Be eco friendly when travelling with these 16 sustainable travel hacks

Is it possible to travel and be eco friendly?

While we enjoy ourselves on our travels and holidays, Mother Earth is crying out for help. The suffering that the environment faces from our travel enjoyment is often the elephant in the room that is never spoken about. Try these 16 environmentally friendly sustainable travel hacks, and do your bit towards helping.

It’s a shame, because many of our travel ventures centre around the natural beauty that the environment offers.

The sad thing is the beauty of the environment is starting to quickly diminish, through landfill, over use and pollution. Plastic waste in our oceans for example, is at an all time high.

As travellers, it’s a part of our duty to do our part and to educate others about the sustainable efforts that they can adopt whilst travelling.

Here is a list the UN aims for 17 sustainability goals.

16 environmentally friendly sustainable travel hacks

Here are 16 sustainable & eco friendly ideas that you can try to help achieve sustainable travel and make your travels less impactful on the environment….

1. Carry your own reusable water bottle.

Whether you are travelling as a backpacker on a budget or you are travelling in luxury, the thing you will continually come across whilst travelling  is bottled water.

It’s good in a way that you will have access to water that won’t affect your health BUT the downside is that the used bottles will be disposed of.

Instead, why not carry a water bottle that can be refilled. Even at conservative estimates, you would save the consumption of at least 3 bottles a day.

If 100 travellers take a similar action, it could save the disposal of 300 or more used plastic bottles ending up in landfill a day!

2. Carry a lifestraw.

If you are concerned about drinking the local water, pack a Lifestraw and fill your reusable bottle with the local water.

Drink the water through your lifestraw, which will remove any bacteria in the water.

You can see a demonstration of the Lifestraw in the video below….

3. Embrace solar solutions.

Almost everybody carries a portable smart electronic device around with them these days. This means there is a need to have access to power. And most power solutions come from the burning of coal, which emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

One eco friendly way to get around this is by using solar cells that store power in a battery, which can then be used for your electronic device.

There are several portable products on the market at relatively inexpensive prices.

Entry-level solar solutions start from $60USD.

Some of the solar charging solutions worth considering include:

4. Rent a green vehicle.

You can minimise the impact on the environment from your travels by renting an electric or hybrid car.

Vehicles such as the Toyota Prius or one of the Tesla models are available for hire from certain car rental companies.

With the electric car, you will need to consider the availability of powering stations, as well as the way that the energy is produced in that area to really understand the environmental savings that you will make.

5. Consider a camping holiday.

For 100% sustainable travel, rather than stay at hotels or fancy resorts, opt for a camping holiday with a tent or even a campervan.

You’ll find that you will use fewer resources whilst travelling this way.

Plus you will get back to nature using more primitive but eco-friendly survival methods.

If you would like to go the camper van route, try and find a reliable company in the country you are in for hiring, one that can possible offer a greener vehicle.

For example if you are travelling around Australia, a great way to find a reliable hire company could be to compare campervan hire options with Camper Champ.

And what could be better than sleeping under the stars!!

6. Stay in sustainable accommodation.

There are some hotels doing the right thing when it comes to sustainability. Their actions can make it much easier for people to adopt sustainable habits without even realising that they are doing so on their travels.

National Geographic featured a few hotels leading the way in sustainability in one of their publications.

Some of the ways hotels have implemented more sustainable travel activities include:

  • Bottling their own water onsite in glass bottles.
  • Harvesting rainwater
  • Energy efficient electrical systems, such as LED lighting
  • Building materials come from sustainable sources
  • Designed to maximise the amount of solar lighting
  • Uses recycled materials (paper, cardboard, furniture, materials)
  • Uses solar panels

7. Take an alternative to air transport.

Airplanes are known for emitting particles and gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Lets face it, they are definitely not a sustainable travel option. The fewer plane trips you can take on your travels, the lower your carbo footprint whilst on your travels.

Instead of travelling by air, try to travel by train as often as possible.

There’s an interesting post on Seat 61, which details how carbon emissions are up to 90% lower when taking a train compared to a plane.

