How to travel the world (without harming it too much!)

This is a guest post from the 1 Million Women community

Written by Bridget Otto

Easily accessible travel is one of the many benefits of the 21st century. We live in an age where we can cross the globe in hours to reach exotic destinations, something that used to take months. This innovation is certainly liberating, but frequent travel comes with a heavy environmental burden. Luckily with a little pre-departure preparation, finding eco-friendly options has become easier than ever.

Here are a few tips to reduce your individual carbon footprint while travelling:

Choose your flight wisely

Flying is one of the biggest contributors to exponentially increasing your individual carbon footprint. A flight from Sydney to Los Angeles will emit 4.745 tonnes of CO2.

While many airlines now offer a voluntary carbon offset fee, not all of these programs are created equal. Another option would be to look for more fuel efficient airplanes and try to take direct flights (as planes produce the bulk of CO2 during take off and landing). The weight of flights is also a contributing factor as to how much CO2 is released into the atmosphere, so stick to the weight limit when packing your bags.

Read more about the environmental impact of air travel (and how to reduce it)

Pick planet-strong accommodation

Most hotels, hostels and guest houses will include a welcome message and include a mini briefing on how they're trying to reduce their individual footprint. You can do your part as well by remembering to take short showers, use a towel more than once and turn off all lights and appliances when you're out of the room.

Choose your transportation wisely

Walking or cycling is a great way to explore while travelling, and many cities have bike share programs or offer guided cycling tours. When possible, take public transportation over driving and taxis. The bus or train might not be the quickest way from A to B, but it's more efficient for your wallet and the environment. Plus, this is a great way to meet the locals and to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. As a seasoned traveller I can say that I've had some great adventures taking public transportation!

These are the top 10 cycling cities of the world!

Eat local

Eating out is an almost unavoidable component of travelling, but it's also one of the best parts (street markets, anyone?). When you eat local you'll immerse yourself in the culture, support local businesses and reduce your food miles (learn about what these are here). Also try to avoid packaged food because this creates additional waste and many destinations do not have the capacity to handle the extra waste that's generated by travellers.

Drink smart

In some parts of the world it's inevitable that you will need to drink treated water, and a water bottle will be the most convenient source of safe water. Sometimes, however, they'll be options to refill a reusable water bottle from a filter, so always keep your eyes open.

[HOW TO] Plan a waste free road trip


This goes hand in hand with a little pre-departure research, but generally it's a good idea to avoid purchasing animal related products. Look at tags to see where the product was made to ensure that you're getting a locally made product. Or consider a minimalist approach and commit the trip to memory instead of buying a trinket that you don't really need. Studies have shown that an experience will make us happier than a product, so if you're on holiday then you're already getting the good stuff!

Overall, many places are catching onto ecotourism because it not only helps reduce your footprint but it also preserves the place for locals and future visitors. Not all emissions can be offset, but a few guidelines can minimise your individual impact and help the local place you're visiting.

Happy Travels!

Bridget Otto is a recent graduate of International Relations, where she specialised in resource security. In her spare time she can usually be found planning her next adventure.

READ THIS NEXT: Check out some of these other travel hacks to reduce your environmental footprint

What three months of travelling taught me about minimalist living

Images: Shutterstock

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