1. Engage in Environmental Education
By: Susanna from Curiosity Saves Travel
Engaging in environmental education while traveling greatly benefits your destination and increases your sustainable habit repertoire. I’m originally from Alaska. While working in the tourism industry, I saw the importance of my tour guests learning about the Arctic. Many people are left ready to take action to fight climate change threatening Alaska’s natural beauty.
As I began to travel the world, I noticed many places were under similar threats to my home state – rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and biodiversity loss. So, I took this concept of learning about the environment with me on the road. My sustainable travel tip is focused on the environmental pillar of sustainable travel. To make it a priority to see natural landscapes and learn about local species, ecosystems, and their conservation status. Better yet, what actions can I take during my travels and at home to help mitigate any potential threats to these natural places?
Beyond that, I learn how different cultures connect to the environment. What traditional sustainable practices can I adopt into my lifestyle? The world’s cultures have so much ancestral knowledge rooted in sustainability that many have lost. One of the best sustainable lessons I learned was reducing food waste while visiting my husband’s family in India. I now have a very low-waste vegetarian kitchen.
I commit to learning about the natural environment, a local approach to sustainability, and applying what I learn to take actionable steps. Will you join me? Challenge yourself to talk to locals about nature and read the environmental information on national parks and nature reserves websites. The more you know about the world, the more you will be willing to change your behaviors to conserve its natural beauty. Who knows, you might even end up back in grad school for environmental science like me – all because you took an interest in the global environment.
Follow me on Instagram – where I share lots of environmental info in my captions!
2. Use Eco-Friendly Transit Around Town
By: Pamela from from Directionally Challenged Travel
I am a mid-range traveler who loves getting off the beaten path and utilizing every moment of my time off traveling. It’s imperative that any traveler engages in sustainable practices so that our earth is still beautiful for centuries to come.
As a plus-size travel blogger, not to mention a bad knee and back, there are times I can’t handle walking for 12 hours a day, multiple days in a row. I often thought about how many miles I spent in an Uber traveling a distance of a mile just so I could get somewhere quicker than walking. I realized that I use my e-bike at home a lot as another option instead of my car, so why shouldn’t I use similar transportation while traveling.
When we did a weekend getaway to Baltimore, I was not expecting electric scooters around town. These scooters were the perfect way to see the city in a new way while being eco-friendly – and I didn’t even know they existed! I made a promise to always look for electronic forms of transportation at our destination. When we travel to Helsinki this month, we’ll be using their e-bikes to go sightseeing!
If more travelers utilized electronic forms of transportation, then hopefully there would be more available – making our cities and earth much cleaner!
Follow Pamela’s adventures on Instagram.
CS Travel Tip: Before you travel research what local companies offer E-bikes and scooters. If there’s nothing offered locally, download Lime scooter app, which works in lots of cities around the world!
3. Reduce Your Waste
By: Anukrati from BulBul on the Wing
Hi, I am Anukrati. I am a dreamer, writer, and traveloholic from India. One day I got tired of answering all the questions about my trips, so I started writing about them on my blog. One thing leads to another, and here I am.
I would start this bluntly by mentioning that waste management runs in my blood. I breathe waste segregation every single day. My husband has a waste management start-up in India. I have seen him and his partner struggling only to implement the waste segregation (into dry, wet, and reject waste) at the source. It has already been close to 6 years, and waste management is still challenging. Having been associated with this issue for such a long time, I have decided that I would try to be a responsible traveler as far as waste is concerned.
When I minimize my waste, I do not do a favor to my country or the host country: It is a favor to Mother Earth. Let this sink in for a second. Waste management is a problem in almost all developing countries. No, I do not aim to take the responsibility to manage it. The least I can do is not add to the already existing issue. My motto is simple – Leave your destination equal to or better than before.
Small changes in the traveling style can reduce our footprints considerably! Here are a few simple ways to start with on your next trip.
- Do not litter. Dump the waste properly in a dustbin. Segregate the waste, if there are separate bins for dry, wet, and reject waste.
- Do not destroy what you came to enjoy. Leave unnecessary things back at home. Recycling certain materials in other parts of the world is not always possible.
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CS Tavel Fact: Tourism is a significant contributor to waste globally. Many countries and regions cannot adequately manage waste, especially under the pressures of overtourism. Too much waste can cause eutrophication in aquatic systems and reduce the quality of life for residents.
4. Book A Local Homestay
By: Paula from Paula Pins the Planet
I am Paula and I am the founder of the Travel Blog Paula Pins the Planet. I write about authentic destination experiences and responsible travel, with the mission to encourage responsible and ethical travel by giving back to the local communities, helping to protect our environment, and practice animal cruelty-free tourism.
My top sustainable travel tip is to continue to support to choose homestays in remote villages of the places that I visit instead of supporting big hotel chains, which is not sustainable. The reasons are that the money doesn’t stay with the community, and normally big hotel chains are located in touristy areas, adding to the issue of the crowded tourism industry.
