100+ Sustainable Travel Tips:

The B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide

Chris Kaiser, Founder of B’n’Tree
Updated for 2019

The B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide offers over 100 tips for traveling more sustainably. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned responsible traveler, you will definitely find a few hacks here to make your trips more environmentally friendly, your travel experience more rewarding and you’ll probably even save some hard earned cash along the way.

Best of all: A lot of these hacks can be applied to everyday life as well, essentially making this an excellent green lifestyle guide at the same time.

About The B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide

The B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide is the most extensive collection of sustainable travel tips in one place, sorted for your browsing pleasure. As well as drawing on our wealth of experience, we contacted over 50 of the top experts in the industry, compiling this list of over 100 hacks for responsible traveling.

We have evaluated and rated those tips, so you can easily find the ones that best suit you and the stage of sustainability that you’re at.

Not only does sustainable travel decrease your carbon footprint, but it also deepens your experience – and often saves you money as well. And yes, it helps other people, endangered animals and our planet at the same time. There literally is no reason to not travel more responsibly.

Disclosure: Mentions in the B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide are not for sale. We only mention people and companies we appreciate and are convinced they deserve a feature in the world’s biggest Sustainable Travel Guide.

The Green Travel Guide Spreadsheet

For the ultimate in convenience, download the B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide spreadsheet. It includes all 100+ sustainable travel tips that you’ll find in this article and can be filtered any way you like, e.g. to focus on the highest impact, the least effort or on money-saving travel hacks.

To make business travel more sustainable, the spreadsheet also offers the option to filter all hacks specifically for business trip suitability. In addition you can also adjust the Green Travel Guide spreadsheet to only show all tricks that you can also apply at home for a more sustainable lifestyle in general, even when not traveling.

Best of all: Downloading the Green Travel Guide spreadsheet enables you to access all sustainable travel hacks anytime, even when you’re offline, and is completely free of charge for you.

What are you waiting for? Have the Green Travel Guide spreadsheet delivered right into your inbox, right now.

Introduction: What Is Responsible Travel?

In case you want to skip the introduction and get started right away, click here to scroll to our green travel hack #1. Otherwise, let’s first discuss what responsible travel is, why it’s important, how you can get the most out of the Green Travel Guide and what’s in it for you.

Responsible travel, and its counterparts sustainable travel, ethical travel, eco-friendly travel, green travel or however you’d like to call it, are omnipresent buzzwords these days. They somehow sound familiar. But what does it actually mean to travel responsibly?

“Responsible Travel.” Let’s be honest, the concept sounds onerous, intimidating and expensive. But it really doesn’t have to be. In fact, we’ve found that responsible travel is a bit like sex.

“Traveling responsibly is like sex. Everyone talks about it, but not everybody practices it as diligently as they claim to.

The B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide is designed to show travelers how simple traveling more sustainably can be, and that very often you even save cash money while saving the planet.”

Chris Kaiser, B’n’Tree

Analogies aside, the official definition from the World Tourism Organisation states that responsible tourism is:

“Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”

United Nations World Tourism Organization

Responsible Travel Made Simple

Now that’s quite a mouthful. Let’s simplify this a little: Traveling responsibly simply involves factoring in extra consideration before you make a booking. Instead of only concerning yourself with the convenience and value of your travel, consider the impact of it too.

We’re not talking about refusing all business meetings abroad, or cycling to your next holiday destination. Simply considering small (or big) changes that will lessen your impact on the planet.

We could summarize it easily by saying that in essence, responsible travel is about not being a dick.

More often than not, there’s a way to reduce the harm that travel has on the planet without having to make any significant change to your original plans; it’s just about looking at the bigger picture. 

Responsible travel isn’t about beating yourself up either. Let’s face it: Nobody is perfect. But every little step matters, and by acknowledging that you can make a difference.

Start with a few of our hacks, then add others over time. Before you know it, you’ll be an amazingly responsible traveler. 

In the words of one world famous Spanish painter:

“Don’t be afraid of perfection, you’ll never achieve it.”

Savador Dalí

Why Traveling Sustainably Is AWESOME

We all know that sustainability is something we should be prioritizing. After all, we love the Earth. Don’t you?

Lil’ Dicky, Justin Bieber, Leo DiCaprio, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, the Backstreet Boys and a ton of other people sure do so.

With that song in mind, here’s why traveling responsibly is awesome (and what’s in it for you).

It takes you off the beaten track!

That’s right, mass tourism and battling against swathes of crowds can be a thing of the past. While other travelers are opting for the tried and tested (often ecologically destructive) route, you can explore the path less traveled.

A richer experience.

At the risk of sounding like hippies of the tie-dye wearing kind, sustainable travel can result in a more profound experience. You’re more likely to find yourself in an environment where you’ll meet locals, encounter unadulterated culture, and see the things that most travelers don’t.

The feel good factor.

Ok, this can be a touchy subject. You shouldn’t need to get personal gratification from doing the right thing, but the sense of well-being you get from giving back isn’t something to disregard.

As a responsible traveler, you can have that warm, fuzzy glow knowing that you made choices that helped the environment and other human beings.

It saves you money!

Oh yes, you read that right. Despite the common misperception that traveling sustainably is the more expensive option, this isn’t necessarily the case.

In fact, people who travel on a tight budget often incidentally become the most conscious travelers – even if it’s just for the sake of their wallets. Our Green Travel Guide contains some of these cost-busting tips, so keep an eye out for them.

Why Sustainable Travel Matters

Aside from the egotistical aspects of becoming a more responsible traveler we mentioned above, there are more reasons why traveling sustainable matters.

There are billions of people on this planet, and despite how spread out we may be, travel links us all. 

The travel and tourism industry accounts for 10.4% of global GDP and 9.9% of global employment – that’s no small feat!

While travel may be incredibly positive to 313 million people whose livelihood depends on it, it can also have a devastating impact on the planet. 

Air pollution, loss of natural habitats, soil erosion, and the over-consumption of natural resources combine to form a growing threat for the future of our world. There’s no ‘Planet B’.

As world-famous long-term traveler Matt Kepnes puts it:

“Once a place is gone, it is gone for good.”

Matt Kepnes, Nomadic Matt

You can make a difference: every step, no matter how small, matters. So don’t get weighed down by the fact that you can’t reverse the damage to the entire planet overnight.

Instead, take pride in the small steps that you do take and share these travel tips with other travelers across the globe. If we all make small changes, the accumulated impact will be huge!

First small step: Share the B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide now!

How To Read B’n’Tree’s Green Travel Guide

To make it as simple as possible to find the perfect sustainable travel hack, we’ve rated all travel tips by their impact, cost, and effort, and assigned them a color code as follows:

Green: These are the tips that are high impact, need little effort or are low cost, free or even save you money.

Yellow: These tips create medium levels of impact, require an average amount of effort, or involve some costs. Once you have mastered all the green tips, start working on yellow.

Red: These tips may only produce low levels of impact, involve a lot of effort or require higher costs. Best attempted by the advanced sustainable traveler. 

Effort, Impact and Costs are calculated in perspective to the ‘standard’. Yes, staying at home is cheaper than traveling somewhere.

But setting as ‘standard’ that you’re planning to go somewhere, the Cost factor highlights which green travel tips cost more than the standard solution, which ones require the same financial investment and which ones will save you money. The same goes for effort and impact.

Please note that all factors are rated per occurrence, e.g. per meal. And yes, even a low impact is a positive impact! There is no green travel hack listed here that pollutes the planet more than the ‘standard’ solution would.

And a lot of Low impacts add up to a huge impact! Declining a single plastic straw doesn’t save our entire marine wildlife, but declining three straws per day, multiplied by 365 days a year and billions of people worldwide adds up to an entire plastic continent that will never reach the oceans.

As mentioned before: Every step matters.

How To Use B’n’Tree’s Green Travel Guide

Using the Green Travel Guide is easy, and best done bit by bit. Attempting to try these 100+ responsible travel tips all at once is a recipe for disaster.

Instead, go for the green, high-impact, low-effort and low-cost tips first, then slowly move up to the yellow tips and gradually make your way to mastering the reds.

Our recommendation: Select your one single favorite sustainable travel hack. One you’re not using yet.

Share it with your friends, family and in our Facebook discussion on sustainable travel. That way it will manifest itself. Then make sure to apply it to your next journey. And then come back to repeat these steps.

As mentioned above, feel free to download the Green Travel Guide spreadsheet for offline use, better filterability and to add your own comments and experiences to it.

Your Feedback Matters!

Last but not least, before we get cracking, one note from our team: Your Feedback matters!

The B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide is the most comprehensive guide on traveling responsibly. We have yet to find another resource comprising 100+ sustainable travel tips in one place and think we’ve covered the majority of travel hacks.

But that is only possible thanks to diligent readers like you! So thank you for being awesome!

Please don’t be shy. If your favorite isn’t on the list or you have any other feedback you’d like to share with us, please comment below or shoot us an email – we’re always happy to hear from you!

Good news, important updates, tempting travel inspiration and so much more. Sign up for our newsletter GROW today!

The Ultimate Green Travel Guide: 100+ Tips To More Sustainable Travel 

So here it comes. The ultimate Green Travel Guide.

Since compiling over 100 sustainable travel tips has turned this into a massive article, we have broken the Green Travel Guide down into smaller sections, including eco-friendly preparation, responsible travel hacks for while you’re on tour as well as some post-trip tricks.

Read them all at once or focus on the phase of travel you are currently in. Make sure to mark the article in your bookmarks for easier reference later on, and download the Green Travel Guide spreadsheet for offline accessibility.

Preparation: Sustainable Travel Requires Clever Planning

In an ideal world, all the preparation that makes sustainable travel achievable would be done by the tour operators, airlines and other groups that fall within the travel industry.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. Not yet, at least.

While a growing number of businesses understand the importance of ecotourism and sustainability, the majority are still burying their heads in the sand. 

What does this mean for you? That there may be a degree of prep-work you need in order to make the smallest impact on your travels.

But don’t panic. The B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide got your back. We’re not talking a lot of time or effort necessarily, just putting some thought into your preparations.

Destination: Where to Go? 

Impact: High / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

The best option is to reduce transport emissions by choosing a destination that isn’t too far, but if you’re keen to travel abroad look at eco-friendly destinations. Also, consider the road less traveled by visiting places that aren’t so touristy – they profit the most from a little extra income, and you avoid battling the crowds.

Duration: How Long to Go? 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Especially when flying, extending the trip makes sense. You’ll also be able to take the time to properly enjoy the destination you’re heading to, making it less likely that you’ll feel like you need to repeat the trip in the future.

Rule of thumb: The longer the journey, the fewer emissions on average per day. Second rule of thumb: The longer the journey, the smaller the budget per day.

What Kind of Trip are you going on? 

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

Business? Weekend Getaway? City break? Annual vacation? Long-term travel?

If the answer is business, download the spreadsheet version of our tips in order to filter the sustainable travel hacks for business trip suitability.

If opting for either of the last two: How about supporting rural tourism by going off the beaten path, or why not consider voluntourism? Check out Grassroots Volunteering and Shannon’s Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook for information on volunteering.

Or combine work and play on a Workation.

“Many travelers seek transformative experiences when they travel, and researching social enterprises is the single easiest way to plan a transformative trip. Every style of travel can incorporate theses businesses, which immerse you right in the culture while feeding needed money directly into local economy to address social issues within the community. Social enterprise travel creates a win for your trip—offering a more connected travel experience—and a win for those in your destination.

Shannon O’Donnell, A Little Adrift

Consider Dates.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: SAVE

Here’s one you may not have thought of. Making a long journey by road on a day when there’s likely to be a lot of traffic on the roads (like on the first day of summer vacation) will mean the trip takes longer, you’ll spend more time on the road and use more gas.

Flying on the first day of summer vacation means you’ll be paying over the odds on flights and spend longer queuing at the airport. Instead try to travel a few days before or after most people do, saving time, stress, money and gas.

PRO Green Traveler Tip: Don’t just consider the dates in your country of origin, but also in your destination. Public holidays or special events on site drive up prices and increase the volume of travelers. Low season is a great time for great bargains.

Green Travel Destination Research: Lilo

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Lilo is an internet search engine which is similar to Google, with one major difference: Lilo invests half of its ad-generated profits into charity projects. You can choose whether that’s a tree-planting charity or if you prefer to help children or would like to empower women.

Since travel research often takes up a bit of time, you have already made a positive impact before hitting the road – without paying a single cent for it. 

Borrow the Books.

Impact: Low / Effort: Medium / Costs: SAVE

Plan your journey online, use library books or borrow informational material from friends and neighbors. You really don’t need to print everything out or buy new travel guides in this digital age. Instead, make the most of the information that’s already in the public domain.

Even destination guides or your travel reading can often be borrowed from libraries, just don’t forget to renew online if you’re traveling for more than a few weeks. 

Read up on the Culture of your destination. 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

Learn a few words, take appropriate clothes, check for local holidays (and how to behave on them), learn the country’s stance on showing public displays of affection, etc.

Also, it always helps to learn a few hand signs: A) Because you may not speak the language, and B) Because certain hand signs might be considered rude and need to be avoided.

Slow is Good. 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: SAVE

You’re going on vacation, not a race. Take it easy. Why visit five countries in 10 days if afterward you can’t remember any of it? It’s better to take it slow and properly explore one country instead. 

Bonus: Traveling slower is usually cheaper than racing around like a headless chicken, since you get to know a place better and save money on transport.

Factor Tips into your Budget.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Not only does it make financial sense to include tips when planning your budget, but it also means you’re less likely to scrimp or overspend once you’re on tour.

Tip wisely: Overtipping may encourage greed, while undertipping is both impolite and not cool. A dollar in India goes a lot further than it would at home.

Unsure if or how much to tip? Check out Conde Nast Traveler’s Global Tipping Guide.

Green Travel Tips for Booking And Leaving Home

You’ve done your research, made the best choices in terms of your planning, and are ready to book.

But wait! Because even before you set off on your journey, you can show that you’re a responsible traveler. 

There are a few easy tips to ensure that you don’t undo all of that green travel planning you’ve done so far.

Use B’n’Tree for More Sustainable Bookings.

Impact: High / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Beginning your bookings on B’n’Tree plants one tree for every booking – at no cost to you.

When going on a trip, it’s likely you make several bookings, e.g. for transport, accommodation and tours on site. Each of these bookings plants one tree – for free! All you need to invest is one extra click of your mouse on www.bedandtree.com before your booking.

Making your travels more sustainable doesn’t get any simpler than this.

We created B’n’Tree to make traveling more sustainable as simple as possible. Now one single click of your mouse plants a real tree, and the smart tree-planting assistant automatically reminds you every time there’s a chance to do so.

Traveling more sustainable won’t get much simpler than this.

Chris Kaiser, Founder B’n’Tree

Go Paperless. 

Impact: Low / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Download the apps both for airlines and regional transport. You can generally buy tickets or access existing bookings in-app, so there’s no need to print. Apps like Lambus can help you stay organized.

As an added bonus it’s very handy as you’ll have everything collected in one place with no need to search through reams of printed confirmations for your tickets. 

Save photocopies or images of your passport, visa card, travel insurance details, etc. in Google Drive, your email inbox or Dropbox.

If there’s something you simply must print, use recycled paper and print on both sides.

“With Lambus you can easily create and manage your trip together. The travel plan with all highlights, notes and point of interest is digitally available for all fellow travellers, even offline. You can also store your complete travel documents conveniently and centrally in one place, which you can access at any time. Less planning, less garbage, more holidays.

Hans Knöchel, CEO Lambus

Offset your Travel. 

Impact: High / Effort: Low / Costs: High

You can offset your travels when you return, but it’s better to do it before leaving home – that way you have it out of the way and can feel good while on vacation.

Offsetting your emissions can be done by investing in green projects, such as reforesting the planet, solar/wind energy, building more efficient stoves to decrease deforestation, etc. Companies like Atmosfair or MyClimate reliably do this for you.

atmosfair is a German non-profit organization that actively contributes to CO₂ mitigation by promoting, developing and financing renewable energies in over 15 countries worldwide.
Our work ethic is based on the following principle: only compensate what can’t be avoided or reduced.

You can calculate and offset your flight emissions with our flight emission calculator.

Luise Schmidt, Atmosfair

Unplug your Home and your Office.

Impact: Medium  / Effort: Low / Costs: SAVE

Before you travel, pull the plug on your appliances. There’s no need for the TV to be on standby.

If the fridge is empty (which it should be) and you’re away for more than two weeks, unplug the fridge as well. If you have any leftover food that will go out of date while you’re away, give it to food sharing communities in your neighborhood.

The beauty is, all those turned off electronic devices will save you money on your electricity bill while you’re away.

Pause Your Newspaper.

Impact: Medium  / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Inform your newspaper distributor that you’ll be away from home, and hence don’t need the daily news while you’re out of town. In some cases newspapers reward this by pausing the monthly charges as well.

The same applies of course to magazines you receive regularly.

Buy A Tree

Impact: High / Effort: Low / Costs: Low 

Buying a tree before you travel gives you a great feeling of accomplishment while you’re on tour. With companies like Click A Tree you can plant trees from the comfort of your screen.

And, depending on your destination, you can even select to have the tree planted in the country you’re visiting. That way you’ll arrive at your destination knowing that you have already had a positive impact on this place.

Related: Wonder why we are so keen on planting trees? Read Boto and Mary’s success story to learn more about the miraculous effects of reforesting Madagascar.

“Planting trees enabled me and my family to escape poverty and earn a stable, full-time income. My parents were amongst the first ones to help reforest Madagascar, and their salaries pay for my university now. One day I will continue in their footsteps.

Japo, reforesting Madagascar

Packing Sustainably – The B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide’s Free and Money-Saving Hacks

Packing correctly is essential to traveling more sustainably. What to keep on your packing list is equally as important as what to leave behind. But packing light doesn’t have to mean going without.

Here are the Green Travel Guide’s best sustainable packing hacks that don’t cost you a dime, or even save you some of your hard earned cash.

Less Is More.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: SAVE

Packing light creates fewer emissions in traveling to your destination. It also frees up your mind and makes carrying your bag around a lot easier – and it saves you airline luggage fees. You can wash clothes in your destination and pick up most “travel essentials” at your destination.

“In our research for The Green Book, we discovered that every additional ten pounds per traveler requires an additional 350 million gallons of jet fuel per year. That’s enough fuel to keep a 747 flying continuously for ten years, which is pretty amazing.”

Thomas Kostigen, NY Times Best-Selling Author

PRO Green Traveler Tip: Sustainable travel champions manage to travel with hand luggage only, saving the planet plus their own valuable time and effort when packing and moving luggage around.

Bring a Reusable Shopping Bag (or two or three).

Impact: Medium  / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

Use a reusable cotton bag for shopping, as a laundry bag, day bag for the beach or anything else. Washable totes or eco shopping bags pack down small and they weigh next to nothing, so they’re a total no-brainer!

The production of a reusable bag amortizes itself after about 40 uses. Using the tote five times daily for eight days straight already puts the eco-balance of your bag above using plastic bags.

And since we bet you have one of those somewhere in your household, taking one doesn’t cost you a single Cent either. Should you not have one at hand, ask a friend or a neighbor. Worst case you can buy one for one Euro tops.

Borrow Books or use an eReader.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: SAVE

Using an eReader lets you carry thousands of books in your pocket. There is lots of free reading material available as well, and e-books are often cheaper than paperbacks.

If you prefer physical books, borrow them from the library, from a friend or get them for free from open bookshelves. Most accommodation providers and even some cafes have book-swap shelves, so take only one book and exchange it for something new when you’re finished.

Pat yourself on the back for saving the environment and some more of your hard earned cash.

PRO Green Traveler Tip: If you find book-swap opportunities that aren’t listed on OpenBookCase.org yet, register for a free account and help improve the database.

Swap Clothes before Departure

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: SAVE

Organize a clothes swap with friends prior to your departure. Surely someone you know has hiked that mountain or dived those oceans as well, so borrow gear from them, instead of buying new stuff.

You can invest the money you saved into taking your friends out for dinner – or put it in the piggy bank.

Get a Green Map.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Want to see the best your destination has to offer and find out all the local eco hot-spots? Check to see if any of the places you’ll be visiting have a Green Map and download it to your phone before you travel.

PRO Green Traveler Tip: Bio-Brownie points for everyone creating their own Green Map for others.

“Created locally in hundreds of communities by local people, all Green Maps share a lively iconography that links and promotes amazing ecological, cultural and green living resources. We invite you to visit GreenMap.org, go off the beaten track to experience green places as you travel and bring those good ideas home!

Wendy Brawer, Director Green Map System

Pack for a Purpose.

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

What good is responsible travel if it can’t help people less fortunate? Pack for a purpose by bringing items to donate to local organizations.

There is a handy website to make the donation process as easy as possible. By taking the items specifically requested by the community projects on this website, you can be confident that the items you bring will be impactful and greatly appreciated by the community. The lists on the website are updated as needed.

Note: Please do not give things (and definitely no money!) to children directly. It fosters a begging culture which can lead to exploitation. Instead, give to school headmasters or responsible tour operators who can then distribute the goods fairly. 

The Pack for a Purpose website provides travelers with the information they need to take needed supplies to over 60 countries across the globe. With this information, PfaP travelers can make the trip they take go farther than the miles they travel. For example, a stethoscope weights less than a kilo but it can touch 10,000 hearts.

Rebecca Rothney, Founder and Chairperson Pack for a Purpose

Packing Sustainably – Items Worth Investing In

Besides the free and money saving packing hacks, there are a few more items you may want to bring with you to make your trip more sustainable.

Whichever of the items you decide to purchase, we recommend investing in good quality to ensure these things become travel companions for life.

And since they may be with you for quite a while, go for colors and patterns that will keep you smiling.

