Travelling is quite important for self-development and to enlarge our horizon. However, many people still travel in a quite eco-unfriendly manner. In this article, I present many simple ways how you can make your travels more eco-friendly in order to protect our planet.
Even before you start travelling, make sure to save energy while you are not at home. This means turning down your heating or air conditioning. Also make sure that all your lights and other electronic devices are turned off in order to save energy while you are away.
There are big differences regarding how different countries engage in the preservation of our natural systems. While some countries put great effort in the protection of their ecosystems, some countries seem not to care too much.
Therefore, it is on you to take a stand and to support countries which protect our environment. By doing so, countries who currently are not taking care of our environment will rethink their strategy if enough people avoid travelling to those countries.
Those countries are likely to also behave more eco-friendly in the future since they have a financial incentive to do so since tourism often is a significant source of income for those countries. Thus, whenever you chose a travel destination, make sure that the country complies with eco-friendly behavior.
While most of tourists prefer to travel in the on-season, you should rather avoid to do so. The reason is that the on-season is usually quite crowded and too many people may distract and harm the local flora and fauna. Instead, travel in the off season so you can enjoy nature and the local wildlife much more since it is far less crowded.
There is a huge variety of backpacks out there. However, only few companies offer backpacks made out of recycled materials.
By choosing one of those companies, you support an eco-friendly production behavior and you can also save our natural resources at the same time.
Thus, when it comes to buying decisions regarding backpacks, make sure to rely on companies that use recycled materials in the production process.
If you use a suitcase for your travels, make sure to buy one that is quite durable. Many people just decide for a cheap one in order to save money. When it comes to suitcases, this is often a big mistake since cheap suitcases will usually not last too long.
This means that you may have to buy a new one every few years. Not only will this cost money, but it will also lead to significant unnecessary waste production since the old broken suitcases have to be disposed into the garbage.
Instead of buying a cheap suitcase, try to spend more money and by a suitcase that will likely last for many years. You will save our natural resources, avoid unnecessary waste and also eventually save money in the long run by doing so.
You should also make sure to use light-weight equipment on your travels. Light weight not only saves fossil fuels while travelling by plane since more luggage items can be transported with one airplane, it also makes it much easier for you to travel around since you don’t have to carry too much weight on your shoulders.
In our nowadays world, there is actually no need to use paper-based guide anymore. In most regions, there is quite good internet and you can use navigation apps and other guides in order to find the best tourist spots. You can also save plenty of paper waste by using electronic media instead of paper-based guides.
Thus, make sure to avoid paper-based guides when you travel to a region where there is good internet connection. However, in quite remote areas where there is no internet connection, paper-based guides still have their purpose and you should use them in those areas.
While you are travelling, especially when you are in nature, use odorless clothing to avoid attracting or distracting wildlife. Moreover, antibacterial clothing can help to protect yourself against various bacteria. Using these kinds of clothing may help to make your travels even greener.
If you taking adventures in nighttime, solar lanterns may be a good tool for you to light up the dark, especially when you travel in remote areas where there is no other source of electricity around. You can reload your solar lantern at daytime and use the produced energy in nighttime. However, keep in mind that this only works when the sun is shining, not on rainy days!
It is such an easy measure to reduce the overall plastic waste. However, many people still don’t make use of it. We are talking about the use of reusable water bottles. Still, a high number of people use disposable plastic bottles to supply themselves with drinking water.
It is on you to take a stand against plastic pollution and use reusable water bottles instead. Not only will you improve your ecological footprint, you will likely also improve your health level since water out of glass or metal bottles is considered to be healthier compared to water out of plastic bottles by most scientists.
Conventional sunscreen often contains chemicals that can be harmful to our environment. This is especially true when it comes to snorkeling and diving activities. Chemicals that are contained in conventional sunscreens often hurt corals, which may even die off if the concentration of those chemicals becomes too high.
Thus, instead of using conventional sunscreen, consider to buy eco-friendly sunscreen in order to reduce the negative effect on corals and other aquatic life.
Solar chargers are a great way to supply yourself with electricity while you are travelling. The energy that can be produced by solar charges is often enough to power all your gadgets like smartphones, headphones or many other things.
However, as everything that is powered by solar energy, it only works when the sun is shining on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, solar chargers can be a good supplementary gadget to reduce the consumption of conventional energy and therefore to improve your environmental footprint.
When you travelling around, especially in remote areas where there is not plenty of access to drinking water, it could also make sense to take water purification systems with you in order to be able to filter water from lakes or rivers. This may protect you from becoming sick due to contaminated water.
The use of a portable laundry wash bag is a convenient and also quite eco-friendly way to wash your clothes. No washing machine is needed, which implies saving significant amounts of energy and also water.
You can wash your laundry directly in rivers with the help of those bags. However, make sure to only use detergents which are eco-friendly in order to protect our aquatic flora and fauna.
Insect repellent often contains many harmful chemicals, which can hurt our environment and which can also be harmful to our health. Thus, switching from conventional insect repellent may improve your ecological footprint and also your overall health level.
Soap nuts are a fully organic way to wash your clothes. They are also fully biodegradable, which makes them much better for our environment compared to the use of conventional washing powder. They are also quite easy to carry around since they do not need plenty of space and are also quite light.
Thus, soap nuts are a great eco-friendly alternative for washing your clothes, especially if you travel in remote areas where the use of conventional detergents in rivers could lead to serious environmental pollution.
Instead of using a single-use disposable razor, buy a reusable travel razor instead in order to reduce your overall waste production and also to save natural resources. In the long run, reusable travel razors will even save you money compared to razors for only a single use.
If you like reading books, you should consider using an electronic medium like a kindle instead of using a paper-based book. By doing so, you can save plenty of paper waste over time, which reduces your waste production and also reduces the deforestation issue.
Combining the use of a kindle with the use of a solar charger would be a great way to make your travels more eco-friendly, since your energy production for your kindle would be in an entirely renewable manner.
Instead of using laundry services in your hotel, you should rather wash your clothes by yourself.
Laundry services often wash the clothes of each customer separately, which can lead to an enormous waste of water if you only have a few items to wash but the washing machine still uses many liters of water.
Thus, especially if you only have a few clothes to wash, doing your laundry by hand would be much eco-friendlier compared to using a washing machine or a laundry service.
In general, you should try to avoid excessive washing of your clothes. There is really no need to wash your bedding or your towels every day. Thus, if you stay in a hotel, make sure that you indicate that you want to keep your used bedding and towels instead of making it available for washing to employees of the hotel. By doing so, you can save plenty of water and harmful detergents and can therefore make your travels much greener.
Since taking a bath needs much more water compared to taking shower, try to rely on showers instead of full baths while you are travelling and also at home. Especially if you live and travel in regions where there is significant water scarcity, using showers instead of baths is a simple but yet quite effective measure to save water. Moreover, refrain from showering every day to save even more water and do basic washing instead.
Detergents often contain harmful chemicals, which can lead to significant water pollution and several other issues. Thus, you should avoid the use of detergents whenever possible. At least make sure to reduce the use of detergents. Many people use excessive levels of detergents while they are travelling but also at home.
You would be surprised of how much detergents you could save by still achieving good cleaning results. Thus, a reduction in detergents can not only improve your eco-footprint, but may also save you significant amounts of money in the long run.
On your travels, try to eat in local restaurants or at local markets instead of using big food chains. By doing so, you financially support locals which often rely on tourism as their main source of income. You can also try many different local dishes and enjoy a true local experience while you can still eat in fast food chains when you are back at home.
While you are travelling, also choose your hotel or hostel in an eco-friendly fashion. This means that you should figure out how eco-friendly your accommodation really is. For instance, does your hotel use green energies? Do they save water? Do their employees get a fair wage? By figuring out those points, you can ensure to stay in accommodations which contribute to a sustainable development.
You should also take a look on how the employees of the hotel are treated. Do they seem to be happy or not? Are they treated like slaves or like a free human being? You should not support and stay in hotels where employees are treated poorly. Instead, stay in hotels which treat their employees in a fair manner!
While indirect flights are often cheaper, they also have a serious downside. The start and landing of an airplane imply the use of large amounts of fossil fuels. Moreover, the additional distance that has to be travelled when using flights with layovers further contributes to the consumption of unnecessary fuel.
Thus, even if flights with layovers are cheaper, they are usually much more harmful to our planet. Consider to book a direct flight instead, even if it is a little bit more expensive.
Some companies and airlines also take part in a carbon dioxide neutralizing program, which means that they make travel more sustainable by donating a certain small part of their revenue to organizations which plant trees or take other measure to fight global warming. Thus, buy booking from those companies, you can make your small contribution to fight global warming.
Domestic flights are a fast and easy way to get around. However, they are also quite environmentally-unfriendly since those kinds of flights imply the emission of large amounts of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. Especially when you are travelling with a group of persons, it is much more eco-friendly to use a car or even better a train instead of flying short distances.
If you use a rental car, you can improve your eco-footprint even further by relying on a car run by electric power or other alternative energy sources. You can ask your rental car company if they have eco-friendly cars instead of booking a conventional one.
Whenever possible, use public transport instead of cars. Especially in cities with good public transport infrastructure, there is really no need to drive short distance by car. Instead, use the metro or buses in order to get around in order to make your travels greener.
Both the use of heating as well as the use of air conditioning imply the use of large amounts of energy. In order to reduce energy consumption, try to reduce the intensity of heating and air con use. Most of the time, turning down air con may even improve your overall health level since your body will feel more natural and comfortable compared to states where there is an excessive use of air conditioning.
In many hotels, there is a do-not-disturb sign which you can put on your door to let the hotel staff know you don’t want to have room service this day or night. By doing so, you can save our natural resources since your sheets and towels will not be washed.
Most of the time, there will also be no need for washing these things, since they will stay clean for many days. Thus, using the do-not-disturb sign is an additional smart way to make sure to reduce resource consumption on your travels.
It doesn’t matter if you are travelling or staying at home, you should always make sure to reuse your old things instead of disposing them into the garbage. Moreover, if you do no longer want to use your old things anymore, give them away to family or friends. If no one wants to use your old stuff anymore, at least make sure to dispose it in an appropriate manner to make it suitable for recycling.
One of your travelling principles should also be to reduce waste whenever possible. The production of waste is a big global problem and many poor developing countries suffer a lot from this waste production. Therefore, make sure to avoid the production of waste while you are travelling but also when you are back home.
Also make sure that when you take a nature trip to stay on track, especially in areas where animal breed.
By doing so, you do not disturb those breeding animals. Moreover, leaving the track can sometimes also be quite dangerous, since you may fall off a cliff or may be a target to wild animals.
Thus, especially in areas where there are signs that you should stay on track, do not leave those tracks for your own safety and also to protect our ecosystems!
Wild animals are still able to hunt and find their food by themselves. However, if they are frequently fed by tourists, they will eventually lose their ability to hunt. In turn, these animals will turn from wild animals into domesticated ones, which is against nature. Thus, do not feed wild animals since you will not do nature a favor.
If you are travelling around, always make sure that you comply with the local laws. This is also true when it comes to environmental behavior. Check out local laws regarding the protection of animals so that you do not interfere with those laws and to avoid getting in trouble.
In order to protect our endangered species from extinction, you should never buy souvenirs made out of the skin or from other parts of endangered species. Instead, rely on souvenirs that do not involve the killing of animals for the sole purpose of souvenirs. For instance, there are many beautiful paintings that you can bring back home from many different countries and no animal had to die for it.
While some shells can look quite nice and you might be eager to collect them while snorkeling or diving, please refrain from doing so. If every tourist collected shells, there would no shells left in the water and at our beaches. Moreover, shells are often used by other animals to hide. Thus, avoid collecting or buying souvenirs made out of shells.
Instead of buying from big souvenir stores, try to buy from private manufacturers instead. By doing so, those private persons will get a much bigger share when you buy directly from them instead of buying from tourist stores. Thus, you can support the local population by buying directly from private persons and ensure their livelihood.
Whenever you take part in tourist activities that include activities with animals, make sure that those animals are treated with respect. Refrain from taking part in activities organized by companies which are known for treating animals quite poorly.
In order to make sure that locals get a fair share of the event price, book events directly with locals instead of booking those events with travel companies whenever possible. By doing so, you can contribute to ensuring the livelihood of locals and also reduce their poverty level.
Always make sure that you do not harm the local flora and fauna! Especially if you travel to quite remote parts of our planet, be aware on your actions and how they could affect animals and plants. If you are not sure, ask at the tourist information or inform yourself over the internet regarding which points you have to consider in order not to harm the local flora and fauna.
You should also be aware that different countries have quite different cultures and customs. Don’t expect that people in remote parts of the world share the same values with you.
Depending on your circumstances and the conditions you grow up with, every culture develops certain characteristics which you may not even like, but should respect nevertheless since it is an inherent part of each country!
A rather obvious but still quite important measure to make your travels greener is to simply avoid the pollution of our planet. Whenever you take certain actions, make sure that they are in line with eco-friendly travelling to improve your ecological footprint and to save our environment.
You should also try to engage with locals and share your opinions on the latest news topics. By doing so, you form a connection between you and the local population, which will enlarge your horizon on things. You may also find new friends among those locals. Therefore, don’t be shy! Just talk to locals. You will be surprised how friendly most of them will be.
In order to be able to engage in conversations with locals, it is crucial to learn the local language or at least a few words. By doing so, you can communicate much better with locals and they will also be more friendly to you since they know you are at least trying and willing to learn their language to a certain degree.
Another great way to make your travels greener is to join and work for a non-profit organization, especially if this organization aims to protect our planet. By doing so, you can actively make a positive impact while travelling and see the world.
Whenever you see that other travelers seem not to care about our environment and take actions that are actually quite harmful to our planet, take a stand and try to convince them about the importance of saving our environment, also while travelling. By doing so, you can multiply your positive impact for our environment.
There are several ways how you can make your travels more eco-friendly. Many of them are quite easy to implement, while others take a little bit more effort. However, it should be worth the effort to save our planet and to ensure a livable future for the next generation, shouldn’t it?!
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master's degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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