Small acts, when multiplied by millions
of people, can transform the world.

~ Howard Zinn

Every day, there seems to be something in the news about how pollution, global warming, and other environmental factors are negatively impacting the world we live in:

  • Icebergs are melting all over the world
  • The air is filled with pollution
  • The trash in our oceans is killing marine life
  • Landfills are overflowing with non-recyclable waste

Those are just a few examples.

Taken as a whole, the situation seems overwhelming. But if we each take a few simple steps to reduce our own impact on the environment, collectively, we can make a big difference.

What does all of this have to do with travel?  Quite a bit.

If you want to do your part to reduce your environmental impact and carbon footprint1  when you travel, you can begin by taking one or more of the steps below. In addition to reducing your environmental impact, you’ll be saving money as well. Win-win!


Walk or ride a bike instead of driving
(if your destination is close enough).

♻️ Environmental Impact – The amount of air pollution and fuel consumption is reduced.

💰 Financial Benefits – Walking and bike riding are free activities (if you ride your own bike). If you don’t have your own bike, you can rent one for a small fee from the bike kiosks that are popping up all over the place.

⚕️ Health Impact – Both walking and bike riding are great ways to get some exercise and Vitamin D while exploring a new place. The time will fly and you’ll hardly notice that you’re exercising. Walking and bike riding are also 2 of my favorite ways to stay fit when traveling.

Take public transportation instead of
a cab or using a rideshare service.

♻️ Environmental Impact – Public transportation is more environmentally friendly since multiple people are transported at a time, resulting in less gas and oil burned and lower emissions. 

💰 Financial Benefits – Public transportation costs a lot less than taking a cab or using a rideshare service.

Select the “carpool” option when using
a rideshare service instead of riding solo.

♻️ Environmental Impact – As with other transportation options that carry multiple passengers, carpooling uses less gas and oil and reduces the number of vehicles on the road.

💰 Financial Benefits – Carpooling is the least expensive rideshare option, allowing you to get to your destination and save money at the same time.

Pro Tip: If you DO choose this option, be sure to allow extra time to get to your destination. This is not the option to choose if you have to be somewhere at a specific time since the addition of other passengers usually adds extra time to your trip.

For tips on how to have the best Uber passenger experience, click here.  

Take buses and trains instead of driving.

amtrak train

♻️ Environmental Impact – Since buses and trains can transport larger quantities of people, there are fewer vehicles on the road, reducing air pollution and fuel consumption (and lessening traffic).  In addition, by taking a bus or train, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by one pound for every mile you do not drive.

💰 Financial Benefits – Buses and trains are reliable, cost-effective ways to get around and they offer the added benefit of allowing you to read, work, even sleep while someone else does the driving. (Local buses and subways are also good, affordable local transportation options.)

Wanderu is my go-to for finding the best rates on bus and train travel. It’s a search engine that helps you find deals on more than 8,000 destinations in North America & Europe. I’ve used it many times and found great deals on roundtrip bus fare to and from New York City. 

Drive instead of flying.

♻️ Environmental Impact – Depending on how far you’re traveling, driving can be a more environmentally-friendly transportation method. If you need to rent a car, many car rental agencies now offer hybrid options.

💰 Financial Benefits – Depending on factors such as distance, time of year, cost of gas, and the fuel economy of your vehicle, driving may be less expensive than flying.

To determine the environmental impact of flying or driving as well as the costs associated with both, check out the Fly or Drive calculator.

Choose a nonstop flight instead of
a flight with 1+ stops.

♻️ Environmental Impact – Nonstop flights burn less fuel since they don’t have to take off and land multiple times. Fewer flights also reduce the amount of air pollution.

💰 Financial Benefits – Although direct flights typically cost more than flights with 1+ stops, the savings are often canceled out by the amount of money you end up spending in the duty-free store, gift shop, or restaurants at the airport during your layover(s).  Nonstop flights also save you time – a commodity you cannot get back, making it priceless. 

