The travel industry is the fastest growing in the world — that’s right, the world. With this in mind, it is becoming more and more apparent that we need to make adjustments as we travel in order to reduce our carbon footprint and preserve the environment, no matter where we are on this wonderful planet.

According to the World Tourism Organization, there were 1.4 billion international arrivals — people getting off planes in a different country than they left — worldwide in 2018 alone. This is a staggering number and reiterates the need for us as a global community to minimize the impact we have on the environment.

traveler with luggage
Image courtesy of Shena Tschofen.

Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure this summer, we encourage you to take the following tips into consideration. Saving resources and adopting greener practices is just as important when you’re traveling as when you’re at home. And there are some simple steps you can take.

Let’s look at a few ways you can reduce your footprint and become a more eco-friendly traveler.

1. Bring your own water bottle

Plastic bottles are one of the largest pollution problems in many parts of the world. They require a lot of resources to make and cannot be recycled in all places. This is why it is important that you bring your own reusable water bottle when you travel. There are tons of reusable alternatives that you can feel good about and get a lot of use out of.

2. Consider your transportation

If possible, choose a fuel-efficient aircraft to get you to your destination, such as the Boeing 787. When you reach your destination, try to use public transit, if possible, rather than renting a car. By being conscious about your mode of transportation, you will help reduce your carbon footprint.

3. Use reef-friendly sunscreen

The number of sunscreens available for purchase is overwhelming to say the least. And the majority of these contain chemicals that can damage coral reefs and other natural habitats. Opt for a reef-friendly sunscreen when traveling to sunny spots.

4. Eat local

For many travelers, this is the only way to do things. Look for local farmers’ markets, street stands, or ask locals what and where they like to eat. By making a conscious effort to eat items that are local to that area, you will support local communities, gain insight into a different culture, and help reduce the carbon footprint of your food.

5. Don’t use the hotel trash can

Most hotel trash cans are lined with a plastic bag that housekeeping changes out — and throws away — each time they clean your room. This is extremely wasteful and hard on the environment. If possible, stay away from throwing things out in this trash can, instead take your trash to public receptacles.

6. Turn off lights & AC/heater when not in use

If you are traveling somewhere hot, it can be tempting to leave the air conditioner running so that when you come back from a day of exploring, your room is nice and cool. But it’s important to shut off the lights and use your air conditioner (or heater) wisely. Leaving them on when you’re not in the room needlessly consumes energy that is likely produced with fossil fuels, contributing to global climate change.

We hope these tips will give you a good place to start when traveling this summer! By making a few small changes to the way in which you approach vacation, you will be making a difference in the longevity and health of our planet.

Feature image courtesy of Mario Mancuso

Editor’s note: Originally published on June 2, 2015, this article was updated in July 2019.


By Earth911

We’re serious about helping our readers, consumers and businesses alike, reduce their waste footprint every day, providing quality information and discovering new ways of being even more sustainable.