How can we plan more eco travels and travel more sustainably? This is a question many eco-minded people ask themselves; whether they are interested in simply sustainable travel, or want to make a change in their travel style. With many years as a traveling family taking environmentally conscious trips, here are our top sustainable travel tips. We have included exactly what eco travel is, how to take more environmentally friendly holidays, and our top eco friendly travel products recommendations.
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What Is Eco Travel
It’s easy to get bogged down in definitions when you begin to look at eco travel or the associated areas of responsible travel or sustainable travel tips. Here we are going to try to break eco travel down to how we interpret it; which is hopefully fairly simple for fellow travelers.
Sustainability, as a concept, goes back some 30 years to the Brundltland convention. They defined sustainability as “living today for future generations”. In our life, we quite simply define sustainability as “living in our means with consideration for the future of our planet”.
Eco travel is, for us, economic decisions considering the future of the planet. It means being aware of your impact and making decisions to minimize that impact.
Honestly, probably the most environmentally sustainable way to approach travel is to holiday close to home, in an eco-friendly way. However, you are reading this because you want to learn how to travel sustainably. So, here are our tips for eco travels and how to have environmentally friendly holidays.
Tips For Eco Travels & Sustainable Travel Tips
- Live, and travel within your means. See that wonderful holiday advertised for a quarter of the price but to do it you will have to max out your credit cards? Then don’t do it!
- Consider the types of travel you do. Cruise lines and resort package holidays are notoriously not sustainable for the environment. If you enjoy this type of travel, do your research and support companies that have an environmental policy.
- Look for eco-friendly hotels and research where you are staying. Check that they have a sustainability policy. Do they recycle? Do they support local people, do they have fair labor laws? Even if they don’t tick all their boxes, your questions might prompt them to consider these options. Look for certification like Rainforest Alliance, Ecotourism Australia, Green Globe 21, Sustainable Travel International. For a much more comprehensive list check here.
- Eco travels and sustainable style lodges and accommodation are often boutique, high-end, or even luxury establishments. We understand that not everyone can afford this type of travel. If not, go back to option 3 and try to find places that fit your budget and have some kind of sustainability policy. Make sure you TELL the companies you are considering it in your decision-making process.
- Offset your flights. Again, this can be an expensive exercise especially if you are traveling as a budget traveler. If you can’t afford to offset, then consider planting some trees.
- If you have a choice, choose non-stop flights. It is taking off and landing which has the highest carbon emissions.
- When you are traveling take shorter showers, turn off the AC/heating, and lights when you leave the room. Make sure you hang your towels, a universal sign that you wish to reuse them again.
- When you are in local places consider your impact on the environment as tourists. Travel with the intention to “do good”. This is a topic we cover in detail in our post How to be a Responsible Traveler – For Families.
- Finally, we are all about living in a more minimal way. So we aren’t advocating buying more stuff, but there are some eco friendly travel products out there that can help minimize your impact. More information on that below.
Our Top Eco Friendly Travel Products & Sustainable Travel Items
Here are our recommendations for eco travel products. One of the ways to go on more environmentally conscious trips is to choose eco-friendly travel products and sustainable travel items. These are easy to action ways to make your travel more sustainable by using some different products that reduce the impact on the environment while you are on the road. Like sustainable or ethical travel, we struggle a bit that some of these eco-friendly travel products come with a higher price tag than the “normal” variety of items. However, we think these products make environmentally-friendly holidays easier to achieve.
Solar Powered Or Wind Up Torches/Flashlights
This is a no-brainer. Batteries cost money; and so if you invest in a solar-powered torch you are not only helping the environment but you are helping the planet.
Solar Power Battery Charging Set
If you are going to be carrying extra battery packs then look at a solar-powered battery charging set or solar power bank.
Take Your Own Water Bottle And Refill
Or better still – filter your own water while on the road. There are a plethora of water filters on the road. We’ve used a hand pump (time-consuming) and sterilizing tablets (unpalatable) but haven’t tried the Steripen type purifiers.
Refillable Coffee Cup
If you are a coffee lover you probably already have your own refillable coffee cup – but will you take it on holiday? We have on the last few holidays and it feels GREAT!
Pack some carry bags to avoid getting plastic bags at the shop. However, if you are like us, we usually wrapped wet clothes/ swimwear in these bags so you would need to make an additional purchase of a ‘wet bag’ to pack the wet bathers!
Every single day, 500 million straws are used in the United States alone. Cutting out your plastic straw use is a simple way to drastically reduce the amount of plastic that you use personally.
Pack sunscreen that isn’t going to damage the reef. One that is chemical-free for little ones is a big one for us. Think about all the tourists swimming on coral reefs, innocently shedding the toxins found in sunscreen and the impact on the coral. Choosing a non-toxic sunscreen is vital for water-based holidays.
Other Eco-Friendly Travel Products
After several years of experimenting with chemical-free products (and often paying a premium for the privilege), we have ended up buying all of our home products (think shampoo and conditioner through to dishwashing liquid) in bulk from a local ‘eco-house’. We take along our glass bottles and fill them up and can then decant later. In the case of travel, we can’t go glass but decant into small plastics. We haven’t used GoToob but this brand sounds ace!
