Easy Eco-Friendly Travel Hacks To Be a More Sustainable Traveler

Easy Eco-Friendly Tips To Start Traveling More Sustainably

As an avid traveler, I’m always looking for ways to reduce my carbon footprint. Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid all the negative impacts caused by traveling. However, there are ways to become a more eco-friendly traveler by making some simple changes! To help make a positive impact, I’ve listed 8 ways to help reduce your footprint and create more eco-friendly travel habits!

There are a lot of benefits of sustainable tourism, including reduced pollution and protection of wildlife!

Þingvellir National Park in Iceland's Golden Circle
Þingvellir National Park in Iceland’s Golden Circle

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Eco-Friendly Travel Products

After years of travel, I have found products that not only make my life easier when I travel but are also eco-friendly! Overall these items should not break the bank and reduce some of your environmental impacts.

Shampoo & Conditioning Bar

A dear travel friend had been raving about shampoo and conditioning bars. Until a year ago, I had never heard of one! Now, my lush shampoo and conditioning bar is by far my favorite toiletry. I’ve been using them for over a year, and I absolutely love them!

These bars help reduce plastic waste, use more sustainable ingredients, and take up less space in my bag. On top of that, it also eliminates all worries about having unwanted liquid leaks!  I’ve tried the  Godiva, Seanik, and Jumping Juniper shampoo bars.

I have thin oily hair and have found the Jumping Juniper to work best for me. The other two are also great for oily hair, however, they were a little too clarifying for me, making my hair a little dry.

And for conditioner, I have been using American cream for about 3 months and like it thus far! These bars last forever, which is another reason why I love them!

Lush Shampoo bars
Screenshot from Lush’s website

Reusable Water Bottles & Filters

Reusable water bottles such as Lifestraw or a Steripen help reduce waste and can even save you money. In a lot of developing countries, there is a lack of clean water, consequently making single-use water bottle consumption rise.

Many developing countries do not have the proper infrastructure in place to recycle. This leads to locals resorting to burning all the waste. If they do have landfills, many times they still don’t have recycling facilities. This small change can reduce over 10 water bottles in one trip.

Reusable Coffee Mugs

Another area you can make an eco-friendly travel choice is in the coffee/tea department! Reusable mugs can help reduce plastic waste while still letting you enjoy your favorite beverages! I have a Contigo and I love it for keeping my beverages hot!

Reusable Shopping Bags

This is one of the easiest eco-friendly travel tips to implement! You might even have reusable shopping bags lying around the house from an event you once went to. We pack reusable bags for dirty clothes, separating shoes, and shopping. They take up almost no space and are easy to implement! I also keep them in the trunk of my car in case I go shopping.

Coral Reef Safe Sunscreen

Coral reefs have been dying at an alarming rate. Some contributing factors are polluted water, warming water temperatures, and uninformed tourism. Using coral reef-safe sunscreen is a great alternative to traditional sunscreens.

Traditional sunscreens tend to have chemicals such as oxybenzone. Such chemicals decrease the reef’s defense against being bleached.

Some additional ways to help reduce your impact on the health of our oceans are to:

  1. Keep from touching or stepping on corals
  2. Use companies that promote sustainable snorkeling and diving
  3. Avoid buying coral and other marine items as souvenirs
  4. Avoid anchoring on coral reefs.

The two sunscreens I like to use are Blue Lizard Australian Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30 and Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Moisturizer.

Crystal Bay Nusa Penida Coral
Crystal Bay Nusa Penida Coral

Reusable Straws and Utensils

Reusable straws and Utensils are another way you can help combat single-use plastics and make traveling a little greener! There are lots of reusable straw options from glass, metal, silicone, and more. Utensils get a lot of good use on the plane by not having to use the throw-away plastic ones they give you!

Reusable Travel Toiletry Containers

If you must pack liquids, instead of always buying travel size, think about just getting reusable toiletry containers! I use these for my lotion sometimes.

Solid Toothpaste

Have you ever heard of solid toothpaste? Neither did I until recently! To be honest, it’s not my favorite eco-friendly travel product just because it’s still a weird concept to bite down on what seems like a mint. I guess I am just more used to old-fashioned toothpaste, but I’d much rather travel with the solid tabs!

I’ve now tried both Lush’s and a company called Bite Toothpaste Bits. I think they are both very similar, but I like that Bite Toothpaste Bits come in a glass jar as opposed to Lushes plastic packaging.

Sustainable Animal Tourism

Choosing companies that promote sustainable animal tourism is a great way to encourage eco-friendly travel. For example, companies that promote riding elephants, playing with tigers, or animal circuses should be avoided!

If you want to interact with animals, look for sanctuaries or tours where the animals are in their natural environment with minimal interactions.

Always make sure to do your research when animals are involved. In 2018, I volunteered with Asian Elephants in Thailand. I did extensive research before choosing a company.