Related: Did you know that there are lots of companies that plant free trees for you when you purchase their products? Here is how you can plant trees for free while buying clothes, hammocks, towels, electronics or even chocolate.

Buy Locally. Or Zero Waste Online.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: Medium

For all the below mentioned items you may not have at home yet, please consider buying them locally instead of ordering online. Should anything not be available near you, take a look at Hippie Haven Podcast’s Collection of the best zero waste online shops worldwide.

Invest in Good Quality Gear

Impact: High / Effort: Low / Costs: High

In case you cannot get what you need during a clothes swap or from friends and neighbors, invest in good quality gear.

Choose environmentally friendly clothing and travel gear made from recycled, reused, organic, and sustainable natural materials such as cotton, hemp, and bamboo.

Investing in good quality gear may be more expensive at first but saves money, and our planet, in the long run.

It takes 5,000 – 10,000 liters of water to produce one single pair of jeans. Wouldn’t it be great if those jeans lasted a while? (Source: Treehugger)

Take your Own Water Bottle. 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: Low

Not only do reusable water bottles look cool, they’re also super convenient. If you’re going to a place where tap water might be unsafe to drink, take water-purifying tablets with you. Or take a water bottle with a built-in filter.

Single-use plastic bottles take more resources to be created and end up in landfills or incinerators. Neither outcome is desirable.

Find free refill stations with apps like Refill (mainly Europe) or Blue W (mainly North America) or by simply asking the closest hotel, restaurant, bar or convenience store to please fill up your water bottle. Few people deny a thirsty traveler a drink.

Bottled water is the single most overpriced product on this planet. One liter of tap water costs a fraction of a Cent, whereas a liter of bottled water costs between one and four euros. How is that for a price increase?

PRO Green Traveler Tip: Encourage restaurants, bars, hotels and other shops and stores to participate in one of the water refill programs. It’s free, and can gain them some extra business from thirsty travelers stumbling in and purchasing something.

Packing a water bottle that you can Refill is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to reduce your plastic use when travelling and save money at the same time. On top of that, you can find other #PlasticFreeTravel top-tips here.

Steve Hynd, Campaigns Manager at the environmental not-for-profit, City to Sea.

Get Your Own Mug

Impact: Medium  / Effort: Low  / Costs: Low

If you’re a tea, coffee or hot chocolate lover, take a reusable travel mug too. Same as with your own water bottle, you can personalize the mug any way you like. Some even allow you to print your own photo on them. How cool is that for being sustainable?

Bonus: A lot of coffee shops are now discounting your beverage price if you bring your own mug. You’ll have that initial investment recouped in no time.

Take a Reusable Container for Food.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Low

A spare Tupperware container can come in handy for keeping those snacks fresh and having a bite on the run. As a last resort, at least reuse that paper bag from the bakery. 

And once the box is empty you can refill it with takeaways or the leftovers from your restaurant meal.

PRO Green Traveler Tip: Get yourself a leak-proof reusable food container, in case you’d like to transport soups or sauces.

Cut out the Cutlery.

Impact: Medium  / Effort: Low  / Costs: Low

Depending on the nature of your trip, pack reusable cutlery and perhaps even a travel straw (more on straws below in Food and Beverage Tips for Traveling Eco-Friendly).

It might seem like a small gesture but there’s no need for single-use plastic cutlery and if you’ll be eating out regularly it all adds up. There are some great bamboo options available at Bare Vida, but you may even find a local manufacturer near you.

Take Your Own Toiletries – Plastic-Free

Impact: Medium  / Effort: Low  / Costs: Medium

First of all: Take your own toiletries with you. There’s no need to use the throwaway bathroom amenities some hotels still provide.

And second: Make your wash bag plastic-free. There is hard shampoo, toothpaste as pills, eco-friendly and reef-safe sunscreen, natural deodorant and makeup, menstrual cups, travel soap bars and a range more available these days. Make use of these!

Check if there’s a zero waste shop near you. If you can’t find one in this list, use Lilo to search for “zero waste shop in xxx”. Alternatively, most drug stores have come to sell plastic-free products. If not, make your local store aware that you’d like to see these in stock soon.

PRO Green Traveler Tip: When the time comes for a new wash bag, buy an upcycled one.

Pack a Bamboo Toothbrush.

Impact: Low  / Effort: Low  / Costs: Low

This is non-negotiable. Bamboo toothbrushes are readily available, super cool, and can be mostly composted. If you haven’t already made the easy switch away from dated plastic toothbrushes, now is the time.

I strongly believe in choosing the positive, in saying yes to change and progress. All big turnarounds start small, but together we can have an incredible impact.”

Roger Nefkens, CEO The Bamboo Brush Society

TBBS Marketing Campaign “This is where I brush”.

Where do you brush? Tag @clickatree and @thebamboobrushsociety in your coolest shots.

Packing Sustainably – Electronics

Producing electronic appliances takes a lot of natural resources, many of which can currently not be replicated by humans. That means: Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Especially with electronics, invest in quality gear that is built to last, and make sure to use these gadgets while they last.

Need an Adaptor Plug? 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: Low

If you’re traveling often, get an adaptor that can be used worldwide. It’s cheaper than buying one adaptor per country, and it saves on the emissions, resources and waste used to create multiple different ones.

Finally, it even saves you the headache of realizing you packed the wrong adaptor. We’ve all been there! 

Ever thought about a Solar-Powered Power Bank?

Impact: Low / Effort: Low / Costs: Medium

If you have a power bank already, it’s a good idea to bring it along. If not, you don’t need to buy a new one but if you were considering purchasing one anyway why not make use of the sun’s energy?

PRO Green Traveler Tip: When on vacation, ditch power banks altogether. Charge your phone when you have the chance, switch it to flight mode to extend battery life and enjoy being offline whenever the power runs out.

If you need Batteries, take Rechargeable Ones. 

Impact: Medium  / Effort: Low  / Costs: Low

Most devices recharge using mains power, but if you need to bring batteries, opt for rechargeable over single-use. Same as with clothes, the initial investment is higher, but it definitely pays out in the long run. No one needs disposable batteries – least of all Mother Earth.

Ready to leave? Take the B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide Spreadsheet with you.

All 100+ sustainable travel hacks, in one handy spreadsheet, ready to sort, filter and add comments to.

Green Travel Guide Transport Hacks

How you choose to travel is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Transport has a massive effect on the environment, so opting for eco-conscious options will cut your carbon footprint and reduce the global impact significantly.

To already make your transport more sustainable at the time of booking, use B’n’Tree to book wherever possible.

In addition, follow the other Green Travel Guide Transport Hacks to make your trip even more sustainable.

Opt for Public Transport. 

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Low

Instead of flying, can you travel by train or bus to where you want to go? Not only is it easier and more stress-free than airport queues and worrying about luggage and liquid restrictions, but you’ll dramatically reduce the emissions caused by your travel plans.

Train and bus journeys are also an excellent way to see the countryside. Or, if traveling overnight, save you money for accommodation. And it’s a lot more likely to get in contact with locals or fellow travelers.

If traveling by Car, think about Ride-Sharing.

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Low

Whether you decide to drive yourself or simply need to get from A to B, consider sharing the ride. There are some great websites that connect drivers with passengers.

The more people in a car, the less emissions per head. Plus you’ll reduce your gas costs, meet new people and have company on your journey.

For European adventures, check out BlaBlaCar. To explore North America and Oceania, search on ShareYourRide.

