Eco-Friendly Travel: 10 Simple Ideas to Travel more Sustainably

eco-friendly travel - ideas to be more sustainable

After the industrial revolution, human activities started to impact our planet’s biosphere like never before at an increasingly faster and faster rate, so strongly that scientists started to define our age as a new geological era: the “Anthropocene (Antros > human, Kainos > recent, to signify the geological era where humans have an impact on the planet.

In the era of climate change and ecosystem depletion, the importance of sustainable practices in every aspect of our lives cannot be overstated. In 2023 the Overshoot Earth Day, the day when we consumed all the renewable resources that the planet can produce in a year, was on August 2nd.

What does that mean? That means that we consume more than the planet can currently sustain and that as a species, we are currently unsustainable, fullstop!

What can we currently do to reduce our environmental and social footprints? The issue seems overwhelming for every one of us, and the answer that probably comes to your mind is: “Well, alone not that much!”

While that’s true, it’s also true that every one of us can take a couple of baby steps in the right direction, and that is also true while we travel 🙂

In the travel industry, concepts like sustainable travel or eco-tourism are not new, but still widely unknown and underrated.

What exactly do they mean, and why is it so crucial to change the way we travel for our future and for the people who will come later to be able to do the same? That’s what we are talking about today! 🙂

What is Sustainable Travel? Why Do We Need It?


Destinations across the world are experiencing overtourism: people travel today more than ever before and Instagram photos rarely tell the truth about the conditions of the natural environment.

Have you ever seen a photo of the sun rising behind the Angkor Wat in Cambodia? In reality, you cannot find a place to take photos as tourists are 1inch away from one another. 

Have you seen the gorgeous photos of Pamukkale (the “cotton castle”) in Turkey? Those wonderful lakes don’t exist anymore, as the natural well that was creating them has been diverted to distribute water to the hotels that were built nearby!

While we widely talked in this blog about Why Traveling is So Important (here you find 25 reasons!), and if you ask me, traveling is me what makes life truly worth living; it is important to do it mindfully and as sustainably as possible to allow future generations to do the same after us 🙂

Unregulated, and unconscious tourism leads to environmental degradation, loss of cultural heritage, and strain on resources. This is where sustainable travel comes in.

Sustainable travel, also known as eco-tourism, refers to a conscientious approach to tourism that focuses on preserving and respecting both the natural environment and the local communities of our destinations. It’s about making choices that benefit not just the traveler but also the local communities, culture, and environment.

This means traveling in a way that minimizes carbon footprints, supports local economies, preserves local cultures, and protects wildlife.

It encourages us to be mindful of our actions and think about our travel’s long-term impact.

These are some of the major benefits of traveling eco-friendly:


Sustainable travel ensures that future generations can enjoy the same beautiful destinations that we do today.

It focuses on preserving the natural environment, protecting wildlife, and maintaining cultural heritage.

Many other travelers might have the same dreams as us, of experiencing the beauty this planet has to offer… what rights would we have to crush them? 😉


By choosing locally owned businesses, we can help distribute the economic benefits of tourism more evenly.

This includes staying in locally-owned accommodation, eating in local restaurants, and buying local products.

Plus spending the extra time to find a sustainable accommodation can save a lot of money. It

is estimated that sustainable options are on average 69% cheaper than non-sustainable alternatives.


Sustainable travel encourages respect towards local cultures and traditions.

It promotes understanding and mutual respect between tourists and host communities.

We travel not to find what we have at home, so why not take the time to truly discover how this wonderful planet works, instead of just raising the phone for a photo? 🙂


Sad but true, the travel industry contributes significantly to global carbon emissions.

Sustainable travel aims to minimize this impact by promoting low-carbon transport options, energy-efficient accommodations, and practices like recycling.

With the increasing popularity of global travel, there have been significant environmental and cultural impacts.

Are you part of the 61% of travelers interested in traveling more sustainably?

If so, here are ten tips to help you become a more responsible traveler!


10 Eco-Friendly Tips

to Travel more Sustainably

1. Choose “Green” Modes of Transportation

travel sustainable with green modes of transport

When planning your trip, choose eco-friendly transportation options like public transit, ridesharing, or if you really need a car, opt for environmentally-friendly rental vehicles.