Volunteering with Elephants in Thailand
Asian elephants eating at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary


When possible, try to reduce flying as much as you can. Looking at other transportation options in your area is an effective way to do this. When available, use resources such as, trains, buses, or carpooling to help reduce emissions!

When traveling around the city, consider walking or renting bikes! In my opinion, walking is one of the best ways to explore a new place!

train to get to Sorrento. Taking public transportation helps promote eco-friendly travel
Taking the train to get to Sorrento from Rome

Packing Light

When traveling by plane, try to pack light. The heavier a plane is, the more fuel it burns. It can also save you some extra money by not having to pay overweight baggage fees! After our 2 month trip across Europe and Asia, we promised ourselves we would never over-pack again! Now We usually travel with 1 carry-on and 1 backpack each!

Packing lighter will help you travel more eco-friendly
We went to Italy for 10 days with 1 carry-on suitcase and my camera backpack!

Accommodation Sustainability

In recent years more eco-friendly lodging has joined in on promoting sustainable travel. From small boutique hotels to large well-known chain hotels, tons of companies are looking to do their part!

Finding these accommodations could be a little more difficult, however. I always recommend to first start looking at smaller boutique hotels and lodges. These types of accommodations are more likely to support the local people but might come at a higher price.

An easy way to start narrowing down accommodations is to check Tripadvisor’s “Green” option in the Style section. This will not always guarantee a completely “GREEN” accommodation, but it gives you an idea of what’s available in your destination!

After you have narrowed down some choices,  double-check with the hotel website to make sure they are truly a “Green” accommodation!

If you can’t find any sustainable accommodations, or maybe they are outside your budget, there are still plenty of ways to make an impact!

  1. Bring your own toiletries to reduce waste at the hotel. (Shampoo bar, solid soaps, Toothpaste tablets, shower cap, etc.)
  2. Leave a note for housekeeping or put your “Do Not Disturb” sign up to reduce the amount of cleaning for towels and linens.
  3. Reduce air conditioning or heat in the room when possible.
  4. Use your reusable mug/bottle and cutlery set if there are only disposable options at your hotel.
  5. Take shorter showers and try to avoid baths to reduce water consumption.

Shop Local

When traveling, consider shopping at local stores, especially if they are eco-friendly. Spending money at local businesses can bring a significant amount of returns to the local community, increase jobs, and lead the potential for more locals to do the same. Many times, these are also products that are better quality and even personalized!

Eco-Friendly Travel Hacks Wrap-up

If you are already doing one or more of these eco-friendly travel hacks, you rock! The goal is not perfection but progress. Sometimes being more eco-friendly costs money we don’t have, so don’t beat yourself up. Do the best you can with what you can. Together, we can all work for a cleaner and greener Earth for generations to come!

If you found these Eco-Friendly Travel Hacks helpful, I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

eco-friendly travel tips
Photo of author

Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

24 thoughts on “Easy Eco-Friendly Travel Hacks To Be a More Sustainable Traveler”

  1. Okay so if I have to check some boxes I can say I did pretty good. On the shampoo and Conditioner I don’t even bring those. Natural curly hair problems.
    Also need to remember to change the toothpaste!
    Amazing post

  2. Fantastic advice for decreasing our environmental impact. Greatly appreciate this article! Keep it up girl!

  3. I like your tips Sam! I didn’t know about the green section in Tripadvisor, that’s really interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love all these recommendations.
    I have done most of these changes to both my life at home and my travel life already. And I think it is so important to push this message, so thank you!!

  5. This blog is great! I’m always looking at small things I can do to be more sustainable when I travel. I definitely need to get the solid toothpaste 🙂

  6. Great post, Sam, and helpful tips! I completely agree that 100% walking is the best way to explore a city – you find all the hidden gems that way! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Those are some really great ideas..I haven’t heard of solid toothpaste..will check it out .thanks for sharing

  8. Yes! I’m so glad you talk about ethical animal treatment when you travel. And I agree, I like to shop at small, independent stores when I travel to support the local economy. Sustainability isn’t only about the environment but also about the health of communities.

  9. Great post Sam!

    We have tried toothpaste without plastic and it was vile. I honestly couldn’t cope with it at all. I’ll have to try this lush tablet you mention to give that a try.

    Have you ever tried alum crystal to replace antiperspirant? That has been a game changer for me. You just wet the crystal and rub it on your skin. It works really well and saves sooo much plastic.

    • I have not heard about the Alum Crystal! I will have to check it out =) Currently using Toms of Maine natural deodorant but it is in plastic.

  10. I try to utilize all of these tips as well! I also use solid toothpaste tabs from Lush to lessen plastic waste (and less liquids!).

    • That is so amazing, I love hearing that other travelers have the same mindset! I have actually been looking into their toothpaste! Do you like it and which flavor do you use?!

      • I love it! It takes some getting used to (weird flavor at beginning, kind of peroxide-y) but it has an overall nice minty taste. It suds up ALOT once you start brushing and gets the job done. I use “dirty”.
        Lush will supposedly recycle the containers if you return them.


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