25 Top Tips For Eco-Friendly And Sustainable Travel

“Eco tourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people. According to the International Ecotourism Society, the definition of ecotourism is tourism that follows these principles: minimise impact, build environmental and cultural awareness and respect”.

“Sustainable travel means finding a way that tourism can be maintained long-term without harming natural and cultural environments. Sustainable travel should minimise the negative impacts of tourism and ideally be beneficial to the area in which it takes place”

What are the benefits of Eco & Sustainable Travel? 

Travel and tourism is one of the largest industries in the world and we felt that travellers need to be aware of eco and sustainable travel, to protect the planet we live on as well as the places we visit. There are may aspects of travel and tourism that harm the environment and countries we visit. We put together this post with 25 top tips for eco-friendly and sustainable travel. We felt by raising awareness and sharing some easy tips for you to take note of during your travels, it will help make a difference and ensure a positive impact to the places you visit.

25 Top Tips For Eco-Friendly And Sustainable Travel

Did You Know?

  • The garbage dumped in the ocean every year is roughly around 14 billion pounds.
  • Plastic is the major constituent 8.3 BILLION Metric Tons of plastic has been produced since plastic was introduced in the 1950s. The amount of plastic produced in a year is roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity.
  • Nearly TWO MILLION single-use plastic bags are distributed worldwide every minute.
  • Plastic waste is one of many types of wastes that take too long to decompose. Normally, plastic items can take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills. But plastic bags we use in our everyday life take 10-1000 years to decompose, while plastic bottles can take 450 years or more.

 

We collaborated on this post with a few travel bloggers to come up with some ways you can travel in a more eco friendly and sustainable way.

Here are 25 Top Tips For Eco-Friendly And Sustainable Travel.

 

 

Re-Usable Waste Bags 

One of the problems with Indian cities and tourist destinations is the lack of dustbins placed. We always carry a reusable waste-bag in our car so that we can put all the garbage in it when we travel, until we spot a dustbin. This is zero effort from our side but goes a long way to keep the place clean.

Photography 

Do not use flash during wildlife photography, it scares the animals. As it is we are intruders going into the little home we have left for them, the least we can do is let them be at peace. We take photos, come home and edit them – it is as simple as that.

 

Backpacknxplore

Get on your BIKE

We are all about sharing the best places in the world to cycle. Travelling by bicycle is extremely environmentally friendly but it’s also a brilliant way to really get to know a destination.  You see things you’d simply never see if you were in a car, bus or train: children playing outside, people chatting, birds singing. You are closer to people so it’s far easier to get a taste of what everyday life is like for locals. Travelling by bicycle not only massively reduces your carbon footprint but is good for you and a huge amount of fun. Give it a go!

Buy a Re-Usuable STRAW
One of my favourite ways to cut back on plastic waste while traveling is via LifeStraw! 
LifeStraw is a fab company that has helped create a solution for water sanitation AND plastic waste! I’m sure you have seen videos on Facebook of waves of plastic washing up on beaches wreaking havoc. Plastic damages sea life and leaves a mark on the Earth’s atmosphere. LifeStraw allows responsible travellers to drink water without the fear of acquiring a waterborne disease.
Sounds like a win win!
Laura Niese – Travel To The Beat
 

 Hold your litter
We’re all aware of the massive plastic pollution affecting once pristine beaches, islands and the marine ecosystem and we’ve seen videos of these on social media. These plastics are not biodegradable but do degrade via sunlight and water into micro-plastics that end up in marine life and on our plates.
To do our small part in combatting plastic waste, my tip is to take the following items on travels: a reusable cloth or jute bag, non-plastic water bottle, bamboo travel utensils and bamboo or glass straws. They’re all lightweight and weigh no more than hygiene products or make-up. The straws can go in the water bottle & the bag lays flat or rolled.

Take the train, or bus, boat or your own two feet
We’ve found time and again on our travels that the best travel stories come not from 40,000ft up in the air, but from travelling shoulder-to-shoulder with locals, and at a slower pace. We’ve shared meals with strangers, made plenty of new friends, and got to sit back and enjoy the view of the passing landscape. Using existing public transportation infrastructure and avoiding flying is one of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprint while travelling. Did you know: flying accounts for 40% of the total carbon emissions generated by the global tourism sector? (Source: UNWTO).

