10 easy tips to be a sustainable traveler in 2019

Tips to be a sustainable Traveler

Responsible travel means having a positive impact on the place and the people you visit.

Rethinking the way you travel, preserving the environment, respecting cultures and practicing tourism that benefits the local economy.

To show you that being eco-friendly when you travel  is easy, we’ve compiled our ultimate tips for being a sustainable traveler in 2019 and beyond.

1. Rethinking your journey

Travel is an essential part of the carbon footprint of our trips. The first eco-friendly action to adopt is to reconsider the way you travel to your holiday destination, but also when you are there.

CO2 emissions per transport mode

Kilos of CO2 emitted for a 500 Km trip

Three ways to rethink your travel plans:

  • Favor cleaner or shared transport:

Whenever possible, use the mode of transport that emits the least CO2. If you can’t sail or cycle around the world, choose the train, which is a much cleaner alternative to flying. If the road is your only alternative, consider carpooling solutions.

  • Opt for a direct flight, more expensive but cleaner:

When flying is the only option, choose the most direct flight to your destination. Indeed, carbon emissions are much higher at takeoff and landing.  You can also choose an airline that offers a carbon offset program or by offsetting your flight’s footprint yourself.

  • Take time to discover:

To explore your holiday destination in an eco-friendly way, choose clean transport modes. Public transport, cycling, scooters, or car sharing, there are many solutions, and they are developing in all major cities.

Even cleaner, do like many slow travelers and walk around the area. The best way for us to discover a city or village and discover its secret gems.

2. Travel light and waste free


The problem of plastic pollution has been on the front page for months.

We’re not going to tell you that being a zero waste traveler is the only option…but if you have adopted a zero-waste lifestyle at home, take it on vacation with you.

zero waste travel

Three simple steps to limit waste when traveling:

  • Opt for a lightweight suitcase

The weight of your luggage also affects the CO2 footprint of your flight. So before you leave, go to the essentials and be minimal. Just because you are allowed 20 kg of luggage does not mean you have to take it with you.

  • Say no to disposable products

Recyclable does not necessarily mean recycled, so the best option is to avoid using single-use plastic.

In practice:

  • Don’t forget to sort:

Whenever you can, participate in the garbage sorting. If your hotel does not offer this possibility in your room, always ask, they will certainly agree to help you.

3. Consume local

eat local

Sustainable tourism is also tourism that benefits the economic development of a region and its inhabitants. Consuming local is part of the basic steps.

  • Eat local

Choose to buy and consume seasonal products from local producers. Markets are one of the best places to visit to discover the specialties of a region or a foreign country. In restaurants, it’s the same thing, focus on eco-friendly restaurants.

  • Buy real souvenirs

When buying souvenirs, make sure that the products you buy promote local craftsmanship and that they are really produced in the country, you are visiting. A silk skirt made in China should only be bought in China.

  • Pay the right price

If you are on a market, and you want to negotiate the price, if it is in the culture of the country, you should, but don’t be too strict in your negotiations. If you don’t pay the right price, you’re not supporting the economy or the people who worked to make the product you buy.

4. Protect nature and landscapes

In each country visited, the basis is to respect the natural biodiversity of the sites. In short, take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.

preserve biodiversity

What are the responsible actions to adopt to preserve biodiversity?

  • Follow the marked paths:

When hiking, only walk on the trails intended for walkers, do not walk and do not damage nature that could be protected or threatened. Even for the beauty of your instagram feed!

  •  Protect corals :

Corals are particularly sensitive to human activity and mass tourism practices have destroyed some of the reefs on our planet. Be a responsible surfer, an eco-friendly snorkeller or a respectful swimmer. Do not touch corals and use mineral sun creams to protect yourself from the sun.

  • only collect waste:

Shells, pebbles, and sand form the ecosystem of our coastlines. Taking shells, bringing back sand, or stones, is harmful and weakens this ecosystem. Some countries have stringent regulations, and you risk hefty fines if you leave with souvenirs from nature in your bag. On the other hand, if you come across microparticles, fishing nets or other plastic waste, enjoy yourself, pick them up!

 5. Use resources efficiently

be efficient with resources on holiday

The most obvious actions may be more important than you think when you are in a country with limited natural resources.

  • Bring your good habits with you:

Someone said, it’s not a small gesture if there are billions of us doing it. So keep your good habits on holiday. Like switching off water when you brush your teeth, use the washing water from your vegetables to water a plant, or any other good habit you know.

