Over time, the travel industry has witnessed incredible growth.  Thanks to low cost airfares, online booking sites and an increasingly global community, it is easier than ever to hop on a plane and venture to the other side of the globe.  But, these activities are not without negative consequences to the earth we love exploring.

There is tons of information that will inundate you with detailed information on environmental impacts, carbon footprint, and things along those lines.  That information is incredibly important, but can be very complex.  I have found if things are too complicated, people loose interest. To make sustainable travel more relatable, there are plenty of easy and basic things you can start doing right now. 

Here Are  5 Easy Tips For More Sustainable Travels

Book Local  

This includes hotels, activities, and tours.  Do you know that by booking with a local company, you’re helping strengthen the local economy?  When booking with a big company, more money goes to the corporation’s pockets than to the host community.  Depending on where the company is headquartered, the bulk of the funds may not even stay in the country you are visiting.  This is called leakage.

A great example of this is cruise ship excursions.  By booking through the cruise line instead of independently, you’re guaranteed to be able to participate in your favorite advertised activity.  But the cruise ship gets more kickback from your booking with the company they partner with.  Other local providers miss out on their opportunity to provide you a great experience. 


Shop Local  

Similar to booking local, this has the same outcome. Avoid the franchise restaurants and eat at local restaurants. Buy handcrafted souvenirs or items from local vendors and artisans.  You’ll help boost the local economy and improve the lives of many  workers, like this local fisherman. 


Be Aware Of Your Exotic Purchase

While certain items may look tempting, it’s best not to purchase those which maybe damaging or even illegal.  Items made out of ivory, furs, feathers or rare plants should be immediate red flags.  For more information on the 5,000 protected animal species and 28,000 protected plant species, check out CITES’ website. 


Keep It Green, Keep It Clean

It is crucial to respect the environment where you are visiting. This ranges from recycling, picking up litter, not taking things from the natural environment, and trying to leave things better than you found it. This also includes being mindful of interaction with wildlife and the habitat you’re impacting for them. 


Switch Up The Sunscreen

Do you know that regular sunscreen is full of chemicals that are harmful to both you and the environment? By switching to biodegradable sunscreen not only will you lessen pollution of your body and any given waterway you might be swimming in, but you will also help minimize harm to the oceans’ delicate coral reef systems.


These are just a few basic things you can do you for a more sustainable trip.  Each of these items listed are incredibly easy for anyone to incorporate into their trip.  If everyone would take a few minutes to change their actions, we could lessen our negative impacts and increase positive ones.  We must remember that we only have one world and we all need to be good stewards of it, even when traveling!

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  1. Congrats on starting a Sustainable Tourism grad program. I hadn’t heard of many (any?) programs that offer that subject, but I think it is hugely important. I love that you remembered to mention that purchasing exotic species like butterflies, bird feathers or even shells is definitely not responsible tourism. Lots of people forget that important one!

  2. Great post! I live in a tourist destination and we definitely appreciate it when travelers are mindful about their impact on the world around them!

    1. Thank you! I lived in a tourist destination for awhile too and it was always appreciated when people respect the area they’re visiting. I can’t wait to learn more about this subject and act as a change agent!

  3. First, awesome photos. Second, i always try to travel as green as I can, and pressure others but unfortunately we never know enough. Great tips!

  4. I really like your tips! My favorite was about protecting our oceans. I didn’t even know there was a biodegradable sunblock. Can you name a few brands so I can look out for them? Most sunscreens cause my face to break out so maybe this is the solution! 😀

    1. I didn’t either, and it’s such an easy change! Target carries a chemical-free brand called Bare Republic. Other brands out there (check Amazon, Natural Grocers, etc.) include Reef Safe, Alba Botanica, and Tropical Sands. Basically, avoid any of the main sunscreen brands…

  5. Such a great post with important reminders! Nothing angers me more than seeing plastic bottles at a beach or national park – come on guys! Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories, right? 🙂

  6. Great post with such important reminders! I hate seeing plastic bottles at beaches and national parks when I travel – come on guys! Leave only footprints, take only memories – right? 🙂

  7. First of all, I love that you are promoting sustainable travel because I think that’s one of the most important things that you can do as a blogger with an audience. Second, I just learned myself the last note about sunscreen! I had NO idea that all those chemicals might actually be causing MORE problems than the sun itself. Super crazy!

    1. I never thought about sunscreen either! It’s a big issue with an easy change! Thank you so much for the feedback – I’m planning on focusing many blog posts on this as I continue working on my degree.

  8. These are all fantastic tips! I am a big big big fan of booking local, it’s so important to support local businesses. Even when it comes to shopping as well – I prefer going to the local markets. Sustainable tourism is such an important topic that I need more and more travelers need to consider when they head overseas.

  9. sunscreen is the one thing I wish I could switch. Unfortunately I need SPF 100 and only 1 company makes it that I know of. My fair skin burns to a crisp with anything less.

    I do like that you are promoting sustainable tourism though. It always bothers me when I see people trying to bring exotic birds through airports.

  10. Awesome tips! I love how you included the one about staying green and clean. A lot of people tend to leave trash everywhere and it drives me madddddd!

  11. I love the idea of sustainable travel…great tips you provided that we should all be doing. Its all about saying green, clean and keeping the environment from harm. Also like that we should buy local, and do our business local. Looking forward to more of your posts on this topic. Thanks for sharing!

  12. congrats on your grad program! Thanks for sharing, healthy tips for everyone. Will be following your blog…happy travels

  13. I’m glad you’ve covered both being environmentally sustainable as well as impacts on local culture/economy. I’m a big fan of making sure my money is going to local people and businesses rather than the same old corporations. Nice one!

  14. Great post, Jenn. I think it’s very important to talk about sustainable travel as much as possible and you give some excellent tips here. Sometimes it’s all too easy to be drawn to the familiar shops or international brands but shopping and booking local is very important to the local economy as you say!

  15. Good post, not really thought about suntan lotion before, so thanks for that tip!. We always try and support the locals, don’t forget you can book direct with local people too via their own FB page or websites, rather than a tour companies, we do this quite a lot. Good point about illegal products, we were really surprised when we went to Greenland earlier this year that the souvenir shop was full of products made from animal products that are banned in the UK and Europe.

  16. First off Jenn, congratulations on finishing your first class with such a high score, that’s fantastic! I read this post with keen interest; sustainable tourism is important to me and I am so pleased to hear you will be sharing your knowledge with us in a series of blogs. As for this one, great tips, thank you! When we were on our cruise, we ensured we booked with local companies and found that we not only found trips cheaper than what the cruise liner were offering, but they were better and with local guides who will clearly be able to tell you so much more about the country you are in 😉

  17. Nice post! It’s a very important topic that should be taken seriously. If we want to visit amazing places around the world, we have to be smart about it. Thanks for sharing!

  18. This is definitely an important topic that I really need to look into more. With more and more people travelling, I’ve become increasingly aware of the impact visitors have on locals and local economy and we all need to do our share to make sure we’re giving back to the community we’re visiting. Can you recommend any books or articles to read up more on this topic?

  19. We’ve stopped buying trinkets and souvenirs from our travels for many reasons: we don’t have the bag space to carry them and I don’t want more stuff on my shelves at home, as we’re trying to be minimalists. So instead, we buy essentials. On our current trip to France I bought a bobble hat in Millau and a reusable shopping bag in La Rochelle, now every time I use them I’m reminded of these places, plus I support the local economy, plus they don’t end up on a shelf collecting dust!

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