Swellness Blog


The Sustainable Traveler: Exploring

travel Mar 11, 2024
sustainable traveler

Photo by Te lensFix

Many people enjoy traveling, and once the pandemic was over, many re-booked their travel plans to make up for the lost time. While traveling to new destinations is a great way to broaden your perspective and enjoy some time away from our busy lives, it’s meaningful to do it sustainably. Travel can result in increased air pollution, damage to natural environments, and loss of cultural practices. However, with some of these tips, you can make your way around the globe while preserving our environment. If you want to be a sustainable traveler, here are some vital tips to abide by. 

Leave no trace 

If you have plans to camp or visit some environmental sights during your travels, the idea of “leave no trace” is necessary to abide by. When spending time in natural environments, we must be conscious of the habitats, plants, terrain, and animals. There are seven principles to leave no trace, all of which help you help support our environment and conserve natural habitats.

If you plan on visiting national parks or nature reserves, the seven principles of ‘leave no trace’ are as follows: 

  • Plan and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable terrain
  • Properly dispose of your waste
  • Leave what you find in its natural environment
  • Minimize your impact while making campfires
  • Respect all wildlife
  • Be considerate of other travelers

By following these guidelines, you reduce the impact of your travels on the environment and protect natural habitats so we can enjoy them for years to come. 

Opt for eco-friendly accommodations

Many hotels, airlines, and transportation companies are doing their part to minimize the impact of tourism on the environment. When booking your travel accommodations, check for sustainable options. Some airlines opt for sustainable aviation fuel, using excess CO2 to supply fuel for airplanes. Additionally, many hotels use low-flow toilets, recycled water, and eco-friendly cleaning products to reduce the use of non-renewable resources and minimize chemical pollutants being released into the atmosphere. 

Use Sustainable Transportation

In addition to finding eco-friendly airlines and hotel accommodations, you’ll likely be doing some exploring while on vacation, which is another area to consider more sustainable alternatives. Instead of renting a car, see if your destination offers public transportation. If you’re visiting a walkable city, get your steps in and explore by foot, or rent a bike and get around on two wheels. By opting for more eco-friendly means of transportation once you’ve reached your destination, you support the city’s air quality. 

Support local businesses

Visiting new places opens you to various unknown foods, businesses, and tourist attractions. Supporting local enterprises while traveling helps the local economy, and the people who live there, and allows you to explore the local luxuries of a particular location. Plus, only going to places you recognize from back home, like Starbucks or McDonald’s, limits you from trying new things. Consider taking out a payday loan before your trip or opening a checking account to effortlessly transfer money without expensive foreign transaction fees so you can make purchases whenever you want without carrying large amounts of cash.

To find the best places to visit and support local businesses while doing it, ask the locals for their recommendations. Go to your hotel concierge and inquire about their recommendations on restaurants, activities, or other options like ethical clothing stores. Not only will they be able to help, but you may qualify for discounts on your purchase because of the business referral. Or, keep your eyes peeled while exploring for any businesses that catch your eye. Not only does supporting the local businesses support the people who live there, but it makes your trip all the more memorable and enjoyable. 

Conserve water and energy

On average, hotels use between 100-200 gallons of water per room, accounting for anywhere between 30,000-70,000 each year per room. In addition to using the majority of a city’s water supply, hotels also account for a significant portion of energy. This is why it is essential to conserve these resources, even while vacationing. 

Photo by Gareth Davies

Respect wildlife

When visiting natural reserves and wildlife parks, you must do your part to respect the habitats of the animals you see. To conserve and respect these parks, reduce noise levels and avoid sudden movements like running or sprinting. If you plan on taking pictures, ensure any digital sound levels and flash are turned off. Additionally, remember to take any trash with you and dispose of it after leaving the park, and never attempt to feed or interact with any wildlife. By respecting our natural environments, we can safely enjoy and observe the wild for decades to come. 

Minimize plastic waste

Wherever you are in the world, plastic is a major contributor to pollution and damage to our ecosystems. Minimizing your plastic waste is a simple way to do your part to support the environment. One easy way to minimize plastic waste while abroad is using a reusable water bottle. If you’re visiting somewhere without healthy water resources, you can purchase bottles designed to clean the water or fill up at verified water stations. 

If you plan on doing some shopping once reaching your destination, bring some reusable tote bags that are easily packable so you can pass on the plastic shopping bags. You can also purchase re-fillable toiletry bottles that comply with TSA guidelines and reduce your plastic waste with a reusable alternative. 

Engage in cultural exchange

One of the best parts about visiting a new place is participating in cultural activities and learning about the sociological aspects. By engaging in cultural exchanges, you preserve and respect the traditions of other people’s way of living. Before your trip, take the time to learn about the place you’re visiting, and time aside on your itinerary to visit museums and historical sites, and do as the locals do. Not being afraid to ask questions, try new foods, and explore new places expands your perspective and preserves the traditions of different cultures. 

Exploring sustainably 

By engaging in mindful travel, you do your part to ensure you’re doing so sustainably. While sustainability doesn’t mean you have to stop traveling altogether, by following the guidelines we’ve laid out, you do your necessary part to preserve the most beautiful parts of the world. By adopting sustainable travel practices, we can preserve natural wonders, support local economies, and promote cultural exchange respectfully and safely. 

About the Author 

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.