Reconsider Rentals.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: Medium

In case you do have to rent a car, be wise when you pick a model. Opt for a hybrid or fuel-efficient car over a gas-guzzler. 

And hey – once rented, you can still share your ride!

If you need to Fly, Fly Non-Stop. 

Impact: High / Effort: Low / Costs: High

Airlines burn most kerosene during take-off and landing, so the fewer stops, the better.

It’s a lot more comfortable for you as well. Why spend six hours in the middle of the night laying over at an uncomfortable airport, when you could already be exploring your holiday destination or shining well-rested at your business meeting? 

Fly Eco-Class.

Impact: High / Effort: Low  / Costs: SAVE

If there really is absolutely no way to avoid flying, fly eco-class. While it might mean a little less legroom, traveling economy is the best option for traveling responsibly.

The less space one passenger uses, the more passengers can be on a plane, and the fewer emissions are produced.

That is why, per head, Ryanair claims to be the greenest airline in Europe. Overall, it’s the only airline mentioned amongst the top 10 polluters of Europe.

Flying eco is better than first or business class. Not flying at all beats flying of any kind on any day.

Remember to offset all unavoidable emissions with Atmosfair.

Go Car-Free.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: Low

When moving around your destination, take public transport, use bikes or walk. You’re on vacation – take your time to explore your surroundings!

Trips to and from the airport can be made with public transport as well or by hotel airport shuttle, which are often shared vans. 

How about Liveaboard Transport?

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: Medium

Cruise Ships are bad for the environment and your health, we all know that.

For an exciting option that combines transport and accommodation, you could consider becoming a crew member on a sailing boat. This allows you to get the most of your money, with the added perk of an amazing experience! Learn more with CrewBay.

Searching in respective networks might even score you a spot on the boat for free, in exchange for two helping hands.

Choosing Accommodation Responsibly

Sustainable accommodation is a topic very dear to our hearts at B’n’Tree. This is where the entire idea started – to make hotel stays more sustainable.

Beginning your booking on bedandtree.com is a great beginning. But there’s a lot more that a responsible traveler can do.

Related: Want to book accommodation and use B’n’Tree on the go? Here is how to use B’n’Tree like an app.

Check the Credentials.

Impact: High / Effort: High / Costs: Free

Compare your accommodation against this list of Green Best Practices for Hotels to see which they already have in place and inform them where improvements can be made.

Same as with our Responsible Travel Hacks, a lot of the Green Best Practices for Hotels require little effort to implement and are free or even save money in the long run, so there is no excuse not to change.

Choose Responsible Accommodation.

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

Nowadays many hotels put a high focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Speak with your preferred accommodation to find out which activities they are engaging in. Examples include planting trees, using clean energy, cleaning up the beaches, being plastic-free, mainly using local produce or supporting the local community.

Speak with your hotel, praise what they do well and offer ideas where they can improve. And then spend your money wisely.

You as a client have the power. If you don’t care, hotels won’t either.

My personal advice for sustainable travel is: “Be local!”

All our conference, city and holiday hotels in the group have their own individual style and they live locality. Some hotels focus on local producers and suppliers,

others keep themselves bee colonies on the roof, completely according to the principle 0 km = 100% taste.

Besides we have some energy self-suppliers and zero-emission hotels in our group. Many of our affiliated hotels provide electric cars and have e-charging stations directly at the hotel.

Alexander Birk, Head of Marketing Best Western Hotels and Resorts

Spend Wisely.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Particularly when on business travel, choose a hotel that values responsible tourism.

Are they certified with EarthCheck or similar? Alternative certifications are offered with Green Globe, the international benchmarking and certification system for the travel and tourism industry; CERES’ Green Hotel Initiative (GHI); Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Conventions (CERC); and Environmentally Friendly Hotels, Rainforest Alliance and the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

In case they don’t have certification, ask them about their eco-efforts.

Sustainability is about what you do, it is not a label or a stamp.

Look for organisations that guide you through their sustainability story – giving travellers a role to play in conservation initiatives and empowering them to give back to local communities. After all, the planet deserves more than half measures! 

Stewart Moore, CEO and Founder EarthCheck

The Smaller, the Better.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: SAVE

Similar to the ‘fly eco-class’ advice above: The cheaper your room, the smaller your emissions. Hostels have a much smaller ecological footprint per guest than 5* hotels, by the nature of their service. Same goes for local guesthouses.

In most 5* hotels you could be anywhere in the world, but what fun is that? You want to experience the destination right?

Do the “sense of place” test, if you look around, would you know what country, or even what continent you’re in? No? Find somewhere with more local charm.

What’s more, smaller places cost less money. Which leaves your wallet thicker to experience more on site.

Pitch Up!

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: SAVE

Camping is another great sustainable accommodation option. It’s not bookable via B’n’Tree, but you can always plant a tree on clickatree.com with some of that money you’ve saved by choosing a cheaper accommodation option. 

Think about WWOOFing.

Impact: High / Effort: High / Costs: SAVE

WWOOF is the acronym for ‘Willing Workers On Organic Farms’.

See local culture and get free accommodation in one – while gaining some work experience at the same time, often in jobs you would otherwise never score.

Chris, the B’n’Tree founder, became a kangaroo caretaker in Australia overnight. Just like that. No qualifications, no experience, nothing. Just a can-do-attitude.

WWOOFing is a great way to travel near or far from home, while learning about organic farming and immersing yourself in a different way of life. You will live alongside your host, helping with daily tasks and experiencing life as a farmer. Anyone is welcome to join WWOOF. The program operates in over 130 countries – you can learn more at wwoof.net.”

Tori Fetrow, Outreach Program Manager WWOOF-USA

Chris wwofing in Queensland, Australia, at the age of 19 in a kangaroo rescue center.

What will your wwoofing experience be?

Green Travel Guide Accommodation Tips for Sustainable Travel

While Choosing Accommodation Responsibly is about cleverly choosing where to stay, these accommodation tips for sustainable travelers are about the small green travel hacks while on site.

Don’t be shy to also share the B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide with the accommodation providers you are staying with. It is super valuable for them to know what matters to their guests.

When leaving, make sure to Pack Everything! 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: SAVE

It’s not that hard to take another good look at your room – but it’s amazing how many chargers, headphones and other bits and pieces are forgotten and then disposed of.

Don’t contribute to landfill or the throwaway culture, do an extra check before leaving your room.

And, again, besides the headache it saves you cash money not having to buy new equipment.

Don’t do your Laundry in hotels.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: SAVE

Hotels run one washing machine per guest, even if you just have two t-shirts to wash. And they are expensive!

Wash your gear in the sink if you have just a few items, or look for a self-service laundromat if you can fill up an entire machine. Either way is guaranteed to save you money compared to the hotel laundry service.

Shower, don’t Bathe.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

A quick shower uses less water than filling a bath. For bonus points (and more fun), shower with a friend – you’ll save even more water. And potentially on some heating afterward as well.

Keep It Short And Turn Taps Off

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

Never leave your shower or tap running unnecessarily. Take shorter showers, don’t keep the water running while brushing your teeth, lathering your shampoo, etc. Use the saved time to further explore your destination.

Use “Do Not Disturb” door signs. 

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

If your room doesn’t need cleaning (which it shouldn’t daily), use your door sign to let housekeeping know. You’ll be saving chemicals, the electricity for vacuuming, water for washing bed linens etc.

Some especially eco-conscious places like Crowne Plaza’s Copenhagen Towers even offer you a bar voucher when skipping housekeeping for a day. Another great example of how responsible travel can be rewarding, both for the planet and for you.

