15 Amazing Sustainable Travel Tips
We have recently asked our @travel_leap Instagram community to share their best sustainable travel tips. Those clever things each one of them does to be more sustainable while traveling and the answers blew us away! We immediately realised two things 1) we are part of an incredible community of like-minded people who actually care; 2) there are endless ways to be sustainable while traveling, it just takes a bit of creativity and intent.
In this article we are sharing 15 amazing sustainable travel tips, which are a collection of all the ones that have been shared on our Instagram post. We are forever inspired and thankful to be able to share our ideas and our commitment towards sustainable travel with all of you. If you have any further tip, please share it with all of us in the comments below.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
1. Travel SLOW
Let’s talk about what traveling means. If traveling means discovering new countries, the culture, the way people live, thei natural beauty rather than jumping from one place to another every two days and only seeing the bucket list locations, in our opinion, does not qualify as traveling.
You cannot say you have visited Peru is the only thing you’ve seen in Machu Picchu. That’s not Peru my friend, that’s Machu Picchu! And wouldn’t you want to see a bit more in order to have a proper idea of what Peru looks like? Aren’t you even a bit curious?
Then chill out! If you have two weeks of holiday, don’t schedule a maniac trip across 4 different countries. Pick one and take it slow, spend more time in each location and enjoy the feeling that comes with soaking in the everyday life of a country. You will be utterly surprised at how much more enjoyable your trip will be (while also cutting down significantly on your environmental impact!).
2. Walk and take local transports
The ways to travel slow are endless. You can walk for example (yes, that’s definitely an option!) or rent a bicycle to better discover a place. Instead of using flights to move within a country, or even from country to country, consider using land transportation such as buses, ferries or even a car.
3. Plant a tree to offset your flights carbon emissions
We absolutely loved this idea and went on to plant many trees donating to One Tree Planted, a non profit which plants trees across Asia, South America, the US and Africa. Not taking flights at all is a pretty unrealistic scenario, even though as we suggested above we all need to rethink the way we travel and chill out a bit! On the other hand, there is always something you can do, and planting a tree is a great start. One dollar for one tree planted is a small expense from your side which will go a long way.
(Tip by @unsettledcouple)
4. Refillable water bottles and water purifier
This is the number one tip we have received and we couldn't be happier. Plastic bottles are the devil! Considering that most plastic bottles (and plastic in general) is not recyclable or recycled, carrying a refillable water bottle or a water purifier is one of the best way to dramatically reduce your environmental impact. We personally use the Grayl water purifier, a portable water purifier that functions as a refillable water bottle. You can purify water from taps, rivers and all other water sources (beside the ocean). If you are traveling in countries where you know the tap water is drinkable, then you can opt for a normal water bottle like this one.
(Tip by @ourfamilypassport, @imlostinwanderlust, @marianapostcards, @imemmarae, @tea_for_taryn, @alexandreatravels, @andreas_travelss, @mapping.along, @thirdeyetraveller; @globetrottingsu; @wayfarer_anki; @northsouthtravels; @venturebeneaththeskies; @allaboutwanderlust_;@thecommonwanderer)
5. Bamboo, stainless steel or glass straws
The ‘say no to the straw’ movement has really picked up recently and we have seen so many establishments, from small cafes, to famous hotels either not offering straws anymore or offering alternatives to plastic, which makes us really happy! From our side, what we can all do is travel with reusable straws in either bamboo, stainless steel, glass or other. You can find some here!
6. Portable cutlery and containers
Especially in Asia, plastic is handed to you pretty much for free and seemingly everything that once was made in order materials is now made in plastic. It’s truly an epidemic.
A great way to be able to enjoy local markets and avoid consuming plastic is bringing with you portable cutlery and small containers. You can ask to have your food placed on the container instead of the usual plastic dish and ditch the plastic cutlery for your own alternative.
