Sustainable Travel Guide

Being a responsible traveler is important when you are a guest in another place. While eco-tourists may travel with the purpose of environmental sustainability, we should all be responsible travelers. This guide is the first in our series on sustainable travel and goes over what sustainable travel is, and why it is important.

What does it mean to be sustainable?

For something to be sustainable, it has to have the ability to last long-term or be sustained. In that sense, something sustainable doesn’t necessarily have to be environmentally friendly or socially responsible, though these are often used interchangeably with sustainability. This is because sustainability often refers to protecting resources to last for generations to come.

More than just protecting resources, sustainability means understanding our own place in relation to the environment, supporting local communities, and safeguarding the way of life for the future.

Environmental sustainability is the practice of reducing our environmental footprint by using resources responsibly and protecting natural habitats. This includes considering water systems, energy use, waste management, air pollution, biodiversity loss, and soil conservation.

What is Sustainable Travel?

Sustainable travel is about being conscious of your actions and how they affect the environment and local communities you travel to. It involves taking responsibility for reducing your environmental footprint, supporting small businesses, and conserving natural resources. It also means making ethical decisions that don’t have a negative impact on the environment or local community.

Traveling more sustainably involves making choices that are good for the planet, people, and animals alike. You can practice sustainable travel by looking at how your travel plans and decisions might impact the places you’re visiting, both in the short term and longer term.

Sustainable tourism can include several aspects which overlap with one another including traveling mindfully, socially responsible tourism, or environmentally friendly travel. While sustainable travel can be done on a budget, it is also possible to travel in an eco-luxury style.

Mindful Travel

Mindful travel almost covers all aspects of sustainable travel as It’s about being aware of your actions. Think about how they might impact the environment and locals, and find ways to make sustainable choices when available. Being mindful as a traveler balances responsible tourism and sustainability – by being careful with the resources we use, shopping sustainably, and hiring ethical companies. 


Eco-tourism focuses on responsible travel that supports local economies while preserving the beauty of nature. By taking part in eco-tourism activities like birdwatching or visiting national parks you can help protect habitats while enjoying the world around you.

Being an environmentally friendly traveler prioritizes environmental protection. Thoughtful practices such as reducing your carbon footprint, supporting biodiversity, and reducing negative impact or waste are a few ways to do this. Appreciate natural environments in a sustainable method through eco-conscious travel.

Aquatic Plants thrive growing on this water filtration system - one of many reasons eco-tourism is so imporant.

Socially Responsible Travel

Socially responsible tourism focuses on understanding our place in relation to locals and their culture when we travel. It involves showing respect for the customs of local people, supporting small businesses, and encouraging cultural exchange by finding ways to give back to the communities you visit.

What is the Difference between Sustainable and Responsible Tourism?

The main difference between sustainable and responsible tourism is that sustainable travel focuses more on conserving resources while trying to reduce environmental impacts, whereas responsible travel looks at how our decisions can support local communities. Both are important for making sustainable choices.

What is the importance of responsible tourism? 

It is essential to ensure our decisions take into account the needs and cultures of local people, and that our activities don’t harm their livelihoods or environment. Taking part in ethical travel practices such as supporting small businesses, avoiding tourist traps, and helping to conserve natural resources are all important for responsible travelers.

Sustainable and responsible travel go hand-in-hand – they both focus on using resources responsibly while reducing harmful impacts on people and the environment. By combining these two concepts you can make more conscious decisions when traveling that have a positive effect on the world around you.

Why is Sustainable Travel Important?

Sustainable travel is important because it allows us to enjoy the world around us while also protecting natural habitats and supporting local communities. It’s about being mindful of how our actions can have a positive or negative impact on the environment and finding ways to reduce our environmental footprint. As a global citizen, you have a responsibility to respect the places you travel to.

The benefits of sustainable tourism include reducing your carbon footprint, preserving biodiversity, supporting locals, avoiding over-tourism in certain areas and conserving resources for future generations.

In 2022, 81% of travelers said that sustainable travel was important to them in this report. Additionally, in the same report, over half (59%) said they wanted to leave the places they visit better than how they found them. Two out of every three travelers (66%) wanted to have experiences that are representative of the local culture.

Therefore, we can conclude that not only is sustainable travel important for the impact it has, but it is also growing in importance to the travel community as well.

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How to travel responsibly and sustainably

There are several steps you can take to ensure your travels are sustainable and responsible. These include making ethical travel decisions such as choosing ethical transport options, shopping sustainably, eating locally produced food wherever possible, and leaving no trace behind.

Make Ethical Travel Decisions

When traveling, it’s important to make ethical decisions that don’t have a negative impact on the environment or local cultures. This includes only visiting destinations where you can be sure your actions will benefit locals and encourage sustainable practices. 

Ethical travel decisions can also be choosing to travel in the off-season to lessen the impact tourists may have, delaying the trip entirely, or just ensuring that the businesses you support are good for the area rather than a foreign investor whose profit doesn’t stay in the community.

Even a luxury travel experience can be a part of responsible tourism. Read our guide on Eco-luxury Travel.

Shop Sustainably

Shopping sustainably while traveling is key to reducing our environmental footprint. Look for stores that sell locally produced goods from sustainable sources, avoid plastic packaging wherever possible, and buy souvenirs made locally rather than imported.

Focus on quality over quantity – this can reduce waste later on down the road. This is where mindfulness comes into play – sustainability is more than just the materials items are made with. It also applies to the impact that an item has on the environment and local communities both when it is made and when it is discarded.

Sustainable Food

Eating sustainably when traveling is another great way to reduce your environmental footprint and support local communities. Choose restaurants that serve locally grown produce, opt for seasonal dishes, and shop at markets for fresh, local food.

Look for phrasing such as farm-to-table, farm-to-fork, seasonal produce, locally grown, bean-to-bar (in reference to chocolate), locally sourced, and farm fresh. This can also apply to agri-tourism and farm tours, with phrasing such as organic, permaculture, and biodynamic.

How to Live Sustainably

Regularly going outside and connecting with nature both when home and traveling will inspire you to live and travel more sustainably.

Volunteering with local community groups such as trash pick-ups, or giving back to the community can also help inspire you to live more sustainably.

Living sustainably when traveling is about being mindful of your actions and taking steps to reduce your environmental impact. This includes choosing ethical transport options such as walking or cycling instead of driving, shopping locally produced goods, and avoiding single-use plastics. It also means respecting the cultures and customs of locals while you travel.

Wrapping Up this Sustainable Travel Guide

By following these simple tips, we can all enjoy our travels in a sustainable and responsible way that helps protect the environment and supports local communities – now and for future generations.

With this in mind, let’s all make an effort to be more conscious travelers – and enjoy the world around us while helping to conserve it for future generations.

Stay tuned for our next post in our series on sustainable travel. Happy traveling!

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What would you add to this guide on what sustainable travel is? Comment and let us know!