How to Travel without Leaving the Footprint of a Waste Monster

It can be challenging trying to be an eco-traveler, especially when you carry everything you own in a single bag. But conscience traveling doesn’t have to be heavy, complicated or time consuming.

By: Alyssa + Hannah ODYSEA
November 24, 2016

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Simple everyday things can make a difference to the local environment, the country you’re visiting and ultimately your budget.

I personally know it can be challenging in certain countries. Often in Mexico the taquaria's serve your food on a plate wrapped in a plastic bag to save them dishes. So sometimes it’s unavoidable, but even by changing small habits in your everyday travels can have a positive impact.

Here’s a few things we do to help reduce our environmental impact when traveling:

  • TRAVEL WITH A REUSABLE DRINK BOTTLE. Even in countries where you can’t drink water from the tap, you can always find a refill station somewhere between your hostel, a restaurant or cafe. My stainless steel Frida Kahlo bottle hasn't left my side for the past 6 months. Frida is a great travel companion, especially in Mexico!

  • Learn how to say “NO PLASTIC BAG & STRAW” in the relevant language- 2 things that can be super harmful to our environment but are so easily avoided. There are lots of countries that are yet to comprehend the damage of the plastic bag and use them like they are going out of fashion.

  • CARRY A HANDBAG that is big enough to fit all your daily items and any new purchases in. Plus you can carry around your drink bottle, ensuring you will always keep hydrated and don’t need to carry a big goofy 1L plastic bottle (which add up money-wise when you have to buy daily).

  • SHOP LOCAL for fresh fruit and veg rather than at the large supermarkets. This also goes with souvenirs, buy from the local artisans and craftsmen. You'll most-often get a better deal too. Always support local businesses where ever in the world you are! 

  • TAKE ECO-FRIENDLY TRANSPORTATION. Walking and biking gives you a good feel for a place and it's culture. Also not to be forgotten, it helps keep you fit on the road after a few too many tacos! If you need to travel further, take public transportation like a bus, train or boat as all of these often are far more eco-friendly than flying (and kinder on the budget!).

  • IF YOU CAN'T AVOID FLYING (which is often the case), book a non-stop flight rather than catching multiple flights to reduce the amount of carbon emissions.

  • SAVE ENERGY & WATER by simply turning off lights, A/C, heaters and unplug chargers when you’re not there. Save water by having short showers or showering together! All the habits that you have at home to save on your energy bill, continue overseas. 

  • DON’T SUPPORT THE WILDLIFE TRADE. It’s never okay to buy souvenirs carved from elephant tusks, dried sea stars or fur. This also goes for getting photos with animals on the streets. That cute little monkey wearing a diaper and smoking a cigarette doesn’t belong on the street getting photos with tourists. Unfortunately, this is all too common in many third world countries. By giving your money, it's giving your stamp of approval. Don’t encourage the horrible treatment of animals. 

  • DON'T EVER VISIT A DOLPHIN PARK. Swimming with captive dolphins is a form of animal torture. Intelligent creatures who have a sense of self and have strong family bonds can’t afford to be kept in a concrete tank. Picture your life spent going from one bath to another bath, away from your family, only occasionally seeing friends and being starved of food. Well this is how they live their lives after the are brutally separated from their family in the wild and flown across the world to be used for human entertainment.

  • BOOK WITH ECO-FRIENDLY TOUR COMPANIES. Don't go on tours that promote hands on animal encounters such as riding elephants in Bali or petting tigers in Thailand.

Super simple stuff that you can do every day while traveling with little effort.. But makes all the difference!

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.