Ditch Mineral Water Bottles
Talking of preserving the nature, plastic seems a common enemy and why not. The harm it has done to the environment & might even do more for the future generations if we don’t stop using plastic. When you’re traveling, I would urge you to ditch mineral water bottles and rather carry your own. If you’re going on a road trip, plan your pit stops & carry a water jug so that you don’t have to buy a bottle. When boarding a flight, you know don’t have to throw your bottle, you just have to empty it.
Drink it up and keep the bottle with you, it’ll help you uphold your water needs in the flight too. Exploring a city & feeling thirsty? No need to buy a water bottle, keep an empty bottle with you and request any cafe to fill it up, easy isn’t it? So, do your bit, help preserve the mother earth by ditching the mineral water.
 

GO Paperless 
“Here’s an eco travel tip I completely stand by in everyday life, but especially when travelling” 
Go completely paperless! Thanks to technology, it’s no longer necessary to print all your documents before you travel. Sign up for mobile tickets and boarding passes whenever possible. When your hotel wants to print your receipt, kindly ask them to email it to you. Take pictures of pamphlets or brochures instead of taking them from the information desk. Don’t bring paper maps. They’ll just end up getting wet or blowing away, and lead to frustration (have you ever tried refolding a paper map into its original form?). Most of the time there are better, interactive maps online or on a mobile app. Not only does this reduce waste and harmful inks in the environment, it’s actually more convenient to have everything in one place, and your backpack will be a lot lighter!

Teach and Educate  Children / Family / Friends / Work Colleauges 
Regardless where you travel or go on a trip to, these tips are still relevant. Teaching and educating people about the environment and some of the points raised in this article can also help save our  planet and the places we visit.

A personal example where I put this into practice was when I visited India. I witnessed my driver eating from a disposable plate and then throwing it on the beach along with his plastic water bottle. I was furious, however could not communicate why this was so bad to him, so I signalled to him to pick it up which he did and told him off in a polite way!! He had no clue what I was saying but understood what he had just done was wrong. 

When I got home, I asked someone who speaks the local language to tell him about litter and how it harms the environment and so on. He apologised and stated he did not know or even think about it in that way.

Many countries have a duty to educate people which seems to be lacking in some places, also the lack of waste bins and places to dispose of litter in some countries are non-existent, so in essence education will provide people with the knowledge to take their litter with them. Education also goes far when we teach children from a young age as this will teach them good habits and awareness as they grow up about these important issues.

Buy carbon offset

This is available when booking most flights, the money goes towards helping and protecting the environment from the impact of your travels. 

Support Non Profits with a Travel Perspective

There are many organisations that help travellers make an impact to places they are visiting, via these organisations, you can find out before you travel what you can do to help the local area / community. Usually it’s packing a few items to donate, such as clothing, shoes, pencils, etc. I usually take lots of colouring books, picture books and some art supplies to give local children I see in local villages. In the past I have also taken some light badminton rackets and shuttle’s , frisbee’s, and deflated footballs to give away. 

Enjoy places close to home

Exploring what’s in you own country or local to you can reduce your carbon footprint, as a lot of the time you can usually get there without flying. Also exploring whats local to you can be a surprise when you find some hidden gems.

Let us know in the comments below if you have found any great places near to where you live. 

Organic and Sustainable

The travelling or when in your own home town, looks for places that sell organic produce or restaurants that cook with locally grown produce. Most of these type of businesses support fair trade and sustainable farming which is positive for the environment. Also doing things like going Vegan or Vegetarian for the day can help make a positive change. 

Explore Markets 

Markets are a great place to buy local produce and locally made items such as crafts, this is beneficial as it helps the locals with their small businesses and the economy and also learn about their culture from the things they are selling. The travelling if I have booked self catering accommodation, I enjoy buying local ingredients and cooking. In Bali, India, Seychelles, Mexico, Thailand,  Sri Lanka – I have also found some amazing crafts to buy. 

 

Accommodation

When staying in various types of accommodation, there are a few things you can do.  

-Turn off electrics you are not using – fans, air conditioners, chargers, lights televisions etc…

-Don’t put your towels for washing if they are not dirty. 

-Look for places to stay that participate in eco friendly practices such as (re-cycling items, growing their own produce, using solar power) etc .

