26 Sustainable Travel Tips for Eco-Friendly Trips

Two people packing their car for an eco-friendly road trip.
  • Jul 10, 2023

Summer is here, which means for many people, travel season is in full swing. When planning your next trip, it’s important to keep in mind what its environmental impact might be and take steps to minimize the negative impacts your trip might have on the environment. Here are some eco-friendly tips for sustainable travel to help you make sure your future travels are as green as possible:

1. Take a train or bus rather than flying, as airplanes have a much greater carbon footprint. You can also try the Amtrak Auto Train on the east coast to transport both you and your car by train!

2. Take direct flights when you can. Direct flights cause fewer emissions, as the most emissions occur during takeoff and landing. You’ll avoid the hassle of layovers, too!

3. If you’re driving, travel at off-peak times so you don’t waste gas while sitting in traffic. 

4. Pack lightly—the more a plane (or train, or car) weighs, the more carbon emissions it emits. Pack lighter for a smaller footprint!

5. Pack a reusable water bottle that you can refill throughout your trip, rather than buying disposable plastic water bottles.

6. Buy reusable toiletry containers to use on all of your future trips. You can fill these reusable containers with all of your normal toiletries whenever you travel, rather than buying new travel-sized bottles for each trip. Check out this year’s best reusable toiletry bottles.

7. Pack your toiletries and other belongings in reusable Stasher bags, rather than single-use disposable plastic bags. The clear sandwich-sized Stasher bag is TSA-approved and perfect for toiletries!

8. Adjust your thermostat before you leave. Make sure you’re not wasting energy by keeping the air conditioning or heat set higher than it needs to be while you’re away. 

9. Adjust your blinds before you leave. If you’re traveling in the warmer summer months, close your blinds to keep your home cooler. If you’re going away during the winter, keeping your blinds open in rooms that receive direct sunlight can allow more natural in and keep your home warmer—allowing your HVAC system to save energy.

10. Consider installing a smart thermostat before you leave. By allowing you to adjust the temperature from your smartphone and automatically self-adjusting based on the current weather, smart thermostats can help you save energy and money while you’re away.

11. Turn down your water heater to save energy while you’re away from home. Water heating accounts for about 20% of the average electricity bill, so turning down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F) can help reduce your energy bills.

12. Do a final sweep of your home before you leave to make sure all of your lights are turned off, your faucets are completely turned off, and your electronics are turned off or unplugged. 

13. Stay in hotels or lodging that are committed to sustainability—whether they are powered by clean energy, have a LEED building certification, are committed to recycling or composting, or take other actions to reduce their environmental impact.

14. Don’t have the hotel wash all of your towels each day. Save water and energy by making sure the hotel staff only washes the towels that must be washed that day. 

15. Put the do not disturb sign on your hotel room door during the day if you don’t need your room cleaned. This will save resources by preventing the hotel staff from having to wash your sheets and towels, vacuum, and use chemical-based cleaning products.

16. Take any leftover hotel toiletries home with you, such as half-full shampoo bottles, as the partially used toiletries are often thrown away.

17. Adjust the thermostat in your hotel or lodging—it’s often set much cooler or warmer than you need it to be. Adjust it to a more reasonable temperature to save energy. 

18. Walk, bike, scooter, or use public transportation to get around your destination when possible, rather than driving or using rideshares.

19. Rent an electric, hybrid, or fuel-efficient car if you need to rent a car on your trip. Renting a car is the perfect time to test drive an EV, if you’re considering making the switch!

20. Eat local or plant-based foods and drinks to reduce the environmental impact of your meals.

21. Shop local. Support the local economy and shop more sustainably by trying to buy gifts and souvenirs made in the local area. 

22. Be mindful of your food waste. This can be difficult while you’re traveling and eating a lot of meals at restaurants. Try to order smaller meals that won’t leave you with a large portion of leftovers that will end up in the trash—and eventually emit methane in a landfill. Also, be smart with your grocery shopping before you travel so you don’t have to throw perishable food away before you leave.

23. Be mindful of natural wildlife and landscapes. For instance, if you’re snorkeling in coral reefs, don’t touch the reefs and make sure to use reef-safe sunscreen, and if you’re hiking, make sure to leave no trace on the trail. Help protect our precious natural lands and wildlife!

Kayaking in nature with the sun shining for eco-friendly travel tips

24. Do activities that don’t use energy, cause emissions, or harm the environment in other ways. Enjoy the great outdoors and keep your footprint small by doing activities such as hiking, kayaking, biking, or sightseeing by foot. 

25. Choose to visit places that are eco-friendly. If you’re traveling abroad, consider going to one of these “eco-friendly destinations” or choosing one of these "eco-friendly adventures"—or, reduce your travel footprint by traveling to destinations closer to home, such as a new city that’s easily accessible by train or within driving distance.

26. Offset your travel emissions. Several airlines and travel companies offer offsets when you’re booking your trip, or you can purchase offsets through other carbon offset programs. Do research to make sure the offsets you choose are going to impactful, verified programs to reduce carbon emissions. Most importantly, keep in mind that even if you purchase offsets, it’s still crucial to reduce your environmental impact when you’re traveling (and when you’re home) in other ways as well!

Looking for more ways you can make a positive impact on the environment? One of the easiest and most impactful ways you can help protect our planet is by choosing 100% clean, renewable energy from wind and solar for your home. Learn more about how you can sign up today to help create a better environment for future generations.

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