My first option for lodging is always a homestay with locals as it is a great way to travel and learn more about the people, how they live, what they eat, what they talk about, and the money goes to support a local family. Many times this is the only income they have.
I have stayed in many homestays with locals during my travels, and the most remarkable one was my Homestay with a Black Hmong in Vietnam.
I love what homestay with locals does for me – it makes me grow as a human being. I educate myself about new cultures, how people live, what they eat, what is their relationship with the place they live, etc. I believe that when we travel, we learn, we grow, and we become close to each other. Even if we are different when we immerse ourselves, we become part of the culture, and the culture becomes part of us.
Sustainable Tourism, in simple words, means when you visit a place, the impact you create with your visit is positive and respectful.
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CS Travel Tip: Booking a homestay is a great way to engage in cultural connection. To find a homestay, contact a local tour company or tourism board or try a large platform like Homestay.com.
5. Take Fewer Short-Haul Flights
By: Martha from May Cause Wanderlust
I’m a part-time traveller and blogger. I live and work in London, travelling as much as I can, but never for very long – normally days or weeks at a time rather than months. Therefore, I spend a lot of time getting to and from places.
As the world started to wake up to the environmental crisis, I started looking into ways to reduce the impact of my own travel and I discovered that short-haul flights are the worst offenders in terms of their CO2 emissions per km travelled. They’re also the easiest journeys to replace with alternative means of transport.
So, since it became easier to travel again after Covid, I have been making some trips into Continental Europe and making a concerted effort to fly as little as possible. For example, I recently travelled from London to Barcelona and Madrid by train. I’ve also travelled to Luxembourg by train, spotting in Paris for a day on the way.
But certainly, I have enjoyed doing more train travel. So far, I have learned that:
- High-speed international trains can be more expensive than flying (unless you book a long way in advance), but trains within European countries tend to be very good value
- Trains in Europe are often very comfortable, and they’re a much more pleasant way to travel – compared to planes, there’s more space at your seat, plus a greater ability to move around.
If you want more intel on travelling by train, check out Seat61.com, which is a very detailed and comprehensive global train travel resource.
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CS Travel Fact: According to a study in the Journal of Cleaner Production, short haul flights within Europe are the most carbon intense aspect of the tourism sector. Choosing a train can make all the difference! Omnio.com is a great resource.
6. Book with a Local Tour Operator or Guide
By: Paulina from Paulina on the Road
I am a frequent solo traveler and love exploring every corner of the world. I have covered several countries in recent years and look forward to seeing more of them. I more often explore cities or villages that are covered with nature. Be it the beaches or the hills; I prefer to stay around places close to nature.
I have been close to nature forever. I have always tried to use its resources sustainably. Being a traveler, I embrace sustainable travel because resources are the reason I am an explorer today. It clicked in my mind when I witnessed the exploitation of resources on one of my trips. I spotted a large number of travelers depending on private vehicles, accommodations, and stocked food.
On the other hand, people traveling with a local tour operator have access to common vehicles, sufficient food from local sellers, and accommodation arranged by the local community. It empowered social and economic resources for the local communities.
Travelling with a local tour operator is a sustainable travel solution. Previously, I often preferred to travel solo, using my own resources, but I decide to make this change in my travel plans this year. Traveling with a local tour operator would be beneficial for a wider travel community because it is cheaper, more beneficial for the local vendors, and lesser use of other resources like transport and fuel.
Sticking to a commitment can be tough, but it is a gradual process. A way to stick to this plan is to write it in my new year journal to keep me motivated. You can start with this change by taking small steps like carrying sustainable activewear to travel. Contacting local tour contractors before a trip can also be a good start.
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CS Travel Tip: Booking with a local tour operator can greatly reduce economic tourism leakage and benefit local communities impacted the most by tourism.
7. Pack a Sustainable Capsule Wardrobe
As a full-time travel blogger and digital nomad, coming face to face with the devastation of climate change happens more frequently than I’d like. In the tropical paradise of Bali, you will find yourself strolling the beach amongst hoards of plastic bottles and synthetic waste washed up by the waves. In India, trash is thrown all over the roads. Even in places like Greece, there are no public trash cans or recycling programs.
This gives me pause and makes me want to do everything I can to help our precious earth.
On top of that, with the rise of social media and the ‘different outfit for every photo’ mentality, I’ve seen a correlated rise in fast fashion. My top sustainable travel tip is to create a small, sustainable wardrobe that I can travel the world with—clothing from local and conscientious brands. Purchasing clothes in neutral colors really help the pieces stay timeless, and for each garment to go with multiple other pieces. Given the flexibility of this type of wardrobe, it’s an easy sustainable travel behavior to stick to.
This change helped me reduce cheap toxic dyes, which will inevitably be washed into our streams and oceans and ultimately killing our environment.
