Simple Eco-Friendly Travel Tips

Traveling can be a time to let loose and relax, but you shouldn’t forget to stay environmentally friendly. Many people can forget to keep up with tasks like recycling or conserving energy when they’re at a hotel because it’s not their own home. Whether you’re traveling near or far, these are the tips you need to go green on the go.

On the road 


This seems self-explanatory, but if you’re road-tripping, bring your group in as few cars as possible. To do this, you can cut down luggage to essentials so the back seats are available. By doing so, you are cutting down on potential carbon emissions from a second or third car.  

Pack snacks in reusable containers 

What’s a road trip without a few snacks? You can still munch on your favorites, but try to buy a few snacks in bulk, like nuts and fruit, and pack them in reusable containers. This way, you also have containers for snacks and leftovers during the trip.

Take a fuel-efficient vehicle

If someone in your group has a more fuel-efficient vehicle with good gas mileage, plan to take their car. Not only will you save on gas money during your trip, you will reduce the emissions from the vehicle during your trip, too.

Bring a car recycling bin  

Not every stop along the way will have a recycling bin, and if you’re using cans or other recyclable snack and drink containers in the car, you can keep them contained and put them away until you find a stop with a recycling bin.

In the air 

Pack lightly

Every ounce can count when a plane is carrying passengers and their belongings. The lighter you pack, the less fuel the plane needs to use. Try to limit yourself to a carry-on bag and personal item, like a backpack—you’ll also reap the financial benefits of foregoing checked baggage.

Book nonstop when possible 

The carbon emissions from a plane are at their worst during take-off and landing because the plane uses a lot of fuel to get into the air and a lot of brake fluid to stop. So try to book a nonstop flight that eliminates the need to land and take off at another airport.

Pass up on beverages and snacks

Try not to take the offer for a beverage or snack from a flight attendant. Most times, planes do not recycle any single-use plastic cups or single-serve snack wrappers. If you find that you need a little something, ask for the can or bottle directly, and skip the offered cup. Save the can and any wrappers to dispose of correctly when you deplane.

Go by train instead 

Forego the airfare for an oftentimes cheaper, quicker form of transportation—a train. Trains have about half the carbon emissions that planes do.  Plus, train rides can be scenic, comfortable, and easier to board and switch between stops. 

At the hotel or dwelling

Skip room service when you can

Leave the “do not disturb” sign on your hotel room door for the duration of your stay (if possible). By doing so, you can help reduce the use of chemical cleansing agents, electricity used in vacuuming, and water usage for cleaning linens. Instead, pack a mixture of environmentally friendly cleaners for spills and dirt. Check out these DIY cleaners.

Take travel size bottles back home 

Those small, convenient shampoo bottles from a hotel aren’t so convenient lying in a landfill. You can take these travel-sized items home to reuse and refill for your future travels. Another useful place for these bottles is for a purse-sized hand sanitizer or lotion so that you don’t have to purchase any more plastic travel-sized containers for your to-go personal care items.

Turn down the heat or AC 

Depending on your destination, the climate can be more extreme than you’re accustomed to. Try to keep the heating and cooling settings to a reasonable level, and pack either extra blankets or a personal battery-operated (be sure to recharge your batteries) fan that requires no electricity.

Bring a portable washer and air-dry clothing

A lengthier stay can sometimes require doing a bit of laundry. Since you likely don’t have large loads of laundry, you should either combine your laundry load with other friends’ and family member’s loads, or, you can invest in a small, manual portable washer. It only takes a few cups of water, some detergent, and foot power to make it spin and clean your clothes efficiently. Hang your clothes to dry after—just don’t forget to pack something to hang them on so that your clothes can dry nicely.

Out and about on the town

Use reusable shopping bags and water bottles

Single-use plastic shopping bags and plastic water bottles are among the biggest offenders for ocean and landfill pollution. While you’re shopping or doing any activities, remember to bring a backpack or purse equipped with reusable shopping bags for your souvenirs and a water bottle you can refill. Some places charge extra for single-use plastic bags so you can even save yourself some money!

Bring a bike or take a walk 

Choose a location where you can cut down carbon emissions by walking or biking around as your primary means of transportation. If biking or walking isn’t possible, use public transit if available. Avoid taking tours in non-efficient vehicles like Jeeps, jet skis, and ATVs. Places like beaches and cities often have buses running for tourists with stops at popular attractions, so you can still tour exciting sights.

Respect wildlife 

Every ecosystem is delicate, so don’t feed or touch any wildlife you encounter. Keep nature as it should be—natural. Human food is not always safe for wildlife, and it teaches animals to approach tourists, which can be dangerous for both parties involved. Plus, you can be fined in most places if authorities see you approaching any wildlife, especially an endangered species. Take pictures from a safe distance, and only leave behind your footprints!

Shop local produce and meat 

It’s always nice to take time to support the local economy you’re visiting, and one way you can do that is by buying your produce and meat from farm stands. Most local, small business farmers tend to be more environmentally friendly because they have little to no transport emissions. Plus, you can talk to them directly and ask about their pesticide use and other aspects important to you.

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