10 Easy Ways to Make Your Next Trip More Eco-friendly

Last updated:: 10:00 PM ET, Wed November 26, 2014

Last week we revealed our favorite countries for an eco-adventure. But if you're not traveling to one of those destinations, it's still possible to take a few steps to minimize your impact on the environment. And don't worry-being eco-friendly doesn't mean forgoing all luxuries while you're at it. Here are a few of our favorite ways to protect Mother Earth and go 'eco' on our travels:

Trains Instead of Planes

View of Snow-Capped Mountains and Water from the Bernina Express train

Photo by Shearings Holidays via Flickr

One of our favorite ways to explore a country or region in depth is via train. Trains are often far more comfortable than overcrowded flights, not to mention romantic and beautiful. Most are familiar with Europe's fantastic train system, but don't forget to do a bit of research in other destinations, too.

For example, Taiwan also has an amazing high-speed rail system that can take you from the north to the south in just a few hours. In many countries, train travel is also more economical than flying-not only are you helping the environment, but your travel budget, too!

Offset Your Emissions

Sometimes you just have to fly. If you are going up in the air, then choose a company that allows you to fly carbon-neutral. Many airlines are now offering to calculate how much emissions your travels will produce and convert it into a payment to fund environmental programs. If you do decide to offset your emissions, be sure that you thoroughly research the company before making any commitments. You can also look into eco-friendly airlines, like Costa Rica's Nature Air.

Public Transport

Kunshan Public Bikes

Photo by Douglas M. Paine via Flickr

Do you really need to take a taxi when there are buses that go the same route? Many big cities have reliable bus and subway services that are also far cheaper than getting your own cab. Some major cities have even introduced bike sharing programs.

In Rio de Janeiro, we used the bike sharing program to take a ride around the city. With wide bike lanes and a gorgeous Oceanside boulevard, it was a spectacular way to see a good chunk of the city without looking through a dirty window.

Rent a Hybrid

Traveling by car offers you the freedom to roam as you please, and it is one of our favorite ways to see a large amount of things in a short amount of time. But before you grab the keys for that gas guzzling SUV, consider a hybrid vehicle instead.

As the hybrid technology becomes better and better each year, more companies are offering a wide range of hybrid models. Hybrids use less fuel than conventional cars, which also means you'll save at the pump!

Stay at an Eco Lodge

Cristalino Lodge

PHOTO: Cristalino Lodge is an Eco and Conservation Lodge in the Amazon Rainforest

One of the best ways to incorporate an environmental aspect into your travels is to choose sustainable accommodation. Trade in the air conditioning for an ocean breeze; exchange the entertainment system for jungle wildlife.

As always, remember to do your research before committing to any eco-lodge. The word "eco" is becoming more and more of a buzz word, meaning that some resorts and hotels are claiming to be eco when they are not actually taking any steps to protect or sustain the environment.

Make Any Hotel Stay More Environmentally Conscious

You don't wash your towels every day at home, so why would you do so for a short stay at a hotel? It's all too easy to overindulge when the services are included in the bill, but make a habit of using your towels and sheets for at least a few days. The chemicals from cleaning agents can be very harmful to the environment, and you'll also help save on water.

Also, don't forget to turn off your lights and air conditioning when you're not using it. Not doing so creates the need to use more electricity, which means burning more coal or other fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

Bring Your Own Water Bottle

Plastic bottles are some of the most prominent forms of pollution in the world. Minimize your impact by using your own refillable water bottle on your travels. There are great water bottles that even include filters if you are traveling to a country where you suspect the water quality may be questionable.

Eat Local

Find a farmers market or a street vendor and grab a seat next to some locals. You'll have the opportunity to get into the culture, and the food is more likely to be locally grown. You'll also be supporting the local economy by paying the vendor directly instead of it trickling up a corporate latter. This also applies to your post-dinner drinks. Pick local beverages that come from a nearby microbrewery, distillery or vineyard and didn't have to travel thousands of miles to get there.

Don't Play With Wild Animals


PHOTO: This Capybara Doesn't Seem Amused

During our trip to the Brazilian Amazon and Pantanal, we were fortunate enough to see South America's largest cat, the jaguar! Needless to say, there was no way we were petting that guy! However, other animals like monkeys, capybaras and coatis can be more tempting. Remember never to feed, taunt or take home any animals you find abroad. If you come across people selling wildlife or wildlife products, be aware that these souvenirs could be endangered species that are being sold illegally.

Bring Home Meaningful Gifts

Forget about the t-shirts and plastic key chains that were made in China (while you're actually traveling in Buenos Aires). Instead pick out special items at craft markets, antique shows, farmers markets or other places where they sell locally-sourced products and artwork.

The ease at which we can now travel the world is an absolute gift-let's all do our part to protect this beautiful world we live in! These are just a few of the ways to make your trip a bit more eco. What other ways do you have?

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Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me