The Sustainable Travel Handbook: Easy, Ethical Tips

Our initial plan was to write a book about simple steps, and tips and tricks for a practical and inspiring guide to sustainable travel.

We got as far as designing a cool book cover for a sustainable travel handbook, then then we changed our minds and went in a different direction.

We decided to compile an online guide to the best sustainable travel resources along with a few practical tips from ourselves. It’s a sustainable travel handbook which is more than a practical and inspiring guide, it’s actually sustainable.

Who needs another bulky book in their bag on the road? If you’re on an eco-friendly city break, on a responsible wildlife watching experience, or out to harness culinary tourism, you don’t want to be lugging around 2 lbs. of sustainable travel handbook, do you? We’ll leave that to the folks at Lonely Planet.

sustainable travel guide

This way you can get all the information when you need it on the go and make the smart choices. Whether you’re looking for sacred indigenous culture, ethical tourism, want to explore off the map regions, enjoy sustainable safaris, or whatever, this guide can go with you.

Our Top Tips For Sustainable Travel

Watch Your Means of Transport

Walking is the best form of green travel. Then cycling or skateboarding. Then bus, train, taxi, car, and planes are dead last.

sutainable travel options

Flying should always be a means of last resort and if at all possible – you should offset the carbon emissions your flight makes by planting trees.

Try To Sleep Green

That means looking for hotels and accommodations that have been certified by one of the green certification providers such as STEP or Green Globe.

sleep in a tent

Better still, you could sleep in a tent which is the greenest accommodation of them all.

Pay Attention To The Small Things

  • Try to go paperless wherever possible (note: make sure that an e-copy of documents is acceptable to authorities when it comes to visas) – get everything on your smartphone instead.
  • Try to cut out the plastics and make sure to buy a reusable water bottle at a minimum. Choose wooden sunglasses to stay cool on the road.
  • Take care when you’re in places that are heavily touristed – talk to locals about the best way to reduce your impact.
  • Walk when you get there – again walking beats everything in terms of greenness but it’s also the best way to see a culture and a community.
  • Cut down on cleaning – if your hotel isn’t operating a “place the towels here to get them washed” policy then try hanging out the do not disturb sign to cut down on the number of washes that everything in your room gets. Bring your own organic towel and wash it yourself.
  • Shop local and support local businesses – money you spend with local people tends to go back into the local economy and make it sustainable and self-sufficient, money you spend with big international brands, on the other hand? That tends to head off to wealthy shareholders where it will never be seen by anyone local ever again. You’d be amazed at the wonderful local natural beauty products you can buy in around the world.
  • Try to go zero-waste if your can or at least reduce your waste wherever possible and if you can’t avoid creating waste – try to recycle things for multiple uses before you dispose of them.
sustainable beach travel
Photo by Paige Smock on Reshot

Our 30 Super Sustainable Travel Resources

Blogs, apps, travel companies and books?

We’ve got them all and this guide will help ensure that you always have access to the right data when deciding what to do or where to go.

10 Sustainable Travel Blogs

sustainable travel blogs
  • Green Global Travel. Join Brett and Mary for a look at their life and their business in green travel.
  • Mindful Wanderlust. Cody and Giselle take their vegan lifestyle on the road in a completely ethical fashion.
  • Ethical Traveller. One of the oldest eco-blogs on the internet. Jeff Greenwald provides an amazing resource.
  • Around the World in Eighty Years. Jim is not only ethical, he’s an amazing photographer too.
  • BreatheDreamGo. Mariellen was inspired by travel in India to re-examine her connection to the earth.
  • My Slow Journey. Katarina shows how she puts being present into every aspect of travel.
  • Eco-Traveller Guide. Linda is all about social responsibility and provides an amazing resource to help you.
  • Tammy & Chris on the Move. This is a delightful insight into how voluntourism can give back to the communities most impacted by travel.
  • Every Steph. Stefania is young but committed and it shows on the pages of her site – responsible travel is awesome.
  • Travel for Wildlife. How to see the cutest and most interesting animals in the world while promoting their conservation for future generations.