Take leftover single-use shampoo, soap, etc with you.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

In case you used the mini bathroom shampoos and soaps, take them with you. They are usually thrown away after each guest. Take them with you and donate to a charity or use them on your travels.

Make sure to inform the hotel that they should install refillable dispensers too; it saves the hotel money, and our planet some waste.

PRO Green Traveler Tip: Don’t use the mini bathroom amenities in the first place. Either because you don’t use soap and shampoo in general, or because you brought your own (see Packing Sustainably).

Pretend you’re at Home.

Impact: Low / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

Would you leave lights on, water running or have your bed sheets and towels changed every day at home? We hope not!

Think twice about whether you need housekeeping, AC, heating, or to have the TV on – you’re away from home after all. Switch off! 

Keep your Cool.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Sometimes there’s no getting around it, you need to use heating or AC.

If you do, remember that there’s no need to pre-heat or pre-cool. Room temperatures can be adjusted quickly, there is no need to start the air-con when going out for dinner and have it running two hours for nothing.

Food and Beverage Tips for Traveling Eco-Friendly

Food production is the single biggest influence on CO2 emissions worldwide. Luckily, the most responsible travelers know various hacks to not only reduce the negative impact, but increase the positive impact too.

Want to know their secrets? Let the B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide fill you in:

Eat Locally. 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: SAVE

Try seasonal local cuisine to get the tastiest and most eco-friendly meals. Make sure to support local restaurants too; there’s no need to visit big chains when you’re overseas. (As a matter of fact there’s hardly ever a need for that.)

You’ll support the local economy by using local restaurants who get their food from local suppliers. It’s likely to be cheaper, more authentic and much yummier too. 

Try Vegetarian or Vegan Food

Impact: High / Effort: Low  / Costs: SAVE

Give vegetarian or vegan meals a shot. If you’re not a vegetarian or vegan already, try it out for the duration of your travels. Make it a challenge by daring fellow travelers to do the same. You’d be surprised at what you encounter!

Despite common misconceptions going vegetarian doesn’t mean you can eat nothing but salad. There are tons of tasty options.

Meat production is the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – and you’re a lot more likely to catch a bug from eating meat or seafood.

The amount of water needed to make one burger is the same as what we drink in three years!

That’s also why meat is generally more expensive than vegetarian or vegan meals. Saving money rarely felt so good.

PRO Green Traveler Tip: Under certain circumstances it may be offensive to reject the food you are offered, no matter whether this is meat or otherwise. In this case, please be a respectful responsible traveler and accept what you are offered.

Find Food That’s Too Good To Go

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: SAVE

Too Good To Go is the word’s largest app dedicated to reducing food waste. It connects businesses who have surplus food at the end of the day, to users able to collect it. So it doesn’t end up being wasted and going to landfill and releasing harmful CO2.
 
Users who save this food from going to waste, are doing a good thing for the environment, and getting something delicious in return!
 
The app is available in 13 European countries with more on the way. Click here to download the app and save another meal from being wasted!

“A third of all food produced globally is wasted, which is crazy, and a massive waste of our resources. Luckily we have an amazing community of Too Good To Go ‘Waste Warriors’ who so far have saved food to the equivalent of more than 49 thousand tonnes of CO2. So come join us in our fight against food waste.

Mette Lykke, CEO Too Good To Go

Watch out for something Fishy.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

If you sample local seafood, choose ocean-friendly seafood. The WWF does a great guide

Create More Waste.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Low

Create more waste. Biological waste. Try out all the fruits and vegetables that are on offer on the local markets. Pick your favorites and make sure you have a constant supply available.

Eating fruit and vegetables makes your travels a lot more sustainable on various levels. Not just are local fruit & veg produced nearby, and hence carry a minimal eco-footprint, they also are super healthy, and hence make the journey a lot more sustainable for yourself.

Especially in hot places fruit and vegetables make for a perfectly light meal, and are inexpensive to come by. It’s usually a lot cheaper than buying imported snacks like crisps or chocolate bars.

Depending on your travel destination, consider the old bushman wisdom to avoid sickness: Cook it, peel it or leave it.

Say no to Straws!

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

Straws suck (unless they’re reusable). There’s no reason you can’t sip from glasses while away from home. You can do it at home, too.

Should for some reason you rely on straws (some medical conditions require people to use straws), pick up a stainless steel straw before you travel and keep it handy in your day bag (see Packing Sustainably – What to Take on your Travels).

Bag it up.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

If you plan on buying at markets, bring your own bags. Particularly in South East Asia, plastic bags are a big problem. Have a spare reusable bag handy (remember the packing hacks?) and learn to say “no bag, thanks” in the local language.

Have Snacks at hand.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Keep some Tupperware in your bag and fill it with healthy snacks, such as nuts. Better for the planet, better for you, and better for your bank balance.

Once the box is empty, refill it at the local market or with leftovers from the restaurant.

Opt for Organic where possible.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Medium

This is easier with some foods than others, but particularly with coffee and chocolate this is very possible wherever you are.

Organic products may cost a little more than non-organic foods and drinks, but the joy during consumption easily makes up for that.

Sustainable Traveling Onsite – The Basics

Traveling is not a right, it’s a privilege. There are certain responsibilities attached when it comes to traveling. Please at least honor the most crucial ones. 

Everyone has heard of the 6 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refill, Remove. But there’s a lot more you can do. Here are our B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide top tips for traveling responsibly.

Minimize Waste.

Impact: Medium  / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Avoid any single-use packaging and enjoy dine-in meals rather than takeaways. You’re away from home, so take time to relax.

No Littering.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

This should go without saying. At the risk of sounding like your mum, pick up your rubbish. Always.

“Pick up your rubbish. Always!”

Almost everyone’s mum

PRO Green Traveler Tip: Aim for a litter-negative travel balance. That means picking up more litter from the ground than you leave behind. Since you don’t litter, picking up one single piece a day achieves this goal. It’s one of those actions that inspires a lot of followers to do the same.

Go Plogging.

Impact: Medium  / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

‘Plogging’ is a portmanteau of the words ‘plocka upp’ and ‘jogging’. ‘Plocka upp’ means ‘to pick up’ in Swedish, where plogging was invented.

And, according to ADEC Innovations, Sweden is the world’s most sustainable country. Maybe we should all learn a lesson from them?

Join the latest craze by combining jogging and picking up trash. You don’t even have to go jogging, you can do it while walking as well.

Why not aim for five a day. Pick up five pieces of trash per day and dispose of them in a bin.

Beginner’s Advice: If you feel uncomfortable carrying other people’s trash with you bare hands, make it a rule to only pick up litter if you can see the next trash can somewhere ahead of you. That’s a great start!

Fun fact for fitness freaks: Plogging burns more calories and is more efficient than normal jogging, since all the bending down turns your run into a full-body exercise.

Reuse and Recycle.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Return maps and brochures to your hotel reception or the local tourist information. This lets them reuse them, saving them from landfill.

To avoid having maps in the first place, ask receptionists or tourist informations to simply point out directions to you. There is no need to mark them on a map.

That’s why our Green Travel Guide is entirely digital. And downloading the Green Travel Guide spreadsheet gives you access to the best travel hacks wherever you go, no matter whether there is internet connection or not.

Behave Yourself!

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

A big part of responsible travel isn’t just respecting the environment, it’s respecting the local people, religion and culture too.

