Travel Sustainably: 5 Ways to be a Sustainable Tourist (6/21/2023)

Jun 21, 2023 Annie Cao

Traveling is a great way to get out of your comfort zone, see new places, and create long-lasting memories. But the effects of tourism in many parts of the world have impacted the environment, making it vital to adopt better travel practices and protect our planet.

Here are 5 ways to be a more sustainable tourist:


image via Billabong blog


Packing Sustainably

No matter what kind of trip you’re taking, start off by making a list of what you need to bring. If you have everything you need, you won’t create extra waste from buying additional items.

Here’s a list of sustainable packing alternatives:

  • Plastic water bottles → reusable water bottles: Cut down on plastic waste by bringing your own bottle. Just make sure it’s empty when going through TSA!
  • Travel-size toiletries → reusable containers: Using reusable containers will help you travel lighter and stay organized. Try repurposing travel-size containers you already have to hold your toiletries. You can also consider low-waste products such as shampoo and conditioner bars, paper soap, and toothpaste tablets.
  • Plastic bags → tote bags: A reusable tote bag is sturdier and easy to pack. Bonus points if it’s made out of sustainable materials!
  • Chemical sunscreen → reef-safe sunscreen: Reef-safe sunscreens are an eco-friendly choice that will protect you from harmful UV rays while protecting the ocean from harmful chemicals.
  • Plastic cutlery → reusable cutlery: Eating take-out creates a lot of waste, but reusable cutlery, food containers, and snack bags are more sustainable alternatives.


image via popsci.com

Travel Sustainably

There are a few things you can do when you decide to go on a trip:

  • Save flying for longer trips. If the destination is far away, then flying is probably your only choice. But if your trip is closer, opt for taking the train or bus. Trains emit the lowest amount of greenhouse gases and it’ll give you a chance to experience slow travel.
  • Prioritize carpooling. If you’re in a group, try carpooling with a hybrid or electric car. If you’re traveling alone, test out carpoolworld.com or other similar services that allow you to carpool with people that are going in the same direction. And if you’re using rideshare, there are now carpool options such as Uber Pool and Lyft Shared Rides.
  • Choose local transport to get around. When you’re at your destination, opt to walk, bike, or take the train or bus to explore the city.


Nayara Springs Hotel in Costa Rica; image via hotelscombined.com


Picking Sustainable Accommodations

Nowadays, there are hotels and other accommodations that claim to be green. Make sure to do your research to check that they’re doing their part to be sustainable. For example, hotels in Kenya, Zambia, and Costa Rica are supporting zero-plastic usage, using renewable energy sources, or planting trees to support the habitat around them.



Shopping Sustainably

If you’re looking to bring home some souvenirs, avoid the touristy gift shops. Instead, buy from local businesses and skip the gift wrapping. And don’t forget to bring along your reusable bags to carry your new items!


image via foodprint.org


Dining Out Sustainably

Similar to shopping, it’s best to eat at local restaurants to support small businesses. Plus, bringing reusable cutlery and containers when possible will reduce plastic waste when eating out.


And lastly, if you decide to share your travels on social media, don’t be afraid to spread the word about local businesses and sustainable travel options you discovered on your trip! Even influencing one person will help make a difference.

Let us know in the comments how you travel sustainably and share this article to spread the word!


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