Find and compare best airfares and most sustainable flights among leading airlines, travel sites, and low-cost carriers using Glooby.


Recycle your paper, plastic, and glass items.

♻️ Environmental Impact – Recycling reduces the amount of waste in landfills and allows manufacturers to give the recycled materials new life. Reducing your garbage by 10% reduces your carbon footprint by 1,200 pounds a year.2

Carry a Reusable Water Bottle Instead
of Buying a Single-Use Water Bottle

♻️ Environmental Impact – Carrying a reusable water bottle significantly reduces the quantity of plastic in landfills and oceans. 

💰 Financial Benefits – If you’re conscientious about staying hydrated, the cost of bottled water can add up quickly. And if you purchase it at an airport, you’ll have to pay at least $4/bottle or more (Yikes!) By investing in a reusable water bottle, you’ll save money by being able to fill up at water fountains and other places where drinkable water is available.

Recommended Reusable Water Bottles:

Bring Your Own Reusable Utensils
Instead of Single-Use Plastic Utensils

♻️ Environmental Impact – Bringing your own utensils ensures that you have silverware no matter where you are. It also lessens the number of plastic utensils and accompanying wrappers that end up in landfills.  [See the TSA’s guidelines regarding utensils]

Carry Reusable Bags Instead
of Disposable Plastic Bags.

♻️ Environmental Impact – Regardless of size, plastic bags (including snack, sandwich, quart, gallon, or grocery) end up in landfills unless recycled. Many grocery stores have recycling bins so shoppers can bring their unused plastic grocery bags back for recycling. Reusable bags are sturdy and can be tossed in the washing machine for a refresh. They are also compact and take up very little space when not in use.

Recommended Reusable Bags:


Part of the appeal of staying at a hotel is the availability of housekeeping. You leave the room and when you come back, your bed is made and your wet towels are replaced with fresh, clean ones. It’s as if a fairy came in, waved a magic wand, and *poof* the room is clean. But we all know that’s not the case.

For some people, staying at a hotel is an excuse for them to be messier than they are when they’re at home.  However, how we behave at hotels has a direct impact on the environment. 

housekeeper in a hotel room

Many hotels have begun doing their part to become more environmentally friendly and encourage their guests to skip having housekeeping freshen their rooms by providing information about how many gallons of water it takes to wash the sheets and towels each day.

How can you help?

Use your towels more than once.

Instead of using a towel and dropping it carelessly on the hotel bathroom floor, hang it up to dry so you can use it again. Most of us use our towels more than once before washing them when we’re at home, right? So why should it be any different when you’re away? 

♻️ Environmental Impact – When guests use their towels more than once, fewer loads of laundry need to be done by the hotel’s housekeeping staff or laundry service. Fewer loads mean less water, detergent, and electricity used.

Don’t have housekeeping change
your sheets every day.

Pending some type of “accident” or extra-sweaty weather, there’s really no need for housekeeping to change your sheets daily. Most of us wash our sheets weekly, not daily when we’re at home. Being away shouldn’t alter your behavior.

♻️ Environmental Impact – As with towels, the fewer sheets that need to be washed, the fewer loads of laundry that need to be done by the hotel’s housekeeping staff or laundry service. Fewer loads mean less water, detergent, and electricity need to be consumed.

Bring your own toiletries instead of
using the ones the hotel provides.

Although I have been guilty of using the cute Barbie-size shampoo, conditioner, and other toiletries I’ve found in my hotel room (and hoarding the ones that I didn’t use), I have started bringing my own refillable silicone toiletry bottles

♻️ Environmental Impact By discontinuing the use of toiletries in single-use plastic bottles, you will be helping reduce the millions of tons of plastic that end up in landfills. The benefit to you is that you are able to continue to use the products that you love. 

 To find eco-labeled hotels, check out Glooby.

Which tip(s) are you going to begin using?

Share in the comments below ⇓

1 – Carbon footprint – the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc.

2 – Source: Earth Day Tips 

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