To give you some data of the large impact you could have on the environment: the average car produces 170g of CO2 per person/km, an average bus 95g, while a train ride only contributes to 35g!

For shorter distances, consider walking or cycling for an immersive and eco-conscious experience.

By making these thoughtful choices, you’re reducing carbon emissions, showing your commitment to responsible travelling and preserving the beauty of our destinations for future generations. 


2. Pack Smart and Light

smart and light for eco-friendly traveling

Mastering the art of efficient packing lies at the heart of sustainable travel.

Embrace a minimalist mindset and pack only what you truly need.

Not only will this lighten your load, but it will also reduce fuel consumption, especially during flights.

To give you again data, every extra kilogram on a flight produces 0,36g of CO per km flown (which are usually several on a flight ;D ). 

By packing light and with advanced planning to bring everything you need, you save energy and resist the urge to make impulsive purchases because you left something at home, leading to waste reduction and a more eco-friendly journey.


3. Support Local and Eco-Conscious Accommodations

local and eco-conscious accommodations

Take a more immersive and eco-conscious approach to your accommodation choices by opting for local hostels, welcoming homestays, or lodgings.

Bonus points for accommodations celebrated for their eco-friendly initiatives!

These alternatives offer a unique and authentic travel experience and often have smaller environmental footprints than large hotel chains.

I have been a backpacker for more than a decade, and in the same way I worked in large hotels for more than a decade, I saw it all, and there’s not even comparison when talking about sustainability!

While enjoying your stay, be a responsible guest by conserving precious resources, such as water and electricity, just as you would in your own home.

This mindful approach reduces your impact and benefits the locals you’re supporting.


4. Reduce Waste While Traveling

reduce waste while traveling

Embrace a sustainable approach to your daily travel routine by packing essential reusable items such as durable water bottles, eco-friendly shopping bags, and reusable cutlery: little actions, that can have a large impact in the long term!

These thoughtful choices help you reduce reliance on single-use plastics and reduce waste.

Additionally, prioritize responsible waste management by consistently disposing of your trash in designated bins and actively seeking out recycling facilities whenever feasible.

Sometimes bins are just not there when you want them. Don’t bother too much, and carry a little bag with you 🙂

5. Eat Local and Sustainable

eat local and sustainable

Making it a point to champion local food markets and dine at nearby restaurants bolsters the local economy and effectively slashes the carbon footprint linked to shipping food across great distances.

Alongside supporting the community, embrace the practice of minimizing food waste during your travels, ensuring you savor each culinary experience to the fullest.

In addition, consider adopting a plant-based diet whenever feasible for its health benefits and reduced environmental impact, as plant-based meals often have a significantly lower carbon footprint than animal-based ones.

On a side note, did you know that for every kilo of beef, we consume 15.000 liters of Water? Crazy, isn’t it? 😉


6. Join Responsible Wildlife Tourism

by making your Own Research

responsible wild-life eco-tourism

Want to witness the wildlife? Nothing wrong with it!

Just be sure to opt for responsible wildlife experiences by endorsing ethical wildlife sanctuaries while steering clear of attractions exploiting animals for profit.

Commit to educating yourself about the principles of responsible wildlife encounters, which emphasize maintaining a respectful distance and allowing animals to exhibit their natural behaviors undisturbed within their habitats.

Show genuine respect for the animal kingdom and its natural order, and in doing so, you’ll contribute to preserving the integrity of our planet’s diverse ecosystems while promoting ethical and sustainable tourism practices.

Last but not least, be sure to investigate the tours you’re joining: often the difference in price between a sustainable tour operator and another is not that much, but in the grand scheme of things, which one you decide to support might make all the difference!

Quick Fun fact: Did you know that most money spent on Luxury Safaris in Kenyans National Parks goes back to wildlife protection?  If you’re interested to know more, check out our article on the best national parks in Kenya and Tanzania, or check out this sustainable African Safari from the United Kingdom.


7. Be Curious about Local Culture

and Rever Local Customs

be curious about local culture and practice cultural engagement

Before embarking on your journey to a new destination, take the time to familiarize yourself with the local customs and etiquette, demonstrating a deep respect for the locals.

By doing so, you not only enrich your travel experience but also play a pivotal role in promoting sustainable tourism.

