Green Travel Tips

The Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Travel 


If you took a poll asking people whether they’d prefer to be responsible or irresponsible travelers, most would choose the former over the latter. But what does Green Travel even mean? How do you do it? Do you have to sleep in a tent and cook on a solar-powered camp stove to be considered eco-friendly? 


The truth is that sustainable travel is all about making simple choices to lessen your negative impact on a given destination. Individually, each one of these choices makes only a small difference. But collectively, becoming more conscious about these little things can have a huge impact.


What we’ve assembled below are 40 Green Travel Tips that EVERY traveler can use to be more eco-friendly. Most of them are ridiculously simple, such as using a refillable water bottle, putting a Do Not Disturb sign on your hotel room door, and buying locally made products rather than imports. But if every one of our 30,000+ unique monthly visitors began incorporating these tips into their travel routine, our collective impact could be amazing!


Toyota Prius We Rented for Our North Carolina Road Trip

The Toyota Prius We Rented for Our North Carolina Road Trip



1. Book non-stop flights whenever you can: It’s takeoffs and landings that create most of an airplane’s carbon emissions.


2. If you’re traveling with family or friends and the destination is within driving distance, consider taking a road trip. If you’re traveling by yourself, it’s actually more eco-friendly to fly!

If you do fly, consider doing so with one of the 30+ IATA (International Air Transport Association) member airlines who offer carbon offset programs to neutralize the aircraft’s carbon emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects.


4. If you drive and your car isn’t eco-friendly, rent a hybrid or electric vehicle, which use less fuel and produce less carbon emissions than gas-guzzlers.


5. If you have the time, traveling via bus, train, or ship generally has less environmental impact.


Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge, Costa Rica

Casa Corcovado, Which Earned 5-Leaf Sustainability Rating from Costa Rica



6. When traveling in the U.S., check to see if the hotel has LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which judges on sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, material selection, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design.


7. Look for seals of approval from other certification programs, such as EarthCheck (Australia), Green Globe, Rainforest Alliance (Latin America, Caribbean), and Green Tourism Business Scheme (UK).


8. Ask if the hotel has a recycling program. If not, encourage them to start one.


9. Look into the hotel’s sustainability initiatives, such as solar power, wind turbines, rainwater harvesting, energy-efficient lighting, and low-flow toilets.


10. Find out what percentage of the hotel’s resources is local. Do they hire local staff? Do they get most of their foods locally? Do they use locally sourced materials in the décor? Companies that utilize indigenous resources tend to be more sustainable, as they’re investing in the local economy.



Screw's Sulphur Spa in Dominica

Mary Showers at Screw’s Sulphur Spa in Dominica



11. Take a BPA-free water bottle you can refill over and over again.


12. Take showers, not baths. Showers use just 10-25 gallons of water, while baths use up to 70 gallons. Feeling frisky? Shower with a friend and save even more water!


13. Take shorter showers, turning water off while you lather up, shave, and/or brush your teeth.


14. Never use hotel laundry, as they typically wash every guest’s clothes separately (even when there are only a few items).


15. Hang towels after each use, which is the universal sign that you’d like to use them again.



Riding Bikes Around Central Park, New York City

Mary & Alex Riding Bikes Around Central Park



16. When you leave your room, turn off all lights, heat/AC, and television.


17. Leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door for the duration of your stay, which cuts down on chemical cleansing agents, electricity used in vacuuming, and the washing of bed linens.


18. Walk, bike or use public transportation to get around whenever possible, which cuts down on gas usage and saves money.


19. Return maps, brochures and other tourist info once you’re finished with them.


20. Take any leftover soap, shampoo, or toothpaste with you. Unused portions are often thrown away, and you can reuse the plastic bottles in the future.

Greg's Safaris Hiking in the Rainforest of St Kitts

Hiking in the Rainforest of St Kitts



21. Marked trails are there for a reason. Stick to the path to avoid harming native flora.


22. Bring along a small bag and pick up any trash you spot along your hike.


23. Never feed wildlife, for any reason. Feeding animals makes them habituated to and reliant on humans, and often leads to attacks (and subsequent death for the animal).


24. Research weather conditions and terrain before hiking. You don’t want to be that guy (or girl) who got lost and required a ranger rescue, which drains resources.


25. Keep a respectful distance from wildlife. Yes, we understand you want to Instagram your encounter with a grizzly. But if you’re close enough to attract an animal’s attention, you’re too damn close!



Shopping From Ribereños in the Peruvian Amazon

Shopping From Ribereños in the Peruvian Amazon with International Expeditions



26. Buy locally made products, rather than those that have been imported. Items that are flown or shipped in have a much larger carbon footprint, and who wants a souvenir from an Asian assembly line?


27. Don’t buy anything made from endangered plants/animals, unsustainable hardwoods, or ancient artifacts. Not only is it wrong, but you probably won’t be able to get them through customs.


28. Take your own reusable bag. Plastic bags are SO 20th century…


29. Seek out indigenous artisans. When you buy directly from an artist, you’re not only helping them feed their family, but in many cases you’re helping to preserve their culture.


30. Do not buy souvenir photos from anyone exploiting wildlife, such as the famous performing elephants of Thailand.


Exploring the Galapagos Islands With Ecoventura

Exploring the Galapagos Islands With Ecoventura



31. Travel with small group tour operators, which tend to have less of an environmental impact. Membership in an organization like The International Ecotourism Society is a good sign that the tour operator tries to conduct itself in a responsible, sustainable manner.


32. When snorkeling or Scuba diving, don’t touch/step on the coral or stir up sediment, as it can damage the reef’s fragile ecosystem.


33. Ask snorkel/dive operators if they chum the water. Doing so can change the behavior of marine species, or possibly make them sick.


34. Find out how the tour operator gives back to the local community. Do they lease the land from locals? Do they hire local guides? Do they take a leading role in preserving the area’s natural resources?


35. Don’t take any tour that promises hands-on encounters with wild animals, such as riding elephants or walking with tigers. If you do, you’re supporting an industry that illegally captures, transports, and abuses millions of animals each year.


Sunset Over Wadi Rum, Jordan

Sunset Over Wadi Rum with New Friends Ali and Hassan



36. Honor local customs. Do a little research to learn about the local cultural traditions, so that you can speak and behave appropriately.


37. Ask for permission before taking a photo of someone. In some cultures, taking a person’s picture is like stealing their soul.


38. Learn the language. You don’t have to do a full Rosetta Stone course. But you’d be amazed by how knowing simple phrases such as “Thank you,” “My name is” and “Please help me” will impact the way locals will treat you.


39. Give back. Whether you sign up for a full-on voluntourism vacation or work with a non-profit like Pack For A Purpose to provide much-needed supplies, it doesn’t take a lot of extra effort to make a huge difference in the local community when you travel.


40. Immerse yourself in local culture. Half the fun of traveling is getting an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and try different foods, listen to different music, and explore different cultures. Don’t be that guy who goes to India and insists on ordering a hamburger.  Bret Love; photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett


If you enjoyed our epic list of Green Travel Tips, you might also like:

GO GREEN TIP #101: How To Choose A Responsible Scuba Diving Operator

GO GREEN TIP #96: How To Choose a Green Hotel

GO GREEN TIP #82: The Green Way to Organize Your Home

GO GREEN TIP #66: Spring Green Your Home

What is an Eco Lodge? A Guide to “Green” Accommodations

Easy Ecotourism: 10 Simple Steps to More Sustainable Travel

The Benefits of Ecotourism: 20 Travel Bloggers on the Importance of Nature Travel

The Beauty of Nature Travel: A Blog Round-Up


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Destinations We’ve Covered:

Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Madagascar- Ring-tailed Lemurs at Anja Reserve
Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
Borneo- Sabah Ecotourism Attractions
India- Ranthambhore National Park
India- Tibetan Culture In Ladakh
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Malaysia- Orangutan Conservation at Sepilok
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
Australia-Maria Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Photo Gallery
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities


Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

America’s Best Volcanoes
AL- Fishing Mobile Bay
AL- Mobile Carnival Museum
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
FL- Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
HI - Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions
LA- Lafayette Cajun Food Tour
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
LA- Voodoo Museum
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Asheville's Top Ecotourism Attractions
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
TX- Sea Turtle Rescue, South Padre Island
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Cancun- Swimming with Whale Sharks
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba