7 Tips to Be a More Sustainable Traveler
Travel Blogger from Norway
Travel Blogger from Norway
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7 Tips to Be a More Sustainable Traveler

27 Nov 7 Tips to Be a More Sustainable Traveler

Mountain rhododendron blossoming

Pink rhododendron flowers and happy young woman on summer mountainside(Ukraine, Carpathian Mountains)

Travelling, unfortunately, isn’t always the most sustainable activity. But, if you’re concerned about the environment and local communities, there are plenty of things you can do to limit the effect your travels have upon them.

Here are seven tips to be a more sustainable traveler:

Research Tour Operators
Not all tour operators have the same ethics with regards the environment and local communities. I’ve found that the best tours use local guides and can give you information on their ethical credentials. Don’t be afraid to ask before you buy if you’re set on travelling more sustentable. Many companies advertise themselves as ethical operators because they know it’s a good marketing tactic so you should check they have the knowledge and info to back up their claims.

Research Accommodation
Just as some tour operators talk up their sustainability, so too do many accommodation options. Do a little research before booking. You can find accommodation that operates with the environment in mind, using less water and using locally sourced products where possible. Ask these 10 simple questions to find out if they really have a sustainable philosophy. Alternatively, forgo a traditional hotel or hostel in favour of a short term flat share. It will be an, even more, local (and sustainable) experience.

Avoid Plastic
Plastic bags and containers are a huge problem for our environment. They find their way into oceans, endangering the lives of sea creatures and changing their habitats. Avoid plastic wherever possible when you travel. This could mean carrying a tote bag around with you for any purchases you make. Also, take your own water bottle and drink local tap water where it’s safe to. Alternatively, purify local water with tablets or, if you do need to buy bottled water, try to buy glass bottles that can be recycled.

tent on sea shoreTravel Slowly
We all know that travelling by plane has a big impact on your carbon footprint. If you have the time, travelling more slowly can really help the environment (and help you avoid that dreaded jetlag too!). Trains are a better option than air travel and allow you to see more of the countries you’re passing through. Even better, hike, cycle or kayak some of your routes!

Don’t Support Mistreatment of Wildlife
In many countries around the world, you’ll find animals being used as a tourist attraction. For instance, you can visit tiger temples and go on elephant rides in Thailand. Consider the lives these animals lead and do your best not to fund and encourage keeping animals in captivity. In addition, don’t pay street performers for photographs of their exotic animal pets and don’t buy any wildlife products – you may be inadvertently supporting the trafficking of endangered animals.

Leave No Trace
Wherever in the world, you go to enjoy the great outdoors, always remember the “Leave No Trace” mantra. If you’re camping or hiking, take all of your rubbish with you and don’t remove any natural elements from the environment as a souvenir.

Support the Local Economy
Locally made handicrafts sometimes come at a price. And some travel destinations will also import fake handicrafts that have actually been made in China. These can be bought for a cheaper price – always tempting when you’re travelling on a budget – but they don’t support the local economy in quite the same way. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect holiday keepsake, try to find out where the items you buy have been made.

Travelling sustainably may mean travelling more slowly. It definitely means thinking more about where you go and what you do while you explore the world. The good news is, the more we opt for sustainable travel options, the more available they’ll become.

About the author:

An avid traveler, a huge fan of photography and an animal lover – that’s how Michelle Arios describes herself when asked who she is. Whenever not visiting yet another country, Michelle is found writing on behalf of BizDb.co.nz or taking Social Media courses. Feel free to follow her on @MichelleArios.


  • Rhonda Albom
    Posted at 14:44h, 29 November Reply

    I like all your advice for sustainable travel as it flows down to everyday living. I am very used to minimizing my waste stream as New Zealand has a “pack it in, pack it out mentality”. Waste bins in parks are not all that common so I minimize the expected packaging I bring so I have less to take out and discard. Drink bottles are reusable and I source local products to minimize transportation impacts from bringing things in from far away.

    • Michelle Arios
      Posted at 16:27h, 04 December Reply

      Dear Rhonda, thank you very much for your kind words! Yes, I agree, we should definitely all try to travel the green, sustainable way! It’s great you have such a smart policy in New Zealand. Unfortunately, I have seen many places where I traveled where tourists would just leave their rubbish behind 🙁 Terrible.

  • Claire
    Posted at 17:45h, 29 November Reply

    These are really great tips, we should all follow these to try and reduce waste & really make a difference to the area we visit. It can be hard though to choose well, eco-friendly and sustainable have becoming marketing ‘buzzwords’ now so you’re right, a lot of companies use them without have the real credentials to back up the claim. Plastic is a massive thing for me now, I started diving this year and couldn’t believe the amount of rubbish floating around. I always bring a tote bag with me everywhere, and have a reusable water bottle with a filter that I use everywhere – not only does it help the environment but it saves me money too!

    • Michelle Arios
      Posted at 16:31h, 04 December Reply

      Hi Claire!
      Yes, reusable water bottles are absolutely great! 🙂 And they are a great way we can reduce waste and make a difference, even if it is just a small one. Diving must be great – I have never tried it before! I hope that if I do, I won’t see any rubbish floating around. Thank you very much for your comment!

  • Paige W
    Posted at 22:38h, 29 November Reply

    These are really great tips. I definitely try to travel slow and when I’m in a country with drinkable tap water, I never buy bottled water. I’m also really big on researching tour operators. These are great tips to be good to the environment, cultures and local economies! Great post!

    • Michelle Arios
      Posted at 16:34h, 04 December Reply

      Hello Paige! Thank you for your kind words! Yes, it’s just like Claire said – ‘sustainable’ has become a buzzword and some tour operators try to profit from it! Researching the ones you choose from and actually choosing those that care about environment is a great way to show we all care!

  • Laura
    Posted at 05:35h, 30 November Reply

    I love that you mention avoiding plastic. I think people often don’t even think about it when they’re using straws and such on such a regular basis. I am currently living in Vietnam and it actually makes me sick to my stomach how much plastic goes to waste here. It’s really disheartening. Either way, these are all awesome tips and definitely something that everyone should consider reflecting upon before heading out on the road or even in their day to day. We only have one Earth!

    • Michelle Arios
      Posted at 16:37h, 04 December Reply

      Great point – we only have one Earth and we all have to care for it and make sure we don’t pollute it! Thank you for stopping by and commenting! Wow, I have always wanted to visit Vietnam. Have you been living there long?

  • candy
    Posted at 17:51h, 30 November Reply

    These are all really great tips. Avoiding plastic is so important cuz it’s actually one of the hardest ones to avoid. I’m so guilty of buying plastic water bottles knowing I should bring my own a refillable one! Next time instead of buying the plastic one, I’ll buy the one in the glass bottle 🙂

    • Michelle Arios
      Posted at 16:41h, 04 December Reply

      Thank you for stopping by Candy – Let’s remember that glass bottles can hurt environment too if they are just left as rubbish. But if you properly dispose of them, you’re good to go! Above all, we need to reduce the single-use bottled water consumption – all that needs to be done is if we buy refillable bottles. They come in so many variations that everyone will find at least one they like! 🙂

  • Izzy
    Posted at 22:44h, 30 November Reply

    ALL OF THIS FOR THE WIN!! I love seeing more and more bloggers promoting mindful practices, it seems like words need to be more catchfire in an age where clickbait is always telling us to swim with dolphins and visit human circuses. I completely agree about not supporting mistreatment of wildlife on all fronts, as well as not using plastic. I always try to carry reusable containers wherever I go and I never ask for plastic unless absolutely necessary. And supporting the local economy should always be the main recipient when it comes to positive impact.

    • Michelle Arios
      Posted at 16:44h, 04 December Reply

      Wow, so many of us using reusable water bottles! That is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! And if even more people join in, we can truly make a difference! Thank you very much for stopping by Izzy and for your warm comment! 🙂

  • Rahul Khurana
    Posted at 08:43h, 01 December Reply

    This is very thoughtful and i completely agree on each point you mentioned. It is every traveler’s responsibility to keep the nature clean and help the locals through their travels. It is only by following these things and being more conscious that this world can become a better place. But its sad that very few follow all of this.

    • Michelle Arios
      Posted at 16:47h, 04 December Reply

      Hi Rahul! It is sad that so few people care about sustainable traveling but I am actually an optimist. I believe that our numbers are growing and soon traveling green will no longer be just a trend but a simple way of live for many, many people!

      Thank you for stopping by Rahul! 🙂

  • LaiAriel Samangka
    Posted at 20:22h, 01 December Reply

    I truly agree with al what you have written here, especially the leave no trace since I always trek to the mountains. The other thing that I love is how you reminded each and everyone of us to avoid using plastic, which I have been practicing this as well for 2 years now. With all what you have written here and if they all be adhered, mother earth would be very happy and this world will be a better place to live in. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • Michelle Arios
      Posted at 16:50h, 04 December Reply

      I love mountains very much too! But unfortunately, I find many places where tourists just leave their trash behind. Guess it was easy to bring it to the mountains but it’s hard to carry it down, right?

      I wish you luck with your mission of not using plastic. 2 years is a long time – I hope you can keep it on!

      Thank you!

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