Today marks the 52nd annual Earth Day, and as we celebrate more than five decades of the global environmental movement, responsible travel is front of mind.
At Lonely Planet, we are passionate the world around us. As we explore, we try to be mindful of the impact our travel has on the planet. That’s why, to mark Earth Day 2022, we are sharing some of our top sustainable travel tips from our staff of passionate travelers.
Fionnuala McCarthy, Editorial Director
I have become more conscious of flying in recent times. In the past I took advantage of low cost airlines’ cheap weekend flights and frequently took off for last minute breaks to cities in Europe. Even though we can travel again, I won’t fly somewhere just for a few days. I try to plan longer, more worthwhile trips when I have to fly and use my time wisely, staying longer and seeing more than one place.
Erin Lenczycki, Photo Editor
I grew up backpacking and bring the “leave no trace” mindset on each trip. I usually have a spare bag to collect found trash, especially if we have a beach day in mind.
Melissa Yeager, Senior News Editor
Limit the number of “travel sized” items with refillable containers. You don’t have to buy those new either. Reuse/refill previous containers or look around your house and repurpose things like contact-lens cases or other small containers and fill them off your bigger bottles. I also always pack a reusable tote as it can be handy for avoiding plastic bags while shopping or double as a beach bag. Finally, I’m trying to be more mindful of what I purchase in terms of souvenirs by trying to find local artists and craftspeople to support.
Alexander Howard, Managing Editor, Destinations
Visit during the off season. Many popular destinations have become burdened by their own popularity, with visitors causing traffic jams, leaving trash behind or otherwise damaging local environments. A low-season visit can help offset the boom-and-bust cycle many destinations endure, and it’ll give you a more solitary, intimate look at the place itself.
Sebastian Modak, Editor-at-Large
Oftentimes, slower is more sustainable — and it can be a fun way to challenge yourself to try something new as well. Leave the car at home and take a multi-day bicycle journey instead of a road trip. Island-hop across Greece in a wind-powered sailboat instead of a cruise ship. These days, we default to thinking faster means better. But slowing down can be better for the planet and it will also allow you to really soak in every sensation and experience, instead of rushing through a checklist of “must-sees.”
Laura Motta, Senior Director of Content
It’s a small thing, but I’ve stopped buying bottled water in airports. Every time I flew, I’d go through the same routine: I’d toss my half-full water bottle right before security, and then buy another one airside. Now, I keep a reusable water bottle in my carry-on, empty it before I go through security, and refill it once I get to the gate. (Most big-city airports have refilling stations.) This practice spares the environment — and my wallet.
Brekke Fletcher, Newsletter Editor
I bring my refillable water bottle and coffee mug wherever I go. Even if it’s just to work on the train. I send emails to hotels and airlines, beseeching them to stop with the plastic water bottles and paper coffee cups, and to offer filtered water stations wherever possible and to incentivize using your own bottles and bringing your own toiletries with discounts. I also pack a portable water filter, just in case the water on tap isn’t drinkable.
Sasha Brady, Travel News Reporter
While it’s such a nice treat to have fresh sheets and towels in a hotel every day, it’s not a necessity and forgoing it can significantly reduce the hotel’s water and energy consumption. I usually tell the front desk that I don’t need the sheets and towels changed daily and hang the Do Not Disturb sign on my door when I go out.
Rachel Lewis, Senior Marketing Manager
I’m big on finding nearby adventures — who says you have to travel miles and miles away to have an awe-inspiring experience? By exploring in my own backyard, I can limit the environmental impact of my travel, and learn more about my own community. Plus, if I really fall in love with a destination, it makes it easier to re-visit again and again.