Sustainable travel starts before you even leave home. It depends on the choices you make for transportation and accommodation. Vacation sustainability means you reduce your impact on the planet, protect wildlife, and support local economies. Here are four tips for having a great travel experience while reducing your carbon footprint.

Father and son kayaking on lake, California, USA. Photo courtesy of

Avoid Flying

If you live in San Francisco and you want to tour Europe for the first time, you can’t avoid flying. But, once you arrive at your destination, there are many things you can do to be eco-friendly such as taking local public transportation, eating at locally-sourced restaurants, and finding accommodation that has sustainable practices.

Flying is the natural enemy of sustainability. One way to avoid flying is to go for slow-travel. This means you visit fewer places and stay longer in each place. Train trips are a great way to see the countryside and reduce your carbon footprint. India, China, Europe, and East Africa have good rail systems that are inexpensive and convenient for visiting many popular tourist destinations.

Explore Camping

Camping has always been and still is one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Designated campsites exist all around the United States and Canada. For example, some of the best campsites in Pennsylvania are in the area near Ricketts Glen State Park in the northeast part of the state. It includes the Falls Trail System that takes you past 17 spectacular waterfalls.

Camping is no longer just for the rugged-minded. Glamping allows you to enjoy the peace and quiet of the wilderness while not forgoing some of the luxuries of life such as a soft mattress or portable kitchen.

There are different styles of glamping starting with deluxe cabins that have private bathrooms and flat-screen TVs. For those who want to be a little closer to nature without full-fledged camping, there are yurts. These are huts made of woven fabric with a domed roof. The design is originally from Mongolia. Native-American Teepees are another popular glamping structure.

For something unusual, especially in Africa, try a safari tent or a treehouse with all the amenities you could want. These are both excellent eco-friendly ways to enjoy nature and wildlife. There are many possibilities, so check out the environmental practices of a few and choose the one that suits your standards.

Avoid Plastic

Plastic is another ubiquitous commodity that pervades just about every area of life. For instance, plastic water bottles are one of the worst items and millions of them fill the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that stretches for thousands of miles. Plastic shopping bags are another great offender. It’s easy to avoid plastic water bottles and bags while on vacation if you start with your own recyclable water bottle and fill it with tap water or other pure drinking water.

You will be offered a plastic bag every time you go shopping even in a local farmer’s market or street of handicraft shops. To avoid plastic bags, find an eco-friendly cloth bag that’s easy to pack that you can keep with you whenever you go out.

Pack Sensibly

A reusable shopping bag and a water bottle are just the beginning. There are more things you can take on your vacation that will reduce your waste production. Collapsible food containers are great for take-out and easy to pack. A bamboo or steel straw and bamboo cutlery will ensure you never have to use plastic.

Using travel toiletries is another way to avoid plastic waste. Consider shampoo bars, tooth tablets, and deodorant paste. These also make it easier if you do have to fly because you don’t have to worry about aerosols or liquids.

Peshtemal towels are large, soft, finely-woven towels that are very light and can be rolled to take up very little space. The uses when traveling are endless. If you fly, you won’t need to use the airline blanket that is wrapped in plastic. A Peshtemal towel can be used as a beach towel, a shawl in cool evenings, and a picnic blanket.

With the increasingly negative impact of tourism on ancient cities, forests, and other popular destinations, sustainability is becoming essential. There is a lot you can do to decrease the impact you have on these places by planning a sustainable vacation.

This post was written by Sheryl Wright

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