How to: travel in an eco friendly way

Gabrielle Koster

Do you love to travel, just like me? But do you like to travel as conscious as possible without having to spend your summers on the camping site nearby? I’ve got some tips for you!

Travel together

If you’re traveling abroad and you find yourself on, for example, the airport and need a ride to the centre, big chance there are more travelers wanting the same. When I travel, I usually ask people if they need to get to the centre as well and if they would like to share a cab. There are also tons of websites and apps that allow you to share a ride somewhere, like BlaBlaCar. I once joined a party of two traveling from Germany to Holland: it’s better for the environment, saves money and you get to meet new people!

Look for eco friendly hotels/resorts/campings

When I was traveling through Southeast Asia, there were lots of eco conscious resorts and hotels. For example, I was staying in Khao Sok in a cabin that was part of an eco friendly resort. They had big cans of water in the room, to prevent the use of small water bottles by the guests and they donated money to eco conscious projects in the neighborhood. There are also a lot of eco conscious (yoga) retreats. For example, I was staying in a yoga retreat in the mountains of Italy and they had filtered tap water and asked the guests to recycle their waste. But there are also cool eco conscious places to be found on Airbnb, like the Bali Hut on Big Island, Hawai’i where the owner (Louisa) collects and filters her own rainwater, gets energy from solar panels and recycles all her waste.


Talking about water: you can’t drink the tap water in most countries. I personally like to bring my BPA free water bottle and buy big trunks of water to fill it with. It saves a lot of plastic.

Limit flying

This is perhaps the most difficult and annoying one. Because how do you get to all those exciting places without using an airplane? Make sure you limit your use of airplanes as much as you can. If you do fly, make sure you choose an airline that provides so-called carbon offsets. The airline calculates how much emission you have caused by your trip, turns it into cash and donates it to agencies that plant trees for example. Isn’t that cool?

Next to that, it’s better for the environment if you book a direct flight without layovers. Taking off and landing again, really increase the emission of carbon dioxide.

Public transport is, obviously, the best way to travel eco friendly. So if you can: take the train. To Antwerp, Berlin, Paris of even further. But also if you travel within a country, you can take night trains in most places. And you don’t have to arrange a hotel for that night, which saves money. Win-win!

Rent a bike

Who doesn’t like to explore a city or village on a bike instead of behind the window of a taxi? There are so many places in which you can rent bikes (from Barcelona to Bangkok) or you can book a bike tour.

Holidays in your own country

Right after I came back from a trip abroad in May, I booked a night in a tree house in Drenthe, The Netherlands (my country). I took my bike in the train (which passed the beautiful Oostvaardersplassen!) and travelled on my bike to the tree house. On my way over there, I found myself constantly thinking: wow, this country is beautiful! Your own country probably isn’t as exotic as countries overseas are, but it can be mind blowing as well. Besides: there are probably cool places to book an overnight stay as well, like a tree hut or a glamping tent. I highly recommend doing this!

Rent a hybrid car

If you rent a car, choose a hybrid one. Or choose a small, fuel efficient car.

Shop at the local (farmers) markets

Time for a snack? How about some fruits from the local (farmers) market? Bring your own picnic cloth and visit the park or beach with your own (cotton!) bag filled with fruits and other goods.

Bring your own bag

In The Netherlands, most of the people are used to bringing their own bags when grocery shopping. But don’t forget that (cotton) bag when you go abroad. Whenever you do groceries (on that farmers market, for example) you can bring them in your own bag instead of in a plastic one.

Use chemical free sunscreen

A chemical in sunscreen is contributing to the destruction of the coral reefs. Which chemical? It’s called oxybenzone and it’s found in most sunscreens. “Contamination and Toxicology found that the chemical oxybenzone has toxic effects on young coral that causes endocrine disruption, DNA damage and death of coral, among other the problems. Oxybenzone also exacerbates coral bleaching, a process by which coral reject symbiotic organisms and lose their color. Bleaching has been particularly prevalent in recent years due to rising sea temperatures” – according to Time Magazine.

So while you’re stil enjoying the beautiful reefs and the oceans inhabitants, those beautiful corals might be gone in a few years because of the toxics that enter the water via your sunscreen. Currently, somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 tons of sunscreen enters coral reef areas around the world each year, according to the U.S. National Park Service. Auch, that’s a lot, isn’t it? Learn more.

What is your ultimate tip for traveling in a conscious way?