-Use re-usable water bottles 

-Give suggestions to hotel’s when checking out for any ideas on feedback forms. 

-Give back maps and leaflets when you have finished with them. 

-Take showers instead of baths.

Research your destination 

If you are like me I love researching trips and holidays and places I am going to visit. When you do this, you are armed with knowledge and information, to make better choices in most situations, although usually when I actually visit the place I end up finding a load of other interesting things to do and see usually from the locals that live there.

 

However some trip preparation before-hand goes a long way. 

This helps the eco system and sustainable travel – in the following ways: 

-You can find out local / off the beaten track places to visit 

-You can find out about which tours / sight seeing activities are eco friendly 

-You can pick eco friendly accommodation

-You get to find out where the local places are to eat which helps the locals and their businesses 

-You will usually find out what ways you can help the area – in terms of preserving it’s eco system and if there are any programs you can join to help. Recently in Sri Lanka – my hotel organised beach clean ups every evening, this was a productive activity and  ithelps makes a difference. 

Give Back

Do something positive during your trip and donate some time to projects – such as conservation / voluntary work or even a small financial donation to a local cause. Look up travel organisations that lead on this, in places that you visit and see if you can help / contribute in way. Many non-profits and charities are always grateful to receive some help. 

Some of the one’s I have participated in are: 

Women’s Project Bali – Buying handmade dolls to help local women earn an income. 

Sri Lanka – Elephants – assisting the vet with wounded or sick elephants at a sanctuary. 

India – Donated funds / books to a school 

India – Gave sports equipments to a small school 

Thailand – Helped with at the stray dog project 

Sri-Lanka – Participated in a beach clean up 

Leave No Trace

When visiting places LEAVE NO TRACE, to prevent harming the environments you visit  this means, no littler, no mess, and don’t change or disrupt nature or natural environment in any way.

Since 1994, Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics, a non-profit organization also known as Leave No Trace, exists to educate people about their recreational impact on nature as well as the principles of Leave No Trace to prevent and minimize such impacts. Check it out online. 

 

Travel Planning 

Try and visit some of the popular places off peak or off season. Also look for unique experiences and things to do and seen that are not as well known, this allows the popular places to get some respite. Recently you may have seen that two places, one island in Philippines and one in Thailand Maya Bay were closed to tourists to help the eco system recover from mass tourism. 

Transport

When travelling – see if you can travel overland rather than taking flights, a few perks are you get to discover and see places along the way and it saves your carbon footprint. 

See if you can share taxi’s to and from places with others. Also boats, tuk tug’s etc. 

Try hiring a bicycle to explore your local surroundings or walk. 

If hiring a car see of you can hire a hybrid or electric car. 

Try and book direct flights where possible, as taking off and landing places cause the most damage to the environment. 

Shopping 

Don’t buy anything made from endangered plants/animals such as ivory etc , unsustainable woods, or ancient artefacts and you are more than likely to get stopped at the airport.

Animals 

Don’t participate in activities, that exploit animals – in zoo’s, parks, beaches, etc. Most of these animals are abused and tamed into doing tricks and other acts.

Suncream / Other Products 

Suncream and tanning locations are known to harm the eco system in the sea. Try to buy items that are eco-friendly and research online. Use fish-safe and biodegradable sunscreen and products  while snorkelling to protect marine life especially coral reefs. Use / buy natural biodegradable products they don’t have the harmful toxins for the environment and your body. 

Chargers

Research and look into using  solar power chargers – this is a great way to save natural resources.

Do not disturb sign 

Putting DO NOT DISTUB on your door o some days, this will let your cleaner know, your room does not need cleaning, which saves electricity, resources, stops unnecessary chemical use and supplies.

Hope you enjoyed reading our post on 25 Top Tips For Eco-Friendly And Sustainable Travel what are some of your tips on Eco and Sustainable Travel? Share them below please.

 

Showing 2 comments
  • Kemi
    Reply

    Very nice! These are all wonderful tips we should be following (and most do) even when not travelling. The plastic pollution is horrible and literally out of hand but it’s heartening to see people and government action in reversing this plague.

  • Jack Lim
    Reply

    Sustainable tourism has become the main key to preserve our environment as we humans share this planet with our living species. It is hard to see modern people take responsibility toward nature due to lack of education and greed, but should be taught to new and younger generations about the importance for the sake of the future

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