Supporting local artisans by investing in their handcrafted treasures and souvenirs bolsters the economic sustainability of your visiting community.

These authentic purchases also serve as meaningful mementos of your travel experience, further deepening your connection to the destination.

Moreover, showing utmost reverence for cultural heritage sites is integral to sustainable travel too.

Respecting these historical landmarks and adhering to visitor guidelines ensures their preservation for future generations.

Sustainable travel is not just about environmental conservation: it also encompasses cultural preservation, and your behavior as a traveler directly contributes to the long-term sustainability of these cherished cultural sites.



8. Reduce your Carbon Footprint

by Understanding the Impact of your Travels

reduce your carbon footprint

Take proactive steps to mitigate the environmental impact of your travel adventures by considering carbon offset programs to neutralize your travel emissions.

These programs offer a tangible way to contribute to environmental conservation and combat climate change.

I know it’s annoying adding those 2-3$ to “offset my flight”, or “offset my ride” when booking a ticket online. Then why not choosing by yourself a sustainable organization to support? It could be a tree-planting association, a conservation group or anything you wish!

Furthermore, delve into eco-tourism programs, where the spotlight shines on conservation and sustainability.

By choosing eco-tourism options, you actively support initiatives that protect natural habitats and promote responsible tourism practices. This not only enriches your travel experience but also empowers you to make a positive contribution to the environments you explore.

When planning your next journey, you can also reduce your carbon footprint by being mindful of your destination choices.

Choose locations with lower carbon footprints and a steadfast commitment to sustainable practices.

Your decision to visit these destinations reduces your impact and sends a powerful message to the tourism industry, encouraging the adoption of eco-friendly measures on a broader scale.


9. Give Back to the Community

give back to the community

Consider dedicating some of your travel time to meaningful community engagement, such as volunteering or supporting local charities. You can find spots for doing such activities on websites like Workaway or Worldpackers, and sometimes you could also be paid for it and earn while you travel!

By actively participating in these initiatives, you enhance the depth of your travel experience and play a pivotal role in leaving a positive and lasting mark on the communities you visit.

It’s a powerful way to forge meaningful connections with the places you visit and ensure that your journey contributes to the well-being and development of the local community, fostering sustainable and responsible tourism practices.


10. Leave No Trace,

and Every Place Better than you Found it

leave no trace and every place better than you found it

Adopt the “leave no trace” principle.

Leave natural and cultural sites as you found, and always dispose of your waste responsibly.

Remember, we are visitors to these places and are responsible for preserving them for future generations!

Adding onto that, with our blog and youtube channel we also decided to partner up with an Italian initiative called “Un Sacco Pulito” (in English “a clean bag”), a group of travel-lovers with a common aim: leave every place even BETTER than we find it!

To join the initiative too, all you need is a bag, gloves, and the willingness to pick-up a trash bag whenever you got time on your travels.

Everyone a little drop, and together we might be an ocean! 😉

The Importance of Responsible Tourism – Conclusion

eco-tourism eco-friendly travel - conclusion

And here we come at the end of the article! 🙂

In this article, we have seen 10 little actionable and eco-friendly tips to make your traveling more conscious and sustainable!

Before going, I would like to stress that “responsible tourism” is a subset of sustainable travel.

It’s about making better choices for our environment and positively contributing to our travel destination’s local community. 

Travelers are responsible for minimizing their environmental impact and respecting the local culture. This means reducing waste, conserving water and energy, respecting wildlife, and learning about local customs and traditions.

Responsible tourism is not just beneficial for the environment and local communities, but also for the traveler itself, as it often leads to more meaningful and memorable travel experiences. By immersing ourselves in local cultures, we can better understand our world and create connections that enrich our lives. 🙂

It’s not surprising that 81% of travelers believe sustainable travel is crucial and eco-tourism practices are necessary to preserve our planet for future generations!

Before going, I would like to ask you:

  • Did you like the article?
  • What do you think about the topic of sustainability related to tourism and travel?
  • Do you have any other ideas or tip on how we could make our traveling more eco-friendly?

Let us know in the comments below! 🙂

Last but not least, if you enjoyed the read, be sure to check out the rest of our blog, as you might find more inspiration for your trips:

As always, thank you for reading…

…and we see each other in the next article ;D




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