17 February 2020

How I'm Travelling More Sustainably

How I'm Travelling More Sustainably

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Over the last few years, as the sustainable movement has been on the rise, there has been more and more talk about sustainable travel. People are now looking at every aspect of their lives and thinking about how they can be kinder to the planet, and one of the hardest areas to do that is travel. 

As I was growing up, money wasn't always around for spending on holidays abroad, and from about the age of 12 or 13 onwards we stopped going on family holidays as the purse strings tightened. I wouldn't change my upbringing for the world as it really made me appreciate money when it was there and when I started earning myself, but I did miss out on travelling when I was younger. 

So when it came to thinking about sustainable travel, I knew I didn't want to give exploring new countries abroad completely, as that is something I'm passionate about now I have the funds to go places. 

What exactly is sustainable travel, and how am I introducing it into my holidays and trips? Keep reading to find out...

Jambe Cultural Village
Jambe Cultural Village, Bali


Sustainable travel is essentially reducing the impact your travels may have on the environment, be it on the natural world or on other cultures. 

This can be through how you travel through modes of transport, where you stay, the activities you partake in, and what you pack. 

Luckily, there are loads of different options for going about these issues, so the best way to get your own sustainable travel in motion is to decide what works best for you! Don't feel pressured to feel like you have to be the next Greta Thunberg if you don't want to, it's more important to find your balance. Every little helps, so even if you start by changing just one thing, it will have a positive effect along the line. 

Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall



If flying is the only option to get to my destination, I try to pick an 'eco' flight. These are flights whose aircraft use less CO2 than others and on Skyscanner, they pop up with a little green band around them. Sure, travelling by air is probably the least eco-friendly way to travel, but picking a low-emission flight is a step in the right direction!

Of course, if you can get to your destination by other modes of transport...


If the option is there, I will always pick travelling by train, bus, boat or car over flying I'll do it. When we were backpacking, we found we were able to travel by bus a lot especially when crossing borders in Asia, as well as by boat to some of the smaller islands (even if they did have an airport). 

Sometimes, we had to bite the bullet and book a flight, like when we travelled from Bali to Lombok as the sea in between the two islands were particularly choppy and we thought it safer to not take a boat over. 

Mossy Forest, Malaysia
Mossy Forest, Malaysia


Obviously don't set off on a two-week trek to the south of Spain, but when you're at your destination try and opt to get about by using yourself!

If you're able to get around easily, you might find walking half an hour to an attraction much more enjoyable than hopping in a taxi as you get to explore on the way! You can stop wherever and whenever you like without a driver getting annoyed at you. 

Sure, you might have sore feet at the end of the day, but your body will soon become accustomed to it. 


I've linked these two together as I find they have an impact on both the environment and economy in your destination. 

I'm someone who would much rather go out to eat at different local places rather than eating in the hotel or resort I'm staying at as I like to be as much like a local as possible when I'm travelling. I just find I get to experience the country I'm in better if I'm eating like the locals!

As well as supporting small businesses, I also opt to have a room only as the idea of any left-over food going uneaten and thrown away after each meal sitting at all-inclusive doesn't sit well with me. There might be hotels that use methods to reduce food waste which is obviously a plus, but by eating out I'm helping boost the local economy too. 

Maerim Elephant Sanctuary
Maerim Elephant Sanctuary, Thailand 


It's not just about the actual travelling part when we talk about sustainable travel - it also applies to what you get up to on your holiday!

This is a lot harder to do in some countries as there's not always the info out there to tell you if a tour operator or attraction is sustainable. Tripadvisor (ad-aff) is probably your best friend in these cases, and I've used them a lot over the years when looking up different attractions before booking them. 

This is specifically the case when it comes to animal sanctuaries. On the surface, some may seem like a sanctuary but when you arrive they turn out to be more like a zoo, especially the ones that drug the animals just so people can safely take a photo with them. 

Use your judgement and do your research, and only once you're happy that the attraction is at the level of sustainability that you like, then book it. 


This one is quite specific, but when people go snorkelling or diving it can be so easy to just touch the coral as you float by. Leave it!

Simply touching coral with your bare skin can kill it off as the oil on your skin can break down the membranes that protect them from disease. It's also illegal to remove coral from beaches and you're likely to be stopped at customs if you do try to bring it home with you. 


It can be so easy to grab a load of minis before you go away and as much as we love the convenience of it, think about all that excess plastic being created...

Invest in some refillable bottles and pots, and decant your favourite products into them. That way, you can take them away with you without encouraging single-use plastic, and you'll save money in the process! Win-win. 

Universal Studios, Singapore
Universal Studios, Singapore


Ever since I lived out of a backpack for 5 months, I've become a serial light packer, and now every time I travel I prefer to use hand luggage over hold. I know it can be hard not to try and cram all 30 outfits you have planned into your massive suitcase, because what if you need them all?! 

The benefits of packing light are that you save a good £30 on checking in hold luggage, you get through the airport much quicker as you skip out the queues at check-in and bag drop, and the plane uses up less fuel as it's not carrying as much weight! 

If you get really desperate for clothes or toiletries you can always buy stuff at your destination, and if your accommodation doesn't have a washing machine, hand-washing is just as effective. 


You don't wash your towels or change your sheets at home every day, do you? Then why do we opt for this when we're away?

The amount of time you'll be using your towels or sheets for doesn't make up for how much water is wasted when these are washed so frequently, so if you have the option, try to get them changed less frequently. 

Most hotels I've been to now have a sign in the toilet asking for towels that need changing to be left in a certain place, and I also take a look at the accommodation's website before booking to see what their change policy is. If in doubt, just leave your 'do not disturb' sign on the door until you want them changed!


If you enjoyed these tips on how I travel more sustainably, then do let me know in the comments below!



  1. some great tips here. we camp for our family holidays for now, staying closer to home and less of an impact as well as instilling a love of our natural places in our children.