There’s no better time to help out the environment than right now. Sustainable travel cuts down on emissions and makes it so we can all keep our planet feeling great while we do too.
If you’ve never looked into more eco-friendly travel options before, it can be a bit overwhelming. There’s a lot of information out there! Because the little things really do help to make a difference. One person making a little change has a sort of domino effect. We’re already seeing this on our slow travels, aren’t you? So, if you want to travel more sustainably, read on!
All of us know that travelling sustainably is more important than ever. You’re not alone in that feeling! Booking.com found that 83% of global travelers (that’s us!) think that sustainable travel is vital.
As sustainability is a big part of slow travel and what we stand for here at Live the World, we want to make it easier for you to incorporate this into your trip, so we’ve put together the top 21 tips to help you plan your next trip sustainably.
1. Use public transport when you can
Becoming an environmentally friendly traveler isn't easy when we're all bombarded with Instagram posts of far-off places and bucket lists. We dream of flying over the open seas and climbing to the top of the mountains.
But rising to those heights has a cost that's bigger than your bank account. Sadly, travel is a big chunk of everyone's carbon footprint. Cutting that down is one big step you can make.
That's why our first tip is to use public transport as much as you can. We're not saying everyone should do a Greta Thunberg and take a boat to your next destination, but using local services like the buses and trams goes a long way.
2. Look closer to home
Before you book your next flight across the globe, just take a sec to look closer to home. There's even hidden gems on your doorstep. What places near you have you not discovered yet?
Try out camping instead once in a while. OK, we'll miss the free shampoos and soaps, but we can probably live without the rest. Camp out in the great outdoors with friends for an unforgettable summer field trip. Or bring the family out for a budget holiday! Europe has plenty of budget-friendly camping sights and luxury glamping spots too.
Whatever camping option you choose, rest easy in your hammocks and sleeping bags knowing that you’re reducing your impact on the environment. Just make sure to clean up as you go!
4. Reduce, reuse, recycle
It’s overused, but it’s true. This applies to everyday life for sustainability, not just travel. While you’re out and about, there’s only so much you can do. But you can plan ahead by bringing your own reusable water bottle and lunch box - this all saves you money in the long run too!
And, sure, while it might seem obvious, avoiding buying what you don’t need goes a long way too. If you do need to buy something, like a new suitcase, try looking for one second hand. Used stuff is still good quality without adding any extra waste. Plus, it usually saves cash too.
5. Carbon offsetting
If you’ve got a bit of extra cash to spare, you can offset your carbon emissions from travelling. This is a great way to reduce your impact if you have to fly to your next destination. 1 person travelling just 500 miles on a plane sends 245 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. And that’s in economy class!
A lot of companies have risen up to help offset carbon. By spending a few extra euros, you plough that money back into the environment. Sometimes it goes towards investing into green energy, supporting local projects, or planting trees. It depends on which company you choose to offset your carbon, so if there’s a cause you care about the most you can find something to suit you.
You can actually calculate the carbon emissions of the flight here.
6. Support the local community
Wander the city streets on the weekend and you’ll soon discover all the local markets. Spices fill the air as locals fill up their shopping bags with fresh food, handmade jewellery, and much more. When you’re surrounded by bargains and a unique community, it’s easy to remember why we love to travel. That joy of discovering something new never gets old!
Supporting the local community on your journey goes a long way to helping the environment too since it cuts down on the transport and carbon costs of moving stuff around. Shopaholics can be eco-friendly too! All you have to do is search for those local trading posts.
7. Stick around
Slow down there, buddy! Ever heard of slow travel before? We've all been tempted to skip to the next town, the next event... But being aware of where you're at right now is actually a lot more fulfilling. Slow travel is all about enjoying where you’re at. Immersing yourself in the local culture. It’s better for the planet and for you, because you’re not always rushing about to go to the next place. Let’s live in the moment! After these past couple of years (yup, COVID) we could all use a bit of that. Check out our map to start planning your next slow travel trip.
Pedal alongside Mother Nature on an eco-friendly trip. There’s not many ways of getting around more sustainably than cycling. Whether you’re bringing your own bike or renting locally, choosing to cycle over driving is one of the best things you can do for the environment! Bikes make much less noise than cars, basically no air pollution, and you save on fuel too. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Of course, cycling isn’t so easy everywhere you go. Some places are super up in the mountains. Some cities are far from cyclist friendly, in which case we recommend public transport instead.
9. Turn it off
This is the one tip we’re pretty sure everyone knows, but we’ll keep repeating ‘til that light bulb goes off. While most people know to turn off the lights at home to save on the electricity bill, you can do the same thing while travelling. Before you leave your hotel room or hostel, make sure everything is turned off.
10. Look for eco-friendly places to stay
From eco-friendly campsites to green hotels, the rise of sustainable accommodation is here and we’re living it. Or living in it. Anyways, when you’re looking at hotels check for official green certificates from legit organisations. We’ve seen hostels powered by wind turbines. Camping sites with solar panels. Cottages that offer free range organic food for your stay. There’s plenty of eco-friendly places to stay for every budget.
At the end of the day, we vote with our money. Putting your hard earned euros towards responsible tourism goes a long way to changing how we all travel.
11. Ride sharing
Less cars on the roads means less carbon emissions. How can we help make that happen when we’re travelling? Ride sharing is an affordable way to get around while still minimising your impact on the environment. You might even meet some new cool people on your travels too. Liftshare and BlaBlaCar are two of the biggest ride sharing apps around, but check ahead to see what’s on offer at your destination as no two places are the same.
12. Stick to the path
Don’t you mean go off the beaten track? Yes, kind of. Travelling to places less well known is a good thing. We’re being more literal here. When you’re out and about trekking, stay on the hiking trails. We've all seen the beautiful photos of travelers standing in the lush grass over the mountains, but at the end of the day if too many people do that sort of thing it wears down nature and rare plants off the paths. Tread lightly! It might seem like a little thing to do, but we swear Mother Nature will appreciate it.
13. International adapters
When you’re travelling abroad, one thing that you’ll always need is the right plug. Travels who go all over the world know the pain of keeping a bunch of adapters for the right moment. But why have a bunch of different ones, when you can just have one? Save yourself some time, money and plastic by getting an international adapter for your travels.
14. Rechargeable batteries
There’s nothing worse than your batteries running out while you’re in your hotel room. Then, you have to trudge all the way over to the nearest shop to get more. We’ve all been there, trust me, it sucks. Rechargeable batteries are easy, convenient, and save you money in the long run. Plus, this way, there’s no unnecessary waste floating about. The environment and your bank account will thank you for it.
You’ve heard it all before folks, but showers do save more water than running a bath. If your accommodation has a shower, use it instead of the bath. We know, we know, bubble baths are where it’s at. But having a shower instead of a bath is one of those easy little things you can do to reduce your water usage without much effort. And, yes, a cold or eco shower saves even more! Who even wants to soak in the bathtub after a day on the beach anyways? Cool down in the shower to help cool down the atmosphere.
16. Eat your veggies
Try out vegetarian and vegan meal options on your travels. Keep in mind in some places in the world, refusing food (meat or no) offered by the locals can come across as offensive! Still, if you can, choosing the non-meat option does reduce your impact on the environment. And, hey, if the veggie option is cheaper we’re certainly not complaining!
17. Avoid takeaways
Takeaways are an easy option to get food back to the hotel without hassle. Cooking after walking around the town for hours is the last thing you want to do, we know. But takeaways often come in tons of plastic. But there’s a couple of things you can do to help reduce your impact! Make sure to recycle what’s left, put leftovers in the fridge, and ask for no plastic cutlery. You can just use your own instead.
18. Return maps and leaflets
We hadn’t thought of it much before either, but every time you take a map or leaflet from a hotel or tourist office another one has to be put in its place. It always looks like they have so many! After you’ve picked up a map or leaflet, you can always return it to the office to help reduce the paper they use. This is one of those little things that might not sound like much, but if everyone did it there’d actually be a noticeable difference in the amount of waste in touristy cities.
19. Avoid littering
Another obvious tip, but a biggie! Some places just don’t have that many bins, sadly. Try to bring a little bag with you so you can recycle or bin your rubbish later on. You might not expect it, but littering really does have a big negative impact on the environment. All that waste has to go somewhere and usually it’s right into the ocean. 80% of trash in the ocean comes from what we do back on land, including plastic bottles and bags. If you can help to cut that down even just a little bit, you’re helping out the planet! Plus, locals won’t give you the side eye…
20. Avoid endangered animal products
Some cultures around the world sell certain products that sadly drive animals into the endangered category. From shark fins to elephant tusks to the less well-known but very damaging coral, it’s important to avoid these things when you can. On top of putting the animals at risk of being endangered (if they’re not already), these products also encourage wildlife crime and cause harm to the environment. If a local offers you something like this, try to refuse politely!
21. Spread the word!
One of the best things you can do to help support sustainable travel, is to actually get involved in the community. If you can have more people travelling sustainably, you’re not just affecting your own carbon footprint. You’re helping to reduce everyone else's too! Whether it’s bringing your friends on board by getting them a reusable water bottle as a gift or choosing an eco-hotel for the group trips, there’s something you can do to help.
Join our community of slow travellers to discover your next destination in Belgium, the Czech Republic, and more to come even soon. Get involved in the slow travel community and change the way we travel together.
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