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Eco-Friendly Vacation: 8 Ways to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Your Next Holiday (2024)

Regardless of where you go or how you get there, every vacation journey leaves a mark on the environment.

According to studies, global tourism is responsible for 8% of overall carbon dioxide emissions – not only from transport but from waste from food production, hotel operations, and shopping.

Don’t worry – these eco-friendly vacation tips will help you make eco-friendly choices on your vacation:

8 Tips for an Eco-friendly Vacation

1. Choose Less Harmful Transport Options

The most environmentally friendly ways to get around are on foot or by bike.

All other methods harm the environment in one way or another. Of course, it’s okay if you are going to fly by plane, ride a train, or drive a car – just keep a few things in mind. For example, you are about to make an unforgettable road trip to the Grand Canyon South Rim and want to rent a car in Las Vegas.

The first step towards eco-friendly travel, in this case, is to select a vehicle with the lowest harmful emissions. Therefore, collecting a Tesla rental in Las Vegas will be the optimal solution for that. 

Indeed, electric car rental makes it possible to travel responsibly and contribute to the preservation of the natural balance.

If you can’t find an electric or hybrid vehicle in a particular location, consider alternative ways to reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Try to plan your route in such a way as to avoid traffic jams and road sections with repairs. This allows you to reduce CO2 emissions during idling. 
  • Don’t load the trunk with unnecessary things – they increase the weight of the car, and this also affects fuel consumption and increases emissions
  • Try to use the air conditioner less – it also increases consumption due to the additional load on the engine.

2. Look for Quieter Destinations 

Overtourism has become a serious problem for top destinations.

Even if everyone cleans up after themselves and treats the local flora and fauna responsibly, a crowd of ten thousand people will definitely harm nature. If you don’t want to contribute to the negative impact of over-tourism, try to avoid famous destinations. 

Instead of planning a trip to the most popular places, why not choose something off the beaten path? Our planet has many beautiful places, so focus on hidden gems rather than world-known destinations.

You will be able to enjoy a holiday without huge crowds, have a more authentic cultural experience, and enjoy a much more original journey. In addition, your visit will make a positive contribution to the economy of these small communities.

eco-friendly vacation - stock image from, canva of a person sitting in a deck chair on an empty beach

3. Book Sustainable Hotels 

Eco-hotels differ from ordinary ones in that their owners care about how they affect nature.

Such hotels initially aim to spend less energy on heating and cooling. Also, their employees sort garbage, recycle water, introduce alternative energy sources, change conventional lamps to LEDs, and pour shampoo into dispensers. These simple steps make it possible to use resources more efficiently.

Like any accommodation, eco-hotels differ in type. It could be a glamping site in the Rocky Mountains, a chain hotel in San Francisco, or a beachfront guesthouse in Miami.

Despite the nature-friendly specialization, you can count on the usual level of comfort in eco-hotels. If you are looking for an eco-friendly hotel, check out its certification. Certificates such as Green Key and LEED confirm the hotel’s commitment to environmental standards.

4. Reduce Plastic Waste 

More than half of the plastic produced annually is single-use plastic. So, think about plastic water bottles, plastic bags, and disposable cutlery brought on a trip.

All these plastic items end up in landfills or even in rivers or the sea. 

Plastic pollution is a big problem, especially when it enters our oceans. According to statistics, between 1.15 and 2.41 million tons of plastics enter the sea every year.

It pollutes the water and harms marine life. It’s the same with plastic that ends up in fields, forests, and on the side of the road. 

Luckily, there’s an easy way to combat this – just avoid single-use plastic. Say no to plastic bags and opt for unpackaged products.

As a last resort, opt for bags made from natural and compostable materials.

Check out this video guide by National Geographic to learn how to eliminate single-use plastics on vacation:

5. Opt for Local Cuisine 

Try to practice a more mindful approach to food, even on vacation. Choose seasonal vegetables and fruits grown in the region you are traveling to.