A Word About New Purchases
By no means we advocate buying new clothes or other travel items for the sake of switching. However, if they are genuinely worn out and need replacing think eco or ethical.
Allow some time to do this. Also, consider looking for sustainable travel brands, eco-friendly, or ethical companies. Everything from luggage sets to laptop carriers, to umbrellas, there are a plethora of different types of products on the market.
When you begin researching, the ‘eco’ products are likely to be more expensive, and as you read their credentials I’ve always felt a tad befuddled? Are they the real deal? Do they really do what they say they do? Will your extra cash really be spent in an effective manner? I can’t answer any of those questions. However, allow a bit of extra time to do your research. Also, make a purchase that supports the future of the planet
Tips For Plastic Free Travel
For many, traveling is an amazing experience. It can often lead to profound, life-changing adventures but travel can also have a great environmental cost. It is estimated that tourism accounts for one-tenth of the world’s carbon emissions. Traveling plastic-free can help the environmental burden. Here are our top five tips for plastic free travel.
Plastic Free Travel Kit/Sustainable Travel Kit
Perhaps the single most important thing you and your family can do to achieve plastic free travel is to make a plastic free travel kit. These are re-usable, eco-friendly travel items to take with you on your journeys.
Your plastic free products travel kit should include:
- Fold Flat Travel Cup and/or Coffee Cup
- Metal or Bamboo Straws
- Reusable Water Bottle
- Cloth Bags
- Eco-Friendly Re-usable Utensil Set
- Shampoo and Soap Bars With Metal Containers
Below is our favorite plastic free travel products. Click each one for more details.
Refuse Plastic When Flying
This is often an overlooked way to reduce your plastic consumption while traveling. With a few simple flying tips, plastic free travel is totally attainable.
First, refuse individual plastic cutlery during meal service. Instead, opt to use your own reusable eco-friendly cutlery instead. Not only is a utensil set great for flying, but it should also be part of your plastic free travel kit.
Second, bring a reusable water bottle and ask the airline attendant to fill it for you instead of taking plastic cups for beverage service. If you must use a plastic cup, keep your cup throughout the flight instead of using a new one each time you need a drink.
Lastly, be conscious of other unnecessary plastic used during the flight which will be discarded. This could be anything from the plastic drink stirrers to the plastic-wrapped wipes to clean your hands after a meal.
Many airlines are making the push to become plastic free. Do some research and think about supporting these airlines if possible for your travels.
Choose Eco-Friendly Or Plastic Free Travel Clothes
This tip can sometimes be the hardest to follow and often requires the most monetary investment. It is no secret that eco-friendly clothing and travel gear often are more expensive than their counterparts. However, consider the old adage that you get what you pay for. Often the increased price means better quality, more ethically sourced materials which in turn last longer, meaning less waste in the landfills.
If you are not sure how your favorite brand contributes to plastic free travel or a sustainable lifestyle, check out their website. Most brands, like hotels, will include posting their sustainability policy on their website that includes the company goals and ways in which they are striving to create more sustainable, ethical clothing.
Sustainable Or Eco-Friendly Hotels
Choosing to stay at eco-friendly, sustainable hotels is a great way to use your travel dollars to support other businesses who are committed to plastic free travel.
Many eco-friendly hotels reduce the use of plastic in different ways. Some of these include not using individual toiletries in each room or not using plastic straws in the drinks they serve.
The best way to find out is to inquire. Many eco-hotels will have a full description on their website about their initiatives and the ways in which their hotel strives to be more eco-friendly. When in doubt, give them a call or send them an email and ask about their policies. This is a great habit to get into when trying to increase your eco friendly travels.
Buy A Travel Water Purification Device
Depending on where you are traveling the water may not be safe to drink. However, don’t let that be an excuse for your family to use plastic water bottles. Invest in a water purification device that you can take along on your travels.
There are many options on the market. Many can be purchased very easily from Amazon. These devices are simple to use and easy to travel with. Having a water purification device makes plastic free travel more attainable in many parts of the world.
Below are a few different devices available for purchase on Amazon. Simply click on each for more details.
What Is Our Experience To Write This Article
Ariana, our mama traveler is the co-founder of Apus Peru Adventure Travel Specialists, based in Cusco, Peru. Apus Peru is a responsible, sustainable, and ethical travel agency. Ariana has grappled with these concepts for over 10 years, especially how to put words and ideas into tangible action. In addition, this business was Rainforest Alliance verified. An interesting process and illuminating how profoundly sustainability can be explored. Read more about our qualifications and experience here.
The Verdict – Ultimate guide to Eco Travel & Environmentally Friendly Holidays
Taking more environmentally friendly holidays does take effort and thought. Defining what eco travel means to you or your family is a great place to start. With these sustainable travel tips you can start being a more environmentally friendly traveler.
What does eco travel mean to you? Want to recommend any great sustainable travel tips we haven’t included? Leave us a comment below.
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