During the last years, tourism and traveling became more and more popular. We all love to travel, collect experiences and explore new places. The environmental impact of traveling more often is huge if you take into consideration, for example, all the transports that you use or all the food, drinks you buy. A lot of places are getting dirty because of the tourists, and sometimes global tourism can destroy the living place of the locals. We would like to share with you some tips and tricks that helped us to travel more sustainable and minimize our environmental impact whilst traveling. Here are our tips for sustainable traveling!
If you"re interested in ecotravel, click here to check out our article about How to take an eco-friendly road trip!
1. Don’t buy plastic bottles - Bring your own filter bottle.
By bringing your own bottle you can avoid buying plastic bottles and like that you can also save a lot of money. Usually in Europe it’s possible to fill your bottle in every water tap that you find, but if you visit countries in Latin America or Asia, then it’s better to have a bottle with a filter, because you can’t get drinkable tap water. Buying a filter bottle is worth it and it’s the best and most useful investment, usually you can change the filter as many times as you need to.
2. Ditch disposable cups - Take your own eco cup for coffee or tea
If you’re a coffee or a tea lover, then you will probably need you caffeine while travelling as well. If you’re in a rush and you want to take it away, then bring your own cup and ask the waiter or waitress to put the coffee in your cup. Sometimes they still might look at you in a strange way, but it’s really worth it. You can order a cup online or buy it in different eco stores.
In Mexico there are some shops called OXXO where you can even get the first 5 coffees for free if you buy an eco cup.
3. Don’t buy fruits and vegetables wrapped in plastic bags - use your own net bag
Wrapping every single fruit or veggie in plastic is just one of the stupidest ideas that the stores ever had: there is no necessity to cover fruits in plastic due to its natural protection that you can wash and peel. Try to avoid products that are already wrapped in plastic and most important: take your own net bag with you and pack your fruits and veggies in there.
It’s important all around the world, but more important while you travel, because you don’t want to pollute the country that you visit.
4. Buy grocery, souvenirs from locals
Choosing local stores over global supermarkets is also supporting the locals and helps to grow the local economy. This way the locals will have profit of the tourism and will have more resources to take care of the beautiful places you visit.
For example: if you’re in Mexico, go to buy the handmade souvenirs made by local people, who are selling them on the street.
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5. Bring your own soap, toiletries and don’t buy extra toiletries
Toiletries and soap are necessary for the everyday life and you can always find a more sustainable and ethical version of them. This is more tip in one: first of all, ditch plastic toothbrush and get a toothpaste made of bamboo. That’s the first step. The next one is: say no to plastic bottles and grab a locally made (vegan) soap and take it with you.
The third step (we also have to take this step): instead of shampoo bottles you can buy shampoo bars and take it with you. Fourth step: make your own toothpaste (this step is still waiting for us, right now we use a natural vegan toothpaste, but still: there is a packaging).
One extra tip for women: instead of disposable pads and tampons use organic menstrual cups while you have your period. You just have to buy it once, use it, wash it and then reuse it again: that’s all.
We have put together an ultimate guide to eco-friendly toileteries.
6. Say no to plastic bags - bring your own grocery shop bag
A plastic bag might be gone in anywhere from 10 to 100 years (estimates vary) if exposed to the sun, but its environmental legacy may last forever. Plastic bags never decompose, they just turn into smaller pieces of plastic. Sometimes in the supermarkets they give you a plastic bag even if you’re not asking for it… It’s better to bring your own textile bag and pack everything inside. And then use it again, instead of throwing away the plastic bag and then asking for one more at your next shopping.
This can be easier while you’re at home, but maybe in the country where you travel it’s something unusual.
7. Travel by bus, train – say no to plane – or offset your carbon footprint
This is quite a tricky point. We know that there are several places that can be reached only by a plane or it’s much cheaper to take a flight. Because the efficiency of the aircrafts is bigger if they make long flights. For short routes is better to take a bus, or share a car with your family or friends! In any case, if you need to take a flight, you can always choose to pay the carbon footprint tax that the airline itself offers when you purchase your flight ticket, or you can offset your footprint by donating to an organisation like the Climate Care (climatecare.org) .
8. Use public transport, bicycle or walk – but do not rent a car for 2 people
The way of transportation developed a lot and nowadays it’s so easy to reach places. Some extra comfort sounds very good, but the fact of having way too many cars on the roads can’t be ignored.
There are best ways to move to the places, using cars is always good if it will be used by many people, but in case that you are traveling alone or with your partner, a bus or train is better. Also, if you will visit a city as a tourist, why to rent a car? It’s better to get in touch with the places by walking, find every hidden detail that you would not be able to find inside of a car. In a lot of cities you can also rent bicycles, but the public transport is a good option as well.
9. Say no to plastic straws – bring your own bamboo or stainless-steel straw if you need it
Straws are some of the worst plastic pieces found in the oceans, they’re killing several animals and they are even starting to affect the health of the people. If you really want to keep using straws, you can take your own straw with you made of stainless steel or bamboo. You can click here and go to our resources page. There you will find the direct link to the NetZero Straw web page, they have lovely stainless straws in cute boxes made of recycled plastic and you can use our code DEER10 to get a 10% discount!
10. Don’t throw your trash away in the nature or at attractions
This is a must for everyone, even if you are not traveling. Litter has already destroyed the beauty of a lot of places around the globe, don’t support this kind of behavior. If you produce
some trash, keep it with you in a backpack or your pocket and keep it until you find the next trash bin. Plastic finds its way to the ocean anyway, so it’s better to not produce trash anyway… You would be surprised how much plastic and other trash pieces can you find on the beaches.
11. Don’t break the law and respect nature
There are some places where you can find a lot of rules in order to preserve nature. Please respect them, they are written for a very important reason! Don’t take photos in places where you are not allowed to be, don’t steal flowers in national parks, don’t touch sea stars, don’t feed the animals where you’re not allowed to and respect the security lines in the oceans.
12. Don’t take part in non ethical attractions
In a lot of places animals can get hurt in order to do something that entertains tourists and that brings money to the owners. Always check the organisation or company before you take part in a tour, because in some cases the animals are being hurted. Don’t ever ride elephants, because they are not an attraction!
For example: you can release turtles if you don’t touch them and if you have this experience with a trustable organisation.
13. Take part in eco travel tours and stay at eco hotels/hostels
There are a lot of companies that organise eco tours in every place. And talking about eco: we definitely have to mention the most sustainable way of accomodation: eco hostel or hotels, that are most of the time completely self-sustainable, using water energy and making food with the vegetables and fruits from their own gardens.