Firstly, this approach stimulates the local economy, and secondly, it reduces the need to bring food from afar and burn tons of fuel for delivery. 

Thus, we recommend that you have lunch and dinner in cafes with local cuisine, as the products used in their menu come from the same region.

If you are not staying at a hotel but in an apartment and you have the opportunity to cook on your own, it’s better to choose this option. In this case, it will be much easier for you to control food leftovers and product quality, as well as sort garbage.

6. Invest in Local Production 

Tourism brings in a lot of money, and the economy of many countries largely depends on this.

Unfortunately, most of this money disappears into the pockets of large corporations. But there’s a simple solution: spend money on the spot.

As a visitor, you have the choice to support local businesses rather than large corporations and chains. Instead of hoping that your money will gradually enter the local economy, you are investing directly in local businesses. 

eco-friendly vacation - stock image from, canva of a two people trying products in a small boutique-style shop

So, shop at small local stores and hire local guides. You can support local businesses that provide high-quality products, preserve traditional practices, and support the local community.

It may not always be so convenient or cheap, but it provides a huge positive impact. Faster circulation of money in the local economy means more efficient use of money for environmental benefit.

7. Do Not Interfere with Wildlife 

Breaking off a piece of coral, picking a bouquet in a nature reserve, buying a shell of a rare species of turtle, or tasting shark fin soup – people have multiple opportunities to harm natural ecosystems.

Taking care of nature on your eco-friendly vacation is essential:

  • The less we interfere with wildlife, the better. Here are some helpful guidelines to follow while traveling: 
  • Refrain from disturbing the natural habitat of animals. 
  • Don’t buy souvenirs and medicines made from ivory, tusks, shells, skins, and other parts of wild animals. 
  • Don’t order wild meat dishes. 
  • When hiking, camping, or arranging similar outdoor activities, take all rubbish with you so you don’t pollute nature. 

eco-friendly vacation - stock image from, canva of an ocean coral with a plastic bag caught on it

8. Support Environmental Initiatives 

Traveling is a perfect opportunity to get involved in conservation projects. You’ll learn new things about the world, while the money spent will go to a useful cause.

Eco-friendly vacation projects are very different – from eco-friendly hotels and ‘green’ cars to nature reserves and animal centers. The degree of participation also varies. You can simply visit such a place and pay for a ticket or get involved more actively – for example, work as a volunteer. 

So, be part of something big and beautiful now. Say thank you to nature, and it will respond in kind. 

Remember that it’s not necessary to fulfill all possible eco-points, denying yourself the pleasure of rest. It is much better to choose a few options comfortable for you and follow them.

Ecologists say that if a million people introduce a couple of eco-habits into their lives, the effect will be many times greater than from a dozen activists who live as environmentally friendly as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What transport is both convenient and eco-friendly to get around your destination? 

It all depends on the specific conditions and distances. For short trips, get around by cycling or walking. If you are used to longer cruises, take an electric or at least a hybrid rental car that will allow you to get where you want to go with minimal impact on nature. Read the full guide to learn more about eco-friendly transportation on holiday.

How to recognize an eco-friendly hotel? 

A typical eco-hotel uses alternative energy sources and efficiently manages the available resources. Using LED lamps, waste sorting, and water recycling are the most popular eco-directions. The obvious sign of a sustainable hotel is Green Key and LEED certificates. Read the full guide to learn more about eco-friendly holiday accommodation.

What are the measures to reduce the use of plastic on a trip? 

First, take a reusable bottle with you. Second, reduce the amount of plastic bags you use when shopping. Finally, forget about disposable tableware and drinking straws. Reusable water bottles, coffee travel mugs, and cutlery can drastically reduce your plastic use on holiday, without adding any inconvenience. Reads the full guide for more ways to make your vacation more eco-friendly.

References and Useful Resources

New York Times: How to Travel Sustainably

World Nomads: Tips for Responsible Travel

Washington Post: Planning an Eco-friendly Vacation

CN Traveler: Eco-friendly Travel

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