If this eco-travel tip interests you, you can start by shopping in vintage and thrift shops. Instead of buying new, you are giving a pre-worn piece new life and helping to reduce the damage to our earth in the meantime. Or, search ‘sustainable clothing brands near me’ on Google and support your local makers. If you can, pick your new capsule wardrobe up in-store. This will help to reduce plastic waste created by shipping.
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CS Travel Fact: 50 double-wide trailers worth of clothing end up in landfills or polluting communities in developing countries. Embracing outfit repeating is a great way to join the sustainable travel movement!
8. Embrace Slow Travel
By: Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers
After traveling full time and living abroad for years, I saw and lived first-hand the many layers of how tourism affects the local communities, wildlife, and nature.
Unfortunately, all weren’t that positive.
That’s why I started Brainy Backpackers, a travel blog to help others travel more responsibly and think about the consequences of their actions when they travel. This year, I have decided to incorporate more slow travel into my life. Slow travel gives you the time to embrace the destination in a better way by getting to know the different layers of culture and people; it gives them time to explore off the beaten path and spend more time in nature.
These are things that have always been important to me when traveling, but it is easy to rush through to see everything you want to tick off your bucket list. Especially when you only have a couple of weeks a year to travel.
Slow travel gives so much more to the communities you visit, and it suddenly becomes a relationship instead of a business of Instagram pictures vs. entrance tickets.
Once you let yourself get to know a place beyond the obvious tourist spots, let yourself talk to the locals, and show interest in their lives and cultures, you will get a completely different travel experience.
You don’t have to travel for a month or a year to slow travel. Even a week away can be slow travel. It is all about your mentality and exploring the places more in-depth. Instead of rushing to ten different places in a week, maybe just stay in one and get to know the place and its people. Stay at a locally-owned place, check out the local markets, festivals, and hiking routes.
And hey! Slow travel is great for the environment too!
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CS Travel Tip: Once you’ve mastered slow travel, dig into the slow food movemement, embracing local authentic cuisines cooked with regional foods.
9. Practice Safe, Ethical Wildlife Tourism
By: Brodi of Our Offbeat Life
As a full-time digital nomad and family-travel blogger, it’s not only my responsibility to suggest ethical travel to my readers but also to live my life in a way my son will be proud of as he grows older. I firmly believe that I need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
When my family visited Thailand in 2014, we visited what was touted as an elephant sanctuary. We thought that it was ethical just because there was no bench riding. We were wrong. Riding bareback, seeing the elephants chained up when not engaging with tourists, and watching a baby be forcefully separated from its mother made me realize that “sanctuary” is purely a marketing buzzword. Our experience haunted me for months afterward. That was when my family decided to give up on captive animal tourism entirely.
Now when I prepare to write about animal tourism, I choose excursions that align with my beliefs. That makes them much easier to write about in my posts. Ultimately, this conviction means that I do not promote captive animal experiences. I also urge my readers not to engage in captive animal tourism either.
Instead, I focus on only viewing and occasionally engaging with wild animals in their natural environment. It’s important that animals are permitted to leave a group of humans encountering them if they feel like doing so.
If done right, wildlife tourism can positively impact animal protection and conservation. This, in turn, brings funding for wildlife population restoration, habitat protection, population maintenance, and anti-poaching efforts. In fact, this is exactly what has happened with whale sharks in Mexico. Such a scenario can also help create awareness of the issue for others who may not know anything about it. Overall, it’s a win-win for both animals and local tourism.
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CS Travel Facts: Unethical wildlife tourism is linked to increased global animal trafficking and the decline of endangered animals in the wild. Whereas ethical wildlife tourism can help increase wild populations and support local communities.
10. Travel Locally to Support Local Businesses
By: Lena from Salut from Paris
Travel was always my passion – exploring new places, diving into something unknown, and generally just leaving my home for a while to escape the routines. Hence, it is not too surprising that I chose to emigrate to France in my 20s. But of course, when the routine settled in even in my new environment, my thirst for travel became bigger by the day. After 15 years of summer vacation and weekend trips, we decided to take a sabbatical and do a family around the world trip for 9 months. It was a wonderful experience. But truth be told, it was only after our return to Paris that I thought about the gigantic carbon footprint that we left on planet earth while enjoying ourselves.
Ever since, I feel that it is our duty to travel more sustainably and to keep the damage we did already in mind. My family and I are committed to traveling by train or car even, rather than taking a plane and aiming at destinations within reach by these modes of transports. En par with this decision and the immense consequences for the local tourism industry since the pandemic, we decided to support the French tourism industry and to please our wanderlust in our own country.
Admittedly, it is not difficult to find spectacular locations and destinations here, and we are certainly lucky in this regard. But I think everyone should take a closer look at their surroundings, before heading to a destination on the other side of the globe.
I am a travel blogger with a focus on Paris and France. Hence, I am coming across wonderful locations in France during my research every day, and our bucket list is growing. Ticking them off will take time and hopefully, by then, climate politics have progressed, and we can all travel more responsibly.