Dress appropriately for the region you’re visiting, obey the signs which ask you to do/not to do certain things, and, if in doubt, ask!

Respecting the local customs and traditions isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also part of the fun of exploring a different culture.

Travel Slowly.

Impact: Medium  / Effort: Low  / Costs: SAVE

A different hotel every night results in more laundry, more transport emissions, and more stress.

Staying in one place and doing day excursions hence results in less laundry, less transport emissions, less stress and deeper immersion into the local culture.

In addition, traveling slower decreases the average spending per day.

It also gives you a higher chance of making friendships that last longer than a day, which is always cool.

Remember to share your favorite sustainable travel hacks with your fellow travelers!

Wash your Hands Cold.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

If you only need to give your hands a quick wash, turn the tap to cold. The water won’t get warm in those few seconds anyway, but if turned to hot, the heater will start working nonetheless, wasting resources unnecessarily. 

Learn the Lingo.

Impact: Medium  / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

Learn the local lingo. And use it! A few phrases such as “hello”, “please” and “thank you” attempted in the local language can go a long way!

Thanks to free apps like Duolingo you won’t have to pay a single Cent to learn some basics.

Don’t Support the Illegal Drug Trade.

Impact: High /  Effort: Low  / Costs: SAVE

Seriously, just don’t. This is bad for the country, bad for the locals, bad for tourism, bad for your health, and seriously bad for your future if you get caught.

And, unsurprisingly, it saves you some of your hard-earned money to not buy drugs.

Don’t Support Sex Tourism.

Impact: High  / Effort: Low  / Costs: SAVE

You may believe that locals sell their bodies voluntarily, but few do. Steer clear of the sex tourism industry, it’s poisonous for all involved.

Digital Detox.

Impact: Low / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

Live in the moment. You’re only here once – you can be on social media for the rest of your life.

Ditch the phone and treasure the moment. You’ll save your phone battery, electricity, and get more from your trip.

You can still share travel pics and make your friends jealous once you’re back home.

Here’s a great take on what Wandering Earl thinks about social media while traveling

Get off the phone and be present when you travel. The photos are great but if you don’t actually see or experience the place without the camera/phone in your hand or in front of your eyes, the benefits of travel are minimal. You can be on social media for the rest of your life so ditch the phone and treasure the moment. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Derek Earl Baron, Wandering Earl

Traveling Responsibly – How Not to Be a Dick

All these sustainable travel tips don’t mean a thing if you’re being a dick to people while you’re traveling. Yes, we said it. Some people lose their heads when traveling and become genuinely unpleasant to be around. Don’t be one of those persons. Here’s how you can be the best kind of traveler.

Lend Others a Hand.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free More of a travel hack for the responsible traveler rather than for sustainability, but help others on your travels. Whether it’s tourists looking for a place, locals carrying heavy load, etc. It’s the right thing to do and might bring you great experiences, connections and friendships.

Spread the Word.

Impact: High / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free Chances are you’ll meet fellow travelers while on tour. Tell them about B’n’Tree, Lilo, Atmosfair and all the others by sharing this article with them. Your sustainable travel efforts potentially double if you share them with one other person!    

Making Campfires The Right Way

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

We’re all for getting back to nature, but make sure you know what you’re doing and follow local regulations before lighting up a campfire. They can cause devastating issues if done wrong. 

Talk to People. 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

Have a chat to your cab driver, tour guide, street vendor, barmaid, waiter, anyone! Learn about their lives, childhood and future dreams.

We can all learn from each other and this will make your travel so much more rewarding.

PRO Green Traveler Tip: Without trying to evangelize anyone, share your thoughts about sustainability and the environment with them. A lot of people are not as aware of ecological issues as you are.

Your Dream Matters

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

Take a step back to think about what really matters to you in life, as well as what you will remember at the end of it. Make sure to act accordingly.

Take the advice from the Dream Developers Hermann and Katzi from Dreamicon Valley, two guys who have spoken to thousands of people about their dreams.

Ask people about their dreams – it’s the purest expression of freedom you can give to a person.
If they can’t find an answer ask about their childhood dreams and many times you can observe shining eyes. Encourage them to think about Santa Claus as a mentor = everything is possible what would you do. Or take the reverse engineering process = an eulogy about your own life.
What is really important to you at the end of your life and what are you waiting for.

Hermann and Katzi, Dreamacademia

Breathe Deeper. 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Breathing deeper helps you relax, calm down and make smarter decisions.

It’s a clever thing to do on any day of your life. Breathing deeper is your best friend to avoid stressing out.

“Breathing exercises are like a little holiday in between. Try to slow your breathing down to 6 breaths per minute (normally you take 12 to 20). If you do this twice a day for 10 minutes, this breathing can make pain more bearable, alleviate anxiety and depression, lower your blood pressure and reduce strain on your heart.

You’ll feel rested afterwards. And best of all: Conscious breathing is completely free and you can literally do it anywhere.”

Jessica Braun, Author of “Atmen” (“Breathe”)

Don’t Stress Out.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

Remember that, especially when you’re away from home, things work differently. You may have to wait for a bus, miss a flight, get stuck in traffic, get a different meal than what you have ordered or similar.

So what? Stressing out doesn’t help anyone. Be a responsible traveler and accept the local culture. It’s all part of the experience. And it will turn into great stories one day.

“In 2007, I missed my return flight from Australia back to Germany. It led me to stay in Australia for another year. Looking back, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.”

Chris Kaiser, B’n’Tree

Chris in Australia at Whitehaven Beach.

Who wouldn’t want to stay here just a little while longer?

Speak Up. 

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

If you see bad things happening, don’t hold back. Be a responsible traveler and intervene. Whether it’s people being harassed, animals being mistreated, too much plastic waste being produced, trash being dumped in a river or else.

You can of course intervene in a polite way, e.g. explaining that dumping trash in the ocean isn’t good – people may not know. But intervene nonetheless. Not acting makes you guilty as well.

Remember that you Represent Your Country. 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

Please behave in a way that puts your country in a good light. Don’t abuse people verbally or physically, don’t disrespect local customs and rather err on the side of caution if in doubt. As mentioned at the beginning: don’t be a dick. 

Ask before Taking Pictures of People.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

In some cultures, taking pictures equals trapping someone’s soul – which we hope is not what you’re intending to do.

If taking pictures, think for a second whether using a flash is appropriate in the current setting. (E.g. in religious places it’s not.)

Say ‘Yes’ More!

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: Free

The best experiences come from saying yes, especially when you’re hesitant at first. Yes, there may be things you won’t do under any circumstances, and that’s fine, but whenever you’re torn between yes and no, opt for yes. 

If in doubt, read the hilarious book “Yes Man” by Danny Wallace.

Should you need additional motivation, make it a challenge with Jallenges. It’s simple, free, and you have nothing to lose.

Yes, this is one of the official B’n’Tree post cards.

Get in touch if you want one.

Green Travel Guide Hacks for Touring and Experiences

Having new experiences is what we’re after from traveling. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons that we go in the first place. If you want to get more from your trip, this is the most important section for you.

Hire a Local Guide.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low / Costs: Low

Support the local economy by hiring a local guide and paying a fair price for his or her services.

There’s no need to overpay – but be fair. One dollar may not be much for you, but it goes a long way for a hard-working tour guide in a less fortunate country.

Choose Responsible Tour Operators.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: Medium

Choosing a responsible tour operator might take a little research, but pays out.

