Sustainable Travel: How to Cut Down on Waste for Your Next Trip
July 20, 2021
By Danielle Owen

While travel isn’t overarchingly sustainable, there are plenty of reasons to continue exploring the globe. Immersion in different cultures leads to a greater understanding and acceptance of differences, immense personal growth and the knowledge of universal similarities and how interconnected we truly are on this planet.

So while air travel may not be great for the Earth, the positive repercussions of travel will hopefully lead you to more respect for the planet as a whole. That being said, there are plenty of things you can do to make your own travels more sustainable:

Invest in Reusables

There are plenty of things we use once and throw away, especially while traveling. Single-use plastics are one of the worst environmental pollutants. Luckily, there are plenty of innovative solutions to combat single-use items. In many cases, these “solutions” you find while traveling will wind up becoming some of your favorite at-home products as well.

Water bottle

Personally, my favorite part about traveling with a reusable water bottle is not paying $5 for water at the airport. In fact, many airports around the world have filtered water stations scattered around the terminals, specifically for refilling your own bottle.

Hydro Flask not only makes some of the most well-loved reusable water bottles with amazing insulation, but they also do great things to give back to environmental conservation. Nalgene and Klean Kanteen are other great options. If you’re buying a plastic water bottle, make sure you look for one that’s BPA-free.

Refillable travel-size bottles

Refillable shampoo, conditioner and even toothpaste bottles are easy to find nowadays. You can even nab ones made of recycled plastic.

Not only are you helping the environment, but refillable travel-size bottles allow you to bring the shampoo and conditioner you use normally with you on vacation. Want to take it one step sustainably further? Invest in shampoo and conditioner bars and toothpaste tablets that you can throw in travel containers and help reduce your single-use plastic consumption entirely!

Reusable straws, utensils, cups

Travelers that enjoy dining and drinking outdoors will benefit from always having cutlery, cups and straws on hand. And in addition, you can happily say no to the plastic-wrapped, plastic fork, knife and napkin from take-out restaurants. Backpackers will also find it very handy to have their own silverware for cheap meals on the go.

Plenty of companies make awesome, collapsible cups out of durable materials. Instead of paying for overpriced drinks at your next hotel, hit up the grocery store and bring your own bottle of wine to the beach, cups included!

In addition, you can find everything from silicone baggies for snacks to reusable cling wrap.

Be Mindful of your Transportation

Driving and flying are two of the worst contributors of greenhouse gases to the planet. While travel certainly requires one of the two more often than not, there are other things you can do to limit your transportation-based carbon footprint.

Look into whether you truly need to rent a car at your destination. Plenty of places have incredible public transportation systems in place. And even if they don’t, you may still be able to walk everywhere you actually want to go or rent a bike for active exploring. Trains are one of the best options abroad and allow you to enjoy the scenery en route!

Do Your Part

There are plenty of things you can do in your everyday life to live more sustainably, and many of those things crossover into travel. In addition, there are plenty of travel-specific decisions you can make to help the planet.

When visiting your destination, try to make sure that the activities you’re participating in are eco-friendly. Many “swim with the dolphins” or “ride the elephant” experiences are not done with the animals’ or the environment’s best interests at heart. Do your research before signing up.

Try to choose hotels or B&Bs that invest in sustainability. Googling “sustainable hotels at (insert your destination)” is a great way to find options. While there, be sure to abide by your hotel’s instructions for only replacing linens or towels as needed. If your hotel doesn’t have a “hang to keep” type guideline, let the front desk know you’re happy to use the same linens and towels for the duration of your stay.

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About the Author

Danielle Owen
Danie is a full-time traveler and freelance travel writer. She’s been on-the-move since 2015 from Albania to Zambia (and 70+ others in between). She’s developed a very sophisticated algorithm that evaluates countries based on a thorough analysis of their wine, hot sauce, local friendliness, and how hard she happy-cries at their nature. You can find her portfolio at owentheglobe.com or her photos on Instagram @danieelizabeth