5 ways you can be a more sustainable traveller

Chris Gill December 12, 2017
5 Ways You Can Be A More Sustainable Traveller

Last updated: February 6th 2019

Leave the world a better place – that’s all we want to do, right?

Overseas travel can be one of the largest footprints you leave on this earth, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve covered how you can better yourself on the road, now it’s time to cover an equally as important travel guide: what tactics you can use to better the planet when travelling.

Avoid the train and travel by land

Location-dependent and situational, of course. But a trip by land or water as opposed to a large jet is the way to go if you’re sustainability conscious on your travels.

Rome2Rio is an incredible resource that does all the hard work for you. Simply type in where you are and where it is you’re going, and not only will they find the best route by bus, but also by train, ferry and ride-sharing. Think of all the adventures to be had when not confined to the aisle seat at the back of the plane.

Opt to drive instead of fly

Carbon offset when you do fly

Sometimes, as above, air travel is unavoidable. Flying with an airline that cares about their carbon footprint is the next best thing. Virgin Australia offers a number of programs that ensure they’re doing the least amount of damage to our planet – even when flying big fuelled-up planes around the world. Check out their info on Renewable Jet Fuel and their Carbon Offset Program for starters.

Carbon offset when you fly

Do as you would at home

Just because you’re on someone else’s land, it doesn’t mean you can just kick your shoes off and stop positively impacting society.

Yes, you’re on holiday – so relax. But also, take the time to be conscious about where your next meal comes from, how much meat you’re consuming (like at home, try Meatless Mondays while on the road) and turn to plastic alternatives when purchasing goods and takeaway meals.

It’s often easy to simply forget the way we would approach food and the environment when on our own turf, but by staying mindful overseas, you can ensure you lessen your carbon footprint – even when away from home.

Try Meatless Mondays

Volunteer sustainably (i.e. don’t destroy local communities)

Unknown to most, voluntourism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, you’ll have a wonderful experience. Yes, you’ll get an insight into how another culture works. And yes, you’ll get to work. But the impact of the local community might be more detrimental than you think.

But there is good news for all the kind-hearted folk who want to play a part in making better communities all round the globe. Sustainable volunteering is possible. Research is crucial.

Ask yourself:

  • Does my trip provider protect and support wildlife?
  • Are some of (or all) of the profits invested back into the local community?
  • Are local guides employed on the tours?

When digging deep, find a program that matches your skills with the work you will be doing (meaning no labouring if you’re not a labourer -- win!). Be cautious about ‘tours’ that involve children and orphanages (it’s not a sightseeing tour!).

Most of all, be grateful when travelling to places and meeting people less fortunate than you are. Your kind heart will be appreciated, wherever you are in the world. Check out the World Youth website for more details.

Volunteer Sustainability

Invest in the local economy

Instead of saying ‘don’t’, here’s what you can ‘do’ when visiting local communities and environments:

  • Invest in traditional handicrafts, instead of ‘tacky’ souvenirs, to help protect the local culture. Many of your souvenirs may have been imported from elsewhere.
  • Go out of your way to avoid Western-style foods and give street vendors a try.
  • Spend more time in each place and immerse yourself in the day-to-day life.
  • Give to local organisations, rather than children on the street, as this ensures that this will go directly to social welfare programs.
Invest in the local economy


There’s always a better way to travel the world. Just remember to always stay mindful and try to walk with a softer footprint, wherever you may be.

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