  • Participate in reducing the use of detergents in your accommodation

No, a hotel is not eco-friendly just because they tell you to reuse your towel. However, it would still be a shame not to participate in reducing the consumption of water and detergent in your accommodation because you think it’s green bashing. And while you’re at it, you can also refuse daily cleaning.

  • like air con’ sparingly.

Not all accommodations have invested in smart systems, such as air conditioning that automatically turns off when windows are open, or lights that turn off when you are away. So adopt an eco-friendly attitude to save energy resources. In short, as you would at home.

6.Respect people

travel enjoy respect

Being a responsible traveller also means respecting human rights.

You will probably be more confronted with it in developing economies.

  • Do not encourage the employment or exploitation of children or begging
  •  Contribute in a different way

Do not give gifts to children. While this may seem like a nice gesture, it is not a virtuous action and can sometimes create conflicts within the community you are visiting. If you want to help local communities, always go through recognized and trustworthy official organizations and ask them what they need before you leave.

7. Be an informed traveler

The beauty of travel is also the richness offered by encounters with other cultures.

When planning to travel abroad, familiarize yourself with the culture and traditions of the country you will be visiting.

  • Learn before you leave:

Learn about do’s and don’ts and, when you’re there, make sure you respect them. In some countries, holding hands on the street or kissing in public can be very offensive or some signs may not mean the same thing, whether you are on one side of the world or the other.

  • facilitate conversations with the locals:

Learn to say hello, goodbye and thank you, to show your hosts that you are ready to learn from them.It will bring pride to your hosts and they will be even happier to communicate with you.

8. Respect animals

Observing the animals in their natural habitat, what a great experience. And animal tourism is increasingly popular.

ethical wildlife watching

  • Practice ethical wildlife encounters

Avoid any close contact with animals and prefer excursions where you can see them in the wild. Ban all activities where animals are trained, kept in captivity or even mistreated. They are numerous and 80% of travelers are unaware that they sometimes visit places that abuse or encourage cruelty to animals. So check before you leave. To go further, rediscover our article on ethical animal tourism

  • Encourage places that safeguard endangered species:

Visiting sanctuaries for endangered animals can be an excellent experience. Not only are you involved in species rehabilitation, but it’s also a great way to learn more about the diversity of wildlife in the area you visit.

9. Opt for ethical excursions

When you go on an excursion, make sure that the organizer has a sustainable and ethical way of working and promotes local employment.

Abroad, do not encourage tourist tours that exploit populations from “tribes”. Some can be far from being authentic; people are often disguised, exploited and underpaid for the sole purpose of entertaining tourists.

Wherever you are in the world, if you can, take a guided tour with someone from the region: you will get authentic information and stories during your visit.

10. Sleep green

ecofriendly hotels

More and more actors in the hospitality industry are sustainable and have many eco-friendly characteristics. And none of them will ask you to compromise on your comfort.

Whether certified by an official environmental label or not, many options can be beautiful experiences that match the way you want to travel. And the icing on the cake is that Holiable can help you find them.

11. Be a responsible travelgrammer

be a responsible instagrammer

It’s probably the social media that travelers appreciate the most. An inspiration tool for some, a promotion tool for others, in 2019, we can’t help but put a bonus in our list of tips for being a sustainable traveler.

  • respect the places even for the like.

Respecting the environment, biodiversity, animals, in the race for likes some people forget it quite quickly. Thus, places steeped in history, such as Auschwitz, had to call to order the ig’ers that were striking a pose on the rails, some tulip producers in The Netherlands had to create spaces reserved for selfies to protect their fields.

  • keep your hidden gems secret

A responsible iger is an iger that does not geolocalize. Prefer putting a general location, rather than the exact coordinates of the place you are visiting;

Why can geolocation be harmful?

– Some destinations in France, the United States and Iceland were instantly hit by uncontrollable flows of visitors following the publication of certain places. So avoid participating in the development of mass tourism in areas that are not prepared to manage them.

– Animal poaching is a practice that is still ongoing in 2019. So wherever you are in the world, if a species is threatened, geolocation data in your photos, or on your feed could help malicious people. This is particularly true in Africa, especially with rhinos, and it is for this reason, if you followed our stay in South Africa on social media, that we chose not to share the photos of those we had the chance to observe.

Need a recap?

Here’a recap of our 10 tips to be a sustainable traveler


How about you ? What’s your best tip to be a sustainable traveler? Come discuss it in the comments.

Holiable is an eco-friendly travel planner helping you find sustainable hotels, green restaurants and ethical tourism activities around the world. Holiable was developed to share experiences, advice and reviews on sustainable travel, making it easier to prepare your next eco-friendly holiday.
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