When you think about eco-friendly travel, your mind might wander off to extensive hikes or sleeping in a tent or cycling across the United States. But environmentally friendly travel doesn’t have to be that extreme – though kudos to you if you do cycle across the country! There are many other simple ways to integrate eco-friendly travel habits into your personal travel style. From cutting down plastic waste to eating locally, here are 10 ways to be a more environmentally friendly traveler.
To be a more eco and sustainable traveler, enjoy fresh meals at local restaurants rather than food from major chains. This will help cut down importation and it means you’re getting delicious locally sourced foods, which is almost always of better quality and, of course, a fresher taste.
Don’t use plastic shopping bags.
Let the cashier know you don’t need a plastic bag and bring an environmentally friendly canvas bag instead. Why? A plastic bag can take thousands of years to decompose
and many end up in our oceans, so to help keep the planet clean, opt for a canvas bag
If you find yourself without a canvas bag and need to pick up some groceries while traveling, ask an employee if there are any paper bags. Most stores carry paper bags even if they’re not in plain sight.
Pack a reusable water bottle.
It’s estimated that a typical plastic water bottle takes 450 years to biodegrade. Be kind to the places that you visit by not leaving home without a reusable water bottle so you’re never in a situation where you have to choose plastic.
Here’s a fantastic eco water bottle
to use during your travels.
Ditch the to-go cup.
You’re on vacation, so take a moment to unwind and enjoy the beverage where you purchased it. You’ll be cutting down on waste and it might just be a great spot to sit and people watch.
Go to local coffee shops.
In addition to ditching the to-go cup, fuel your caffeine needs at local coffee shops instead of chains. Most coffee shops roast their beans locally, meaning you’re getting fresher, less environmentally impactful coffee as it didn’t have to be flown in from overseas.
Avoid plastic straws.
A lot of places around the world are now ditching plastic straws for more environmentally friendly options, but some destinations haven’t caught up with the rest of the world yet. To be safe, pack your own reusable metal or bamboo straws
or don’t use a straw altogether.
Walk, cycle, or use plastic transportation.
Instead of taking a taxi everywhere, get around on foot or cycle. You’ll become more acquainted with the destination this way, too. For longer distances, use public transportation like buses or trains instead of flying or using taxis when possible.
Use the “Do Not Disturb” sign.
If you’re staying in a hotel, keep the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door so that you can avoid receiving clean towels and other items when unnecessary. Also, remember to turn of the TV, lights, and adjust or turn off air conditioning when you leave the room.
Research hotels and travel providers before booking to ensure that they are running a sustainable and environmentally conscious business. Search for companies that behave ethically to the environment, animals, and people and strive to lower their carbon emissions and waste.
is a great starting point for finding eco-friendly vacations.
Then, there’s companies like Ecobnb
, which is similar to Airbnb but strictly eco-friendly. You can find private rooms, houses, cozy eco lodges, and more.
Do the best you can.
Maybe you can’t achieve all the tips listed here right away, but once you start thinking with an environmentally conscious mindset, a lot of these will just become second nature. So, do the best you can do and strive to better our planet by being a more eco-friendly traveler.
Christa Adams is a writer, photographer, and sustainable traveler based in Barcelona. She's been traveling solo since 2014 has a passion for the outdoors, coffee culture, and exploring quaint European towns. Follow her adventures at www.thespiritedexplorer.com