7. Shampoo, soap and conditioner bars
Shampoo, conditioner and soap bars are the way to go. This is not only a travel hack but a life hack. Think about how many bottles of shampoo or soap you go through a year. MANY! The bar alternatives to these products are eco-friendly, don’t require packaging, are made of natural ingredients and therefore better for your skin and hair. I have asked you guys to share with us your favourite brands of bars, here you go a list for you:
8. Bamboo Toothbrushes
One billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the United States, creating 50 million pounds of waste annually. The simple action to switch to a bamboo toothbrush will have an incredible effect in reducing plastic pollution from your side. We love our bamboo toothbrushes, they are wonderful to use and very gentle on your gums. You can find them here.
9. Environmental friendly Natural Sunscreen
Have you ever through about what happens to your sunscreen the moment it washes off your skin and into the ocean? Well, it pollutes the ocean, causes corals to die and generally harms this very fragile ecosystem. The next time you plan your vacations in the sun make sure to buy a sunscreen that is non only natural and non tested on animals, but also safe for the ocean.
10. Trash Bags
The chances of you having walked down a beach somewhere in the world and having found plastic and other trash washed up on shore are very high unfortunately. You can easily carry a small trash bag with you in your backpack, purse, canvas bag and whip it out when the needs come. You will leave the beach better that how you found it and have a more enjoyable experience while lying there.
11. Canvas Bags or foldable backpacks
Many countries are starting to ban plastic bags, which makes us really hopeful for a future where plastic bags will not even exists anymore. Again, this is more a life hack than a travel one, but carrying a canvas bag with you is one of the BEST things you can do for the planet. You will avoid using plastic bags at the supermarket or any other time you purchase something. Have a look at some amazing ones on Fair Baazar.
12. Support local shops
Instead of bringing back home yet another plastic souvenir that will easily end forgotten in a drawer somewhere or in the garbage, consider buying something at a local and fair trade shop. You will not only support the local community, but also come back with an authentic souvenir from the place you have visited. Coffee and the, arts and craft are great gifts to take home and you can find them either without packaging, or packaged into carton.
13. Zero waste kit
Ever thought of packing all your zero waste ‘weapons’ in one handy and portable kit?
You could get a small bag with a zip and inside pack: reusable straws, a trash bag, cutlery, bowls and a napkin. This will be particularly useful when you are visiting local markets in order to avoid having to use all the plastic options you will be offered.
(Tip by @ourtraveltip)
14. Say goodbye to shampoo and avoid using hotels amenities
There is a movement we recently discovered called ‘no-pooers’ (which does not refer as not going to the toilet as I thought!!) and suggests the idea of not using shampoo at all to wash your hair, only water or very natural products like baking soda or apple cider vinegar. The idea is that the more you use chemicals to wash your hair, the more you actually will need these chemicals because the hair will get use to their effect. So why not ditch the shampoo altogether and let your hair regulate the cleaning process on its own. We have not tried but the guys at @ourtraveltip swear by it and their hair look pretty damn awesome!
On a similar note, one easy thing you can do is avoid using the bathroom amenities you get offered in hotel, which have literally only one single use.
(Tip by @ourtraveltip)
15. Choose ethical tours
Taking part to local tours is a great way to discover a place and meet people. In most cities and touristy destinations you will find a plethora of tours option, most of them great, many of them not so great. It is important to take sometimes to research how these tours operate, if they respect the environment and the community, before deciding to support them with your money. Also, be weary of tours which just stick the word ‘ethical’ to their name, as in many cases is just a name which does not reflect in their operations. We usually spend sometimes researching on Google, TripAdvisor and blogs before deciding to join a tour. This is extra important when it comes to encounters with animals. We see way too many people on Instagram posting photos of them next to an elephant in so called ‘ethical sanctuaries’, which in most cases are not ethical at all. Have a read at this great article by Nadia of @nomadicnerd_ regarding encounters with elephants.
Thank you immensely to all of you who have contributed by sending us your suggestions and tips on Instagram. You guys are so inspiring and we learn everyday how to be more sustainable and better traveler and human being through this community.
If you have any other suggestion please drop it in the messages below!
Asja & JP