8. Check the environmental practices of local tour operators.

It’s surprising to see the amount of local tour operators that are happy to make money by presenting their local environment, but they aren’t willing to participate in programs that will help protect it.

Before going ahead with a tour operator, find out if they participate in any programs that help the local environment or even the local community.

Are they are dedicated sustainable travel agent?

9. Avoid using disposable items.

Almost anywhere you go on your travels, you will be presented with items that are disposable.

Disposable cups, disposable utensils, disposable straws and more. The list goes on.

We have become too accustomed to using items once and then throwing them away. The disposed items then end up in landfill and contribute towards the local pollution problems.

10. Stop using disposable plastic bags.

We pick them up from the supermarket easily and in many developing countries, they are still being used and disposed of in abundance.

As good as it is to recycle any plastic bags by using them for storage during your holiday, it’s likely that they will be discarded as waste and end up in landfill.

So please avoid taking and using disposable plastic bags whilst you are travelling.

11. Plan eco friendly travel routes

Planning where and how you will commute to your travel destination will minimise your impact on the environment.

See if you can stay in accommodation that is within walking distance to the landmarks that you want to visit. No only will you gain the benefit of walking more, you’ll also help the planet!

Also find out if it is easy to hire bicycles or even electric bicycles as an environmentally friendly way to commute.

You can easily use Google Maps to workout the distances and commuting time to landmarks that you want to visit.

12. Include volunteering in your travels

See if you can include some sort of voluntary activity during your travels. There are organisations that can coordinate helping out local communities, as well as protecting wildlife.

Even simple activities like teaching in local schools or supporting women’s rights in developing countries.

13. Read on your e-reader or tablet

Whether you are about to travel at an airport, at a bus station or on a train, you will be tempted to purchase magazines, newspapers or books for the duration of your travel.

Once you have finished reading the item, if you have nowhere to recycle them, they will get thrown away and usually end up in landfill.

Instead, invest in an e-reader or use your tablet to read electronic versions of the books or media that you’d like to consume.

When you’re finished with them, they will remain stored on your device and will minimise your impact towards landfill.

The e-reader is more eco friendly than a tablet device, since a charged e-reader usually lasts for a month; compared to tablet that lasts for 1-3 days.

14. Buy locally produced products.

Buying your products from local vendors can help boost the local economy, as well as halting the import of goods from abroad.

The environmental cost from the distribution of imported goods is significant when you consider the CO2 emissions from the vehicles used to transport the goods.

15. Use e-tickets

Try to obtain an e-ticket to minimise the amount of printing. Whenever you check in physically at an airport, they will have to print paper tickets, which are only good until you reach your seat.

Instead, try to download a PDF or scannable version of a ticket to your phone or electronic device.

Many airlines offer this service when checking in online. So it is worth taking the time to check-in prior to arriving at the airport.

16. Carry a multipurpose towel.

Hotels and resorts will usually offer towels to their guests and then offer to wash them daily. Not very eco friendly!

Many of these hotels and resorts also dry the towels in electric dryers. This adds to the electrical consumption cost, which can also contribute to carbon emissions.

Instead, reuse the same towel that’s offered or carry a multi-purpose towel that you can use during your stay and even when you go outdoors.

A simple microfibre towel is a simple, yet cheap option. They are also easy to hand wash and dry out naturally, fairly quickly.

Make your own recycled Flip Flops

Planning on going somewhere hot on your travels? Why not try making your own recycled eco friendly flip flops to take with you.

Take responsibility for your footprint

It’s too easy to get into a habit that negatively impacts the environment.

As travellers, it’s our responsibility to not only be accountable for any actions that we take that can impact the environment, but to also educate and show others how sustainable travel is a real and simple option that can be included in their travel lifestyle.

Travel essentials

Check out our natural product travel checklist here, to ensure you don’t forget any essentials before you go.

Let us know

We would love to know any other eco friendly ideas you have for sustainable ways to travel.

Please let us know in the comments below…


Nemek is the founder of the campervan comparison website Camper Champ. As an avid traveller, he also believes in the importance of travelling responsibly with eco-friendly and zero-waste methods.

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