5 Sustainable Travel Apps

eco travel apps
  • Green Globe – if you want to find sustainable places on your travels while you travel, there’s no better way than with the Green Globe app. The good news is that it’s completely free. They pack in a lot of photographic content to give you a really clear picture of what’s happening on the ground too.
  • Olio. Make sure that wherever you are in the world, there’s no food waste involved. Olio means that if you’re thinking about throwing food (that’s still good to eat) away, you can list on the site and somebody in need of the food will come and take it away and eat, instead. You can’t get much greener than that.
  • Spinlister. Want to travel in the way that has least impact on the earth? Then get on your bike. Literally. This app helps you work out journey lengths, who you can borrow a bike (for free) from and if you want, it can also help you hire snowboards, surfboards and more. This is a really useful app – don’t leave home without it.
  • CityMaps2Go. This is going to save a lot of paper when it comes to carrying printed maps plus, and perhaps most importantly, these maps are luscious and really detailed. If you want to travel to a place and get the most from it, you have to know that place and this is how you get to do that.
  • Tripit. Another paper saver, it collects up all your tickets, receipts, etc. and puts them in a very useful order – you’ll never miss a flight with Tripit installed. It can also be used in conjunction with a bunch of other useful travel apps to extend its functionality even farther.

5 Sustainable Travel Companies You Can Rely On

travel the world
  • Responsible Travel. The name tells you what they’re about and they’ve been in business for almost 20 years now. They have nearly 5,000 options to choose from worldwide and not only do they do eco-travel but they also operate a “give back” program which helps local communities thrive thanks to tourism.
  • And Beyond. This company cares so much about the places they operate in that they built an electrical micro-grid for their camp in Botswana. It is also working on developing sustainable water bottling in the area. If you’re in the mood for a safari, they’re the people to talk to and you won’t get a better view of Africa than in one of their hot air balloons.
  • Kynder. Thee guys break down the eco-leaders in the USA and Europe in the hotel, bar, restaurant sphere and their focus (as their name suggests) is on kindness and not just to the planet but also to each other. Experiences found via Kynder are good for you as well as good for the environment.
  • Earth Changers. Earth Changers is a curated collection of some of the best positive impact sustainable tourism, helping you find & book trips that truly change the world, by connecting you to lodges and tour companies whose operations support sustainable development in destinations. Along with tons of info on the Purpose travel can have, and stories of putting sustainability in practice, the ‘Life-changing Places with World-Changing People for Extraordinary Experiences with Purpose` tagline certainly stacks up for these specialists.
  • Intrepid Travel. This is the largest company in the travel sector to become a B Corp and they’ve got a huge amount of choice when it comes to places to go and things to do. They’re also highly actively involved in 50+ community projects around the globe.

10 Great Sustainable Travel Books To Read

travel and tourism book
  • The Eco Travel Guide. It’s an oldie but still packed to the brim with really useful tips and tricks for minimizing your impact on the planet as you travel.
  • Eco-Travel New Mexico. We hope that this will sell enough copies that other similar guides come out – it’s the best insight into a green view of New Mexico you can get.
  • Wherever You Go: A Guide to Mindful, Sustainable, and Life-Changing Travel. The former CEO of Lonely Planet’s brand-new insights into green travel. An absolute must have.
  • ECO TRAVEL. An interesting sustainable book that you can use to help convert friends and family to eco travel (which is what it’s meant for).
  • Overbooked. Elizabeth Becker really peels back the skin on the travel industry and looks at how tourism can be a powerful force for ill as well as for good and how we might change this.
  • Explore Europe on Foot. Walking is the greenest form of travel of them all and Cassandra Overby challenges you to explore the world using shoe leather as your means of transport.
  • Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die. After walking, cycling’s the next best thing. If you’re looking for inspiring places to ride a bike – this is what you’ve been looking for.
  • The Ethical Travel Guide. It’s not cheap but if you really want to get to grips with ethical travel, Orely Minelli’s guide is an absolute must.
  • Vegan Travel Handbook. Eat well and save the planet. It’s hard to be a vegan at home sometimes and it can be harder still on the road. This book makes it easy.
  • The Sustainable Travel Handbook (coming soon). We’re really excited for this, Lonely Planet will (finally) be doing sustainable travel as of late 2020. Pre-order now!

The Final Destination

You can travel and have a positive impact on the planet and the communities that you visit but it requires mindfulness, dedication, research and care to work out exactly how to do so.

We hope that our sustainable travel resources will get you closer to your objectives as a green traveller.

Planning a vacation? Why not rent an RV, Camper Van or Teardrop Trailer and hit the road next summer!

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