7 Simple Ways To Travel Sustainably 


Farah Fazanna •  Jul 25, 2022

Featured photo credit: lucas wesney on Unsplash

The discussion on climate change had amplified when most of Western Europe was hit by a heatwave recently. Sure, there are plenty of factors contributing to climate change, but one of them is commercial travelling. Research has shown that aviation contributes 4% to human-induced global warming and while the number may not seem like a lot, it’s the large amount of fossil fuel combustion that’s contributing most to the problem.

As a traveller, this doesn’t mean that you have to stop flying completely. There are ways to make your trips more sustainable, including where you go, what you pack and how you decide to get there. You don’t have to overhaul the whole trip as sustainable travel is all about making smarter choices! We’ve put together a list of practical tips that will help you along the way, so you can start your sustainable travel journey.

1. Slow down your travels

Whenever you can, travel overland. There are plenty of train trips that you can take and bonus: these train trips will make for an amazing travel experience! The International Transport Forum reports that travelling by train generates up to 10 times fewer carbon emissions than an airplane. And high-speed trains like carbon-neutral Eurostar are three times more energy efficient as compared to regional trains. Also, the views on a train ride are usually amazing! So, take your time and enjoy the journey!

Want to try out train travel? Check out our articles for some inspiration:

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2. Make flights greener

Credit:Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

Sometimes plane travel is the only viable way to reach some of the world’s great destinations.  Don’t worry, there are ways to make flights a little greener. One of the easiest ways you can do to offset your carbon footprint is by selecting an eco-friendly airline. Look for a carrier that uses sustainable aviation biofuel — like United, Qantas, and KLM — and fly direct when possible. 

Also, did you know that flying economy is more sustainable than flying first class? Yes, that’s right! According to a 2013 study by the World Bank, flying first class can be more than five times as heavy on carbon per person. Packing as light as possible cut down on the weight of the airplane, thus saving fuel — and baggage charges. 

3. Eat and drink locally

While there is nothing wrong with sticking to familiar global brands like Starbucks and McDonald’s when travelling to a new country, try to seek out the best in local produce. Choose restaurants serving local dishes, which tend to use local ingredients. This way, we can avoid eating at restaurants that used imported ingredients. Street food is your best bet to try local food and bonus: it’s usually cheaper than going into restaurants!

4. Do not disturb

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One of the simplest ways you can help the environment is by hanging up a 'Do Not Disturb’ sign on your hotel door. You don’t change your towels or sheets every day at home, and you certainly don’t need them to be changed daily while on vacation too. You’re saving the electricity needed to vacuum, the water needed to wash linens and clean bathrooms, not to mention the harsh chemicals used in the cleaning process. Only ask for your room to be cleaned when necessary.

5. Interact ethically with animals

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We know that visiting animals during a vacation is a must-do especially if you’re travelling with children. As such, be mindful and always do your research when choosing an animal-related tour or attraction. Just because it has ‘sanctuary’ in its name doesn’t mean they’re animal-friendly. If you are keen to see wild animals in their natural habitat, choose places that offer ethical and sustainable animal interactions such as elephant sanctuaries and marine conservation volunteer projects. You should definitely avoid elephant rides as well as experiences where animals are behaving unnaturally.

6. Pack reusable items

Credit: Quoakka Bottle on Unsplash

Avoid single-use beverage bottles and bring your own reusable water bottle on your trip. Most hotels these days have water refilling stations so you can refill your water bottles before going out for the day. Refillable toiletry bottles and tote bags are other eco-friendly items that you can add to your packing list. You’ll create a lot less waste by using reusable items!

7. Spend your money locally

Many communities are hurting from the lack of tourism due to the pandemic over the past couple of years. You can help them bounce back by making sure your dollars stay in the local economy. The best way to do it is by supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs. Stay in locally-owned homestays, dine at local restaurants and buy souvenirs from local artisans. If you book a packaged tour, choose an operator that prioritises local suppliers. This way, you can learn more about the local culture!

There you have it! Follow these simple steps to travel sustainably and gain insights into the local culture at the same time. Let’s make the world a better place! For more travel tips, check out our other articles:

11 Essential Money-Saving Tips Every Traveller Needs

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5 Essential Tips For Muslim Vegan Travellers