Usually they also take you off the beaten track, and you won’t share the sights or experiences with thousands of other travelers.

Make sure they employ local people and give back to the community. A responsible tour operator will also focus on nature preservation and sustainable tourism. 

Clean Up the Earth.

Impact: High / Effort: High / Costs: Free

Participate in a beach clean up or similar. You’ll gain local experience, meet people from the area, have lots of good fun, do a bit of exercise and it often comes with freebies like a free lunch for all your hard work. 

Take a look at the Clean The Beach Bootcamps. They combine a free, professional workout with cleaning the beaches.

“Burning fat is to the body what clearing trash is to the planet, both result in better health and better looks! A healthy body needs a healthy environment to live in.”

Krix Luther, Founder of Clean The Beach Bootcamps

If there’s none in your area, speak with your accommodation or the local tourist information. More often than not there are private initiatives happening.

Experience something Different.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: SAVE

How about a walk in a local cemetery? Or take a stroll through the woods?

There are plenty of ways you can explore a new destination without having to spend a single dime or create any emissions.

Always keep yourself safe and respect local customs – asking your hotel manager or other friendly locals about scenic routes from your accommodation is a great idea.

Travel Off the Beaten Track. But Stay On the Path.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

Travel off the beaten track – but stay on the physical path. No off-road adventures please.

Going off-road can erode or compact soil in earthy areas, degrading animal habitats and water quality, destroying wildflowers and vegetation, spreading invasive weeds, and frightening, injuring, or killing animals.

The same is true for the beach: Climbing over sand dunes can risk their integrity and cause erosion.

Don’t Feed or Touch Wildlife.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

The title says it all: it’s wild life. Unless explicitly told otherwise, don’t feed or touch animals that you encounter. Even with the best of intentions, you may be doing harm.

And, even with the best of intentions, the wild animal may be doing you harm.

Plant A Tree Onsite

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Low

Plant a tree wherever you go. Ask local people for tree-planting projects nearby. It creates jobs for locals in tree nurseries and helps save the planet.

Plus, in case you return in the future, you can see how your tree has grown. Alternatively, ask your local hosts to regularly send you updates.

Don’t visit Animal Shows.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

Animal shows, where animals are forced to perform unnaturally for the entertainment of tourists, are not a cool place to visit.

There are sustainable places, such as national parks, game reserves or also responsible tour operators with high focus on animal welfare where you can see wildlife.

There is no valid reason to support animal exploitation.

Responsible Snorkeling and Diving.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: Medium

Snorkeling and diving is an amazing experience to have while traveling. It’s even more amazing when done responsibly, so please make sure you’re helping to protect the area for future travelers.

Don’t step on coral, choose eco-friendly sunscreens, don’t touch any marine wildlife and choose operators that use environmentally friendly equipment (boats and such).

PRO Green Traveler Tip: Take a small bag onto your snorkeling or diving adventure to collect any trash you see floating around.

Snorkeling with wild whale sharks in Exmouth, Australia.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these amazing animals survived into the next century?

Leave No Trace.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

Also in general, but especially if you’re opting for outdoor experiences, such as camping, hiking etc, follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles.

Life ain’t no Bucket List. 

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

Do things that genuinely interest you. Take your time to do them. Don’t do stuff just for the sake of doing them or having a picture to show off.

When all is said and done, people have their own lives to worry about, so what does it really matter if you have a “like” worthy photo if you didn’t enjoy your time traveling?

Your number of likes are forgotten by next week. Experiences you truly treasure stick with you for life.

Green Travel Guide Shopping Hacks

Of course you’re going to want to buy some souvenirs while you’re abroad, either for yourself or for friends and family. Here are a few tips on how to make your overseas shopping more sustainable.

Visit Local Shops – Buy Local Stuff. 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: Low

Not only do you help the local economy by avoiding the larger stores, but you also preserve local culture. Last but not least, you’re getting things that are a lot more authentic.

Refrain from Aggressive Bargaining. 

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Low 

You’re in their country, meaning you can afford an overseas trip. Can they?

Haggling itself is often part of the culture, so yes, you should haggle. Don’t just go for the first price offered, but aim for a win-win.

Ask yourself: Do you really need to bargain for the very last few cents? 

Especially when buying at local shops, those few cents can mean a lot more to the vendor than they do to you.

Avoid Imported Stuff.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

Why travel to Malaysia just to buy something made in China? Support the local economy and travel sustainably by buying locally produced souvenirs and gifts.

Don’t Buy Animal Stuff. 

Impact: High / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

Never, ever, buy anything that is made from an animal. That includes endangered or under-threat living things, such as corals. You can find out what’s endangered on www.cites.org. If in doubt, don’t take it. 

Don’t take Souvenirs from Nature.

Impact: Low / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

A responsible traveler doesn’t take souvenirs from nature, such as shells, coral etc. Leave those beautiful items where they belong for the next person to enjoy too.

Less Is More.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: SAVE

Do you really need that colorful bit of tat? Saving money saves the planet. If you do buy stuff: can you buy recycled or even upcycled things?

Thoughtful Souvenirs

Impact: Medium / Effort: High / Costs: Low

Of course you’d like to bring your friends and loved ones some souvenirs back home.

Have you considered thoughtful souvenirs already? Instead of buying things nobody needs, why not gift time instead of stuff?

Original ideas for thoughtful souvenirs include a joint Thai cooking evening after your Thailand trip, a yoga session upon your return from India or visiting a salsa party after mixing some cocktails together to share the Caribbean joie de vivre with your friends.

Don’t you think these joint events will delight your friends a lot more than some nick-nack that only collects dust on the shelf?

Experiences Beat Stuff 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Low  / Costs: High

Producing stuff takes resources, generates emissions and produces waste. While that might hold true for experiences as well, there are lots of experiences that have a very small ecological footprint per user.

What do you think your money is better spent on? That bungee jump you took, or the fridge magnet you bought?

Concerned about supporting the local economy? Well then – give that bungee jump instructor a fair tip and buy a delicious snack from a street-food vendor on your way home.

Chris bungee jumping in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in 2007.

How well do you remember the fridge magnets you bought that year?

Sustainable Travel: The Aftermath

Traveling changes us. You cannot be a traveler overseas only and return home the same person you were before.

The same applies to being a responsible traveler – once you wander down that route, you should apply certain principles back home as well.

Most of the hacks listed in our Green Travel Guide can be applied at home as well.

In addition, there are a few further things you can do to help our planet upon returning home.

“After the game is before the game.”

Sepp Herberger, manager of the West German national football team in 1954

Related: Want to continue planting trees after having returned home? Here is how to plant more trees – even when not traveling.

Spread the Word. 

Impact: High / Effort: Low  / Costs: Free

Talk about your experiences and what you did. Encourage others to do the same. Share this article with them to ensure they’re traveling responsibly as well.

Rave about Good Stuff.

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

Whether on TripAdvisor, Holidaycheck, Facebook or Instagram, share the best parts of your travel and let people know where credit is due.

Before posting negative comments online and potentially ruining the credibility and hence the business of local tour operators or hotels, get in touch with these places first and see if you can find a mutually agreeable solution.

Keep up the Connections. 

Impact: Medium / Effort: Medium / Costs: Low

If you’ve made friends while traveling, maintain them. Send your local host and tour guide the images you took together. Keep in touch – maybe one day they’ll come visit you, too!

Become an Entrepreneur.

Impact: High / Effort: High / Costs