to 10 people. Large tour groups of random strangers often leave behind a lot of waste—especially if nobody pays attention to traveling sustainably.

Traveling Sustainably and Responsibly

Feel free to follow other eco-friendly travel tips. The strategies and techniques mentioned above are just some of the many ways to travel responsibly. Overall, keep in mind that becoming an eco-friendly traveler involves making conscious, sustainable decisions. Rely less on non-renewable resources.

To make your eco-friendly trips more enjoyable, travel with buddies who share the same goals. Living sustainably for the first time is challenging. Most newbies find themselves falling back into old habits. Fortunately, having loved ones guide you through the trip would make the transition more pleasant and hassle-free.