We live in an era where literally anything is possible. Our parents couldn’t have dreamed of traveling as much as we do. And let’s not even talk about our grandparents! It’s true that the world is getting smaller and smaller — we can visit pretty much any country on a budget. It’s absolutely amazing and terrifying at the same time.
Traveling opens minds. It broadens horizons, heals broken hearts, lifts spirits, brings people together, creates purpose, and gives sense to life.
But it can also destroy local cultures and economies, and hurt the environment… very badly.
So, how can we make sure we’re doing everything we can to travel with minimal impact on our beautiful planet and its inhabitants?
Disclaimer — Don’t worry, this blog post is NOT a lecture. Our world is extremely complex and most of the time, when we are actively trying to do good, our actions actually have a bad effect on something that we might consider totally unrelated – if you have watched ‘The Good Place’, you know exactly what I’m talking about -. This post isn’t going to tell you to stop using bottled water or flying, because you already know that and are doing the best you can.
On this note, I’d like to add that flying to visit family or loved ones is OKAY. Even Greenpeace said so.
Without further ado, here are some tips to start traveling more eco-friendly from NOW on:
- Prefer flights with few to no layovers
It’s not about traveling without flying, it’s about flying more consciously. Research showed that paying an extra fee to compensate for your carbon footprint doesn’t make much of a difference, but some airlines will let you choose which charity you want to donate that money to. However, it is true that an aircraft releases 50% of its carbon emission during takeoff and landing alone! Avoiding layovers and preferring direct flights is a great way to travel more responsibly.
- Pack smart & reusable
There are so many things you can pack to make sure you are being as eco-friendly as possible. Here is a non-exhaustive list of a few of them!
• Reusable water bottle
• Reusable coffee cup
• Reusable straws
• A bamboo toothbrush
• Reusable cotton pads
• Period panties or biodegradable pads/tampons
• Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bars
• Reusable bag
• Reef-safe sunscreen
Now, some of these are not indefinitely reusable – such as the toothbrush -, but depending on the country you’re visiting, the waste sorting might or might not be great. Using biodegradable single-use products will ensure that your waste doesn’t have a huge negative impact on the environment.
You can also check out my blog post ‘The 5 Sustainable Travel Products You Didn’t Think Of’ for more details!
- Prefer booking local stays and activities
Being eco-friendly goes hand-in-hand with respecting local cultures and wildlife. Don’t book the all-inclusive resort; instead, stay in a locally-owned hotel. Don’t book that big cruise everyone is talking about; instead, go on a little boat tour with locals that will tell you all about the local wildlife and show you all the best spots!
Once again, I’m not judging. I have stayed in big hotels before. I went to Mexico by myself – that will be the subject of another post! – and I wanted to stay in a safe neighborhood. Living a sustainable life is about progress, not perfection.
- Use public transportation instead of taxis & Ubers
I know that technically, taxis and Ubers are driven by locals. But public transportation is one of the best ways to get around sustainably. It obviously depends on where you are — for instance, in my hometown in France, public transportation is cheap, efficient, and goes all over town. Whereas In Vegas, where I live now, it is an absolute nightmare: expensive, unsafe, one bus every hour or so, and you have to go all around town before getting to your destination (a 20-min car ride = a 2+ hours bus commute).
- Or walk if you can!
That’s even better! When I was traveling around Europe and Mexico, I mostly walked my way around town. It’s the cheapest, most sustainable, and most efficient way to discover a city! And it’s the healthiest too!
- Respect the 7 Leave No Trace principles
I’m not an expert ecologist but I feel like the Leave No Trace principles are exactly that… principles — principles that should be logical for us all.
1. Plan ahead and prepare
2. Surf and Camp on durable surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave what you find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be considerate of others
For more information and resources about LNT, please visit the official website here.
- Consider exploring your own backyard
I am a HUGE advocate for exploring your own backyard. It is cheaper, supports the local economy, minimizes your carbon footprint, and let’s be honest, we almost all take where we live for granted! Having moved to 3 different countries, I learned the hard way everything I love so deeply about each place, and how I didn’t enjoy it enough when I was there. I know that living in Las Vegas, it’s easy for me to say, given the incredible backyard that we have here. But I promise you, if you look deep enough, you will find the beauty of your region!
Make sure to check out my blog post ‘4 reasons why you should explore your own backyard’ in which I go in-depth on the subject!
Traveling is such a wonderful thing but can really have a negative impact on our planet and local cultures. It’s a constant learning process, and I truly hope we’ll get better and better at it as we go.
So let’s keep doing our best, empowering and teaching each other without judgment, and appreciating the little things.
As always, thank you so much for reading me. Let’s connect on Instagram and let’s be friends!