Published: Dec. 14, 2023 By

beach sunsetTravel can be exciting, but it can also negatively impact the environment. Whether you travel for vacation, to visit family or out of necessity, there are many ways to incorporate sustainable, eco-friendly practices into your travel plans. 

Here are some tips to help you stay green the next time you head out of town. 

Consider your mode of transportation 

Flying is probably the quickest way to get to your destination, but it typically has more carbon emissions than other forms of transportation. If you choose to travel by plane, travel with intention. 

  • Choose direct flights because they produce less carbon emissions than connecting flights, plus you get to your destination faster. 
  • Take advantage of the RTD Sky Ride, which can take you from campus to the airport. You can save money since you don’t have to pay to park your car at the airport.  
  • Look into carpooling. Plan to travel as a group if you and your friends go to the same destination. 

Pack reusable items 

Choose sustainable and zero-waste alternatives to popular travel items. By making the switch, you can make even the smallest aspects of your trip eco-friendly. 

  • Solid toiletries, like shampoo bars, conditioner bars and toothpaste capsules, help combat plastic waste. You can also buy toiletries in bulk and transfer to reusable travel-size containers.  
  • Organic and reef-safe sunscreen can help protect marine life. 
  • Bamboo toothbrushes are widely available and are a simple biodegradable switch from traditional plastic toothbrushes. 
  • Bringing a portable water purifier to places without safe drinking water is an excellent alternative to buying countless plastic water bottles. 
  • Bring reusable utensils, bags and containers. 
  • Pack snacks to take with you and store them in reusable containers. 
  • Bring your reusable water bottle and thermos with you. 
  • Pack reusable period products, such as a menstrual cup. 
  • Use rechargeable batteries. 
  • Keep tickets and passes on your phone to reduce waste and save on printing costs. 

Go camping 

Camping is a great way to plan an eco-friendly vacation. Many popular tourist destinations have campsites available nearby. Camping can help you reduce your carbon footprint by consuming less water and electricity than in a hotel. Also, follow “leave no trace” principles to keep the earth as beautiful as you found it. 

Camping has many benefits, from access to better air quality to circadian rhythm improvements and stress relief. 

The Boulder area has countless campsites. In addition, the CU Rec Center offers equipment rentals to students through Outdoor Pursuits to help you achieve your backpacking and camping adventure goals. 

Stay sustainably 

If camping isn’t an option, you can find an eco-friendly indoor option. Booking a vacation rental in a small residence can produce a smaller carbon footprint than a large hotel chain. You can also vet your hotels to make sure they are sustainably certified. You can use the website, which specializes in finding and aggregating eco-certified hotels for environmentally conscious vacationers. 

Support the local economy 

One of the best things you can do while traveling is to support the local economy. Dine at locally owned restaurants since small restaurants are more likely to source their goods locally than large chains. Also, they prevent food waste during many parts of the food chain, including food loss in produce packing houses, manufacturing facilities and transportation and distribution networks. 

Buying local, handmade goods also impacts the environment by providing an alternative to cheap, manufactured items. Handmade gifts also often carry more sentimental value because of their one-of-a-kind nature. And buying from local artisans helps them keep doing what they love. 

Plan for sustainable travel 

Implementing sustainable travel practices takes planning and intention. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect. Making a few small choices can have a significant impact over time. You may also influence others to follow your example.