Sustainable Travel Tips for the Eco-Conscious Traveler

With Covid-19 restrictions lifting across the US and in many other countries, vacation plans are once again in full swing. While traveling can be an inspiring and eye-opening adventure for us, it can also be a little bit of a bumpy ride for our planet (roughly 8% of the world’s carbon emissions are due to travel and tourism.[1] !)

And since avoiding travel is *just* not an option for many of us, we’re here to share our favorite tips for how you can explore the world while also ensuring its health and longevity.

What Does Sustainable Travel Mean?

Whether you realize it or not, the travel industry can have a major environmental impact on our planet.Sustainable travel aims to reduce the negative impact that travel and tourism has on the environment. Aside from 2020 when travel was put on a global hold, international tourism has grown an average of 5% every year for the past ten years.[2] In fact, in 2019, the number of international tourist arrivals around the world surpassed 1.4 billion people.[3]

That’s 1.4 billion people:

  • Relying on modes of transportation that pollute our atmosphere
  • Tossing the plastic cups and cutlery they use in airports and on airplanes
  • Using travel-sized toiletries which don’t last as long as their full-sized counterparts, contributing to added waste.

Fortunately, by implementing our top 5 sustainable travel tips, you can help reduce your travel carbon footprint! 

#1 Pack Your Bags to Reduce Plastic Pollution

Traveling often means eating on-the-go, whether it’s grabbing breakfast on your way to the airport or finding a quick bite to eat between activities. However, these types of meals often include unrecyclable straws, bags and cutlery. To reduce your reliance on these items, pack your own reusable versions instead! (We like Preserve’s, made from 100% recycled plastic which are also 100% recyclable!)

You can even take this tip a step further by choosing other reusable travel products that are made from recycled, ocean-bound plastic (ike ZenWTR!)

 You can also choose sustainable options for:

  • Your luggage – Luggage brand Solgaard offers durability, organization, and sustainability with suitcases and backpacks made with recycled, ocean-bound plastic. Plus, for every item they sell, Solgaard removes 229 ocean-bound plastic bottles from coastlines. 
  • Your toiletriesLove Beauty and Planet has recently joined the effort to save our oceans by creating a line of shampoo, conditioner, and skin care products packaged with recycled ocean-bound plastic.
  • Your shoes – In their partnership with Parley, Adidas has developed a line of footwear made with Primeblue—a high-performance material created from recycled ocean-bound plastic.

#2 Explore the Road Less Traveled

By avoiding more popular tourist destinations, you can help reduce overtourism—the overcrowding that occurs when travel hotspots become overrun with visitors. Not only does overtourism negatively impact the lives of the locals who live in the area, but it also contributes to the pollution and damage of the local ecosystem. This sustainable practice will offer you the same travel experience but can help significantly when it comes to responsible tourism efforts.

To prevent overtourism, choose travel destinations that are off the beaten path. Visit the small town that’s just outside of the popular city and is filled with local people. You may find this travel tip fosters a more authentic cultural experience as it encourages you to:

  • Connect with the locals
  • Dine in authentic restaurants and cafes, supporting small businesses
  • Discover hidden gems
  • Access more personalized activities, such as local cooking classes or musical performances

This doesn’t mean you have to remove seeing the Eiffel Tower from your bucket list. When you do want to travel to a popular spot, simply book your trip during the destination’s “off season” to help avoid overcrowding, pollution and traffic.

#3 Try a Different Type of Transportation

Due to their level of carbon emissions, planes and cars are among the least efficient means of travel. In fact, according to the International Council on Clean Transport, 2.4% of global carbon dioxide emissions are due to aviation.[4] Rather than relying on these forms of transportation while traveling, consider booking bus or train tickets instead. When you reach your destination, explore the area on foot or on bike.

If you must fly, consider offsetting your flight’s carbon emissions. With a website like Atmosfair, you can input your flight information (including departure airport, destination, and aircraft type) to calculate your carbon emissions and offsetting costs. You can even purchase carbon offsets through a secondary website like Green-e or Gold Standard. 

By purchasing carbon offset, you help contribute to financing renewable energy projects, such as:

  • Solar and hydro power projects
  • Wind energy projects
  • Reforestation projects

#4 Sleep Soundly with Sustainable Accommodations

While you’re traveling, choose lodgings that promote sustainable and ethical business practices (most commonly, energy and water conservation, sustainably sourced food and supplies and promotion of diversity and inclusion.)  

To ensure your accommodations are truly eco-friendly, book through a website that promotes sustainable hotels, such as Bookdifferent. Since 2012, Bookdifferent has been committed to bettering the planet by making it easy for travelers to find sustainable accommodations.   

#5 Take Your Time

While it may be tempting to spend your two-week vacation flying from country to country or driving from city to city, this type of traveling increases carbon emissions through land and air travel. Instead, try going the slow travel route and start spending your vacation in one area, or traveling by train or bus between destinations when you can. This also allows time to build relationships with local community members and fellow travelers.

Travel, Hydrate, and Live More Sustainably with ZenWTR

While individual sustainable actions may seem like only a drop in the ocean, imagine if all 1.4 billion tourists worldwide made some switches to sustainable travel habits. By working together to promote sustainability in this way, we can make a significant impact on the world that provides us with endless beauty, exploration, and discovery. Because alone we are a drop, but together we’re an ocean! 

At ZenWTR, we understand that traveling and being on-the-go can make it difficult to keep up with eco-friendly practices. That’s why we create our bottles out of 100% recycled, ocean-bound plastic. In fact, ZenWTR is the first and only beverage in a bottle made from 100% recycled, ocean-bound plastic, which helps prevent plastic waste from polluting our oceans. For hydration during travel, and a healthy planet for years to come, choose ZenWTR.

Shop ZenWTR now for your travel needs!

Sources:

Sustainable Travel International. Top 10 Tips for Sustainable Travel. https://sustainabletravel.org/top-10-tips-for-sustainable-travel/

World Tourism Organization. Global and Regional Tourism Performance. https://www.unwto.org/global-and-regional-tourism-performance

Smarter Travel. Green by a Mile: Understanding Carbon Offsets. https://www.smartertravel.com/green-mile-go-carbon-neutral-next-flight/

[1] Sustainable Travel International. Top 10 Tips for Sustainable Travel. https://sustainabletravel.org/top-10-tips-for-sustainable-travel/

[2] World Tourism Organization. Global and Regional Tourism Performance. https://www.unwto.org/global-and-regional-tourism-performance

[3] World Tourism Organization. Global and Regional Tourism Performance. https://www.unwto.org/global-and-regional-tourism-performance

[4] Smarter Travel. Green by a Mile: Understanding Carbon Offsets. https://www.smartertravel.com/green-mile-go-carbon-neutral-next-flight/