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15 Simple Things to Do to Travel More Sustainably

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Hey friends,

With Earth Day behind us, I thought I’d touch on some tips that are kind to our good ol’ planet Earth. Traveling is awesome, but it can be very taxing to mother nature. Looking for ways to travel sustainably? Here are some things we can do to reduce our environmental impact while traveling!

how to travel more sustainably, eco tourism, sustainable travel

Ways to Travel Sustainably

1. Pack Light

You’ve probably heard this tip before, but traveling light has environmental benefits as well! Packing light means less weight on the plane, which means less energy and fuel to get things moving. Packing light makes it easier for you to get around as well. I’d call that a win-win.

2. Consider How to Get There

Flights may be the fastest means to get to your destination, but they consume a lot of energy to do so. More fuel-efficient modes of transportation are by bus or by train.  High-speed rail is a very energy-efficient method of transportation and produces less carbon than airplanes.

3. Book Non-Stop Flights

I try to book non-stop flights when possible for the convenience factor, but it is convenient for the environment too! It takes a lot of fuel to take-off and land airplanes. Limiting the number of stops and connections help save some fuel (and time). Again, win-win.

4. Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

Another travel essential for me is bringing a reusable water bottle on my trips. This is an easy way to travel sustainably. Bring an empty lightweight bottle to the airport and you can fill it up past security.  Boom, you don’t have to buy overpriced water. On your trip, you won’t have to carry around plastic water bottles where you may not have access to recycling. Kleen Kanteen has many quality products including water bottles and the company supports efforts for clean water, reducing plastic waste, and land and water preservation.

Klean Kanteen Classic 27-Ounce Stainless Steel Bottle With Loop Cap

5. Pack a reusable shopping bag and tote.

Another travel essential is packing a reusable bag. Purchasing several items or grocery shopping? Having a bag is versatile, useful, and limits using plastic bags. In Europe (and some US cities), a lot of grocery stores charge you for using plastic bags, so having one handy saves you some cents and makes environmental sense. I personally have this bag and I love it. The bag folds up nice and compact in its coordinating pouch and lives in my purse. It comes in several patterns, but I find this green polka dot one adorable!

BAGGU Standard Reusable Shopping Bag – Sailor Stripe 

6. Toiletries- BYOC: Bring Your own containers

When packing for trips, I have reusable toiletry containers I always bring. I am a fan of squeezable tubes, like the product below. Depending on how full they are, they can be stored squeezed down, saving you more room. The pliable container allows you to squeeze the last of the product out. These eco-friendly GoToob containers have recycled material and are eco-sourced!


Humangear GoToob, 3-Pack, Large (3oz), Clear/Green/Blue

7. Shop & Eat Local

When visiting places, try to shop and eat local. Skip those crappy mass-produced souvenir chachskies and purchase something locally made. Supporting farm-to-table type restaurants also benefit the surrounding community. When I was in Portugal, I purchased a ceramic dish from a local artist. I made a connection, learned about his family, and got to see the direct benefit. These items may be more expensive, but it’s worth it!

8. Opt to walk, bike, or public Trans when getting around

When looking at ways to travel sustainably, look at the way you travel. There is so much to see when exploring cities. One of the best ways to do it is on foot. Walk, bike, or take public trans when visiting a city. It helps you get a taste of the local culture and is less expensive than taxing a taxi or Uber to get everywhere. Many cities have bike rental programs to get around as well.

9. Opt Hybrid Cars for Car Rentals

If biking, walking, and public trans aren’t options, try asking for a Hybrid car for a car rental. Less emission, fewer times you have to fill up. Another win-win. (I’m sensing a common theme here).

10. Offset Flight Emissions

Flying does have a big environmental impact, but there some airlines that have carbon offset programs that you can purchase as well.  Delta Airlines and  United Airlines are two in the US that have carbon offset programs. Type in your flight details and it will generate a suggested donation amount to their partnered programs for carbon offset.

11. Accommodation

Selecting where you stay is another factor. There are green hotels or eco-resorts you can stay in. Those are not an option? Put the do-not-disturb on your door so housekeeping doesn’t wash your sheets and towels every single day to help save energy and resources.

12. Volunteer

Find an eco-forward organization or cause that resonates with you and volunteer to help out! You can travel to a new destination, meet new people, and help the environment in the process. There are a ton of different organizations out there, so make sure you do your research to find the right fit.

13. Eco-Friendly Travel Gear

Invest in some eco-friendly travel gear. Backpacks, totes, luggage, oh my! Travel consciously and in style. These packing cubes by Florious are made out of recycled bottles. They keep your packing organized while keeping items out of landfills.

Florious Packing Cubes Eco

Florious Packing Cubes 4 Piece Set – Best for Easy Travel Luggage Organization (Set of 4)

14. Ecotourism

Choose a destination that values sustainability. Consciously select tours or activities that give back to the environment and don’t disrupt the surrounding ecosystem.

15. Unplug Items at home & adjust thermostats

While away, you can make an impact at home too! Adjust thermostats and unplug items to conserve energy while you are away.


I hope you will apply or at least consider some of these options. You don’t have to sacrifice the quality of your trip to be sustainable. In many ways, these tips have multiple benefits that can enhance your trip. Our Earth is a beautiful and diverse place. We are grateful to have many beautiful places to explore. We can all make a more conscious effort to take care of our home!


Looking for other aspects to consider when traveling? Check out these posts:

20 Factors to Consider When Planning Your Next Trip (Factors 1-10)

20 Factors to Consider When Planning Your Next Trip (11-20)




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Design to five is a blog enhancing the link between culture, travel, and design. The blog showcases products from local, sustainable, business from around the world, and travel-related content to encourage affordable, conscious, and educational adventures for design lovers.

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