How to travel more sustainably

More sustainable travel has become more and more popular as we increase our awareness for the environment.
People are flying less, reducing the amount of plastic they use daily, and pay more attention to the ingredients in the products they consume.

More sustainable travel is not about cutting down on everything and anything, it’s about being mindful what each of us can do to take care of the planet.
So here are some things we do to travel more sustainably; and if you have any more tips, ideas or questions, message us in the comments at the end.

How to travel more sustainably - Contents

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Pinterest cover sustainable travel guide

Getting from A to B - more sustainably

Of course traveling to exotic places is on everyone’s bucket list so flying is the natural choice of transportation.
But there are so many other, more sustainable ways to travel the world!

In Europe, one of the most convenient, inexpensive, non-flying ways to get from A to B is by train. The train network includes multiple high speed international trains taking you to almost any major city over night.
Another great way to discover Europe’s wonderful diversity is by bus. Long-haul buses like FlixBus operate between most larger cities and include WiFi and bathrooms.

Read also: Best apps to plan your trips (coming soon)
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Yellow streetcar driving on a narrow street
high speed train passing through

Once you’re at your destination, taking public transport is one of the most eco-friendly ways to get around. Almost all major cities offer multi-day passes so you can explore the city at your own pace.

Renting bikes or electric scooters is not just a fun way to explore a new city, it also reduces your carbon footprint by more than 50% compared to driving.

Bike rental
Electric scooter

Off-set your carbon footprint to travel more sustainably

Sometimes flying is necessary, we know, so the more sustainable thing we can do is to off-set our carbon footprint.

There are many ways to do that, and we don’t believe one is better than the other, it just depends on how you want to and can care for the planet.
One option is to off-set your flights by paying money to a company that invests it into the environment.
Another way to off-set your carbon footprint is to support companies that support environmental causes, like planting trees for every kilogram of CO2 used.

Eco-friendly products

Using eco-friendly products has become increasingly popular in the past years, and some are especially great for traveling more sustainably.

We use 2 kinds of sustainable products when we travel (and some even when we are at home): products that are made in an ethical and environmentally friendly way, and products that are good for the planet.

Assortment of sustainable travel products standing on countertop
sustainable travel sized cosmetics and body care products

Sustainable clothing

One of my favourite swimwear brands is Underseawear. Their bikinis and bathing suits are made from recycled ocean plastic, ethically produced in Hungary, and shipped in eco-friendly packaging. They donate parts of their profit to safe coral reefs around the world, too.

If you’re walking as much as we do when we’re traveling, having a good pair of sneakers is essential. Our faves from AllBirds are not just good, they’re great! (not sponsored, just in love with their shoes)
It’s like walking on a cloud.

Sustainable shoes grey sneakers

Cosmetics and toiletries - bye bye plastic

Half of the stuff people bring on their trips are toiletries and cosmetics. And that almost always means checked luggage to fit all the shampoo, conditioner, sun screen etc. 

Arrangement of sustainable travel sized body care products in front of green plants
A sustainable shampoo and conditioner bar laying on green plants in a bathroom

Bars instead of liquids

Instead of liquid shampoos, conditioners and soaps we are using bars from Lush instead.
Not only do they NOT count as liquids in hand luggage, they’re also produced with organic materials and have not been tested on animals. 

The shampoo bars last twice as long as regular shampoo and are much better for your hair since they’re made from mostly natural ingredients.

Tip: Get the re-usable tins from Lush to reduce unnecessary packaging.

Even deodorant comes in bar-form these days, cutting out the harmful gases found in standard aerosol deodorants. 

Grouping of sustainable hair and body care products
A sustainable deodorant bar laying on a linen cloth

Clean teeth with tablets

Toothpaste accounts for almost 20 billion tubes globally per year! Let that sink in!

So instead of contributing to this mountain of plastic we decided to use toothpaste tablets instead. Surprisingly many companies make them these days, giving you plenty of options. We use these ones from Lush because it’s a one-stop-shop for us, but Georganics makes toothpaste tablets, too.
The ones from Lush come in a recycled plastic bottle whereas the Georganics ones come in a glass jar and recycled paper box.

Tip: Toothpaste tablets don’t count as liquids, so you’re one step closer to traveling with hand luggage only!

bottle of sustainable toothpaste tablets on bathroom sink
sustainable travel cosmetics and toiletries arranged on a cork boards in front of green plants

Reef friendly sunscreen

We all dream of sunny places to explore and oceans to swim in, all while protecting the environment.
As the average human goes through about 2,5 liters of suncreen on a sunny 2 week trip, reef friendly sunscreen has become more popular every year. It’s just the more sustainable way to travel!

Tip: stay away from suncreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate in them. Those are the ingredients that encourage coral bleaching, meaning they die.

how toxic is your sunscreen graphic to travel more sustainably

Clean ears with bamboo

A few years ago, a heartbreaking photo went viral of a seahorse clinging on to a cotton swab in the ocean.
Cotton swabs may look harmless but they are harmful to the environment because they are made up almost entirely of plastic. Luckily, Europe has agreed to ban cotton swabs by 2021, but we can all get ahead by using a bamboo alternative.

Sustainable packing tricks to reduce weight

Since unnecessary luggage is not part of how we want to travel, both for convenience and the environment, we found eco-friendly alternatives.

Packing cubes are the holy grail of our strategy (aka cramming as much stuff as possible into what is essentially a large backpack).

You can get fancy packing cubes in all sizes and colours on Amazon, or you can buy the cheaper alternative at your closest IKEA, like us.
These ones come in a pack of 6 in different sizes and help sort everything from small socks and underwear to bigger sweaters and oants.

Flatlay of clothes

Reduce, re-use, recycle

We talked earlier about the amazing bars from Lush, and how they fit perfectly into re-usable tins to bring them onto your trip. You can buy those tins when you purchase the bars, and then keep re-using them indefinetely.

Other great things to re-use instead of wasting single-use products are water bottles, metal or bamboo straws, and bags for grocery shopping (or to take to the beach, up to you).

Tip: A re-usable water bottle can save up to 1460 plastic water bottles a year!

A hand holding a metal reusable water bottle in front of green plants
hand holding a sustainable shampoo bar in front of grey tiles

I hope you liked my tips for traveling more sustainably.
I would love to hear your feedback, comments or questions!

XO, Nadine