What’s the Greenest Way to Travel the World?


If you’re like most eco-conscious people, the idea of travel creates some friction. On one hand, you want to see different places and enjoy new experiences. On the other, you don’t want the environment to suffer as a result of your personal travels. Fortunately, some travel methods are greener than others.

Making Green Travel Practical

Since biking, walking or traveling by horse-drawn carriage aren’t practical ways to traverse long distances, we have to realize that traveling is going to have an impact on the environment. The key is to minimize this impact so that you can see the world without breaking it down.

Practically speaking, what does this look like for individual travelers? What’s the greenest way to travel in a cost-efficient, time-sensitive manner without being a carbon hog?

1. Choose Green Destinations

There’s something to be said for choosing the right destinations. While it’s typically more eco-friendly to travel to nearby countries (versus those on the opposite side of the globe), you don’t have to limit yourself to what’s in your backyard. You should, however, choose what travel experts would classify as “green destinations.”

By visiting green destinations, you’re essentially infusing money into economies that prioritize environmentalism. You’re rewarding them for their behavior and encouraging them to continue. Costa Rica is a prime example.

“That country’s focus on ecotourism is so deep and pure that it’s become a huge part of the economy,” Avital Andrews, lifestyle editor for Sierra magazine, told The New York Times. “You can see it in the landscape. It’s like this Eden of rain forest and wildlife.”

African wildlife reserves, U.S. national parks and green cities like Copenhagen are other recommended destinations.

Costa Rica is a green destination. Photo: Adobe Stock

2. Be Strategic With Travel Methods

Even more important than where you travel is how you travel. This infographic from 1BOG shows the carbon footprint for various travel methods. If you’re traveling a long distance — more than 2,500 miles — a bus is your most eco-friendly option. Since this rarely possible with international travel, you’ll be happy to know that airplanes are the second most efficient way to move around. On the other end of the spectrum, driving an SUV is the least efficient method of travel.

When it comes to air travel, you have options. While commercial jets are ideal, don’t immediately write off private jet charters. You should, however, only deal with companies that actively work to offset the carbon footprint.

Stratos Jets is a good example. They have an Eco-Jet Charter Program that allows clients to contribute to a fund that’s used to support initiatives that deal with farm power, landfill gas capture, clean energy from wind power, abandoned coal mine methane capture and forest management.

3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Finally, always follow the three R’s of the environment when traveling. Whether you’re in the rain forests of Costa Rica or the bustling streets of Copenhagen, there are ample opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle. (One example would be to carry around a reusable water bottle, which reduces your plastic consumption and helps you stay hydrated.)

See the World in Green

We live in a global society. While there are certainly remote tribes, rural countries and individual communities that are isolated from mainstream society, most of the world is connected via the internet and other platforms of mass communication.

Despite this “connection,” there still isn’t a perfect way to travel the world and see creation firsthand without leaving your carbon footprint behind. Moving forward, your goal should be to steward your resources well and avoid unnecessary waste. Do this and you’ll find your travels to be both green and rewarding.

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Jenna Cyprus

Jenna is a freelance writer and business consultant who covers business, technology and entrepreneurship. She's lectured for several universities and worked with more than 100 businesses over the course of the past 15 years. She's a mother of two kids, and loves to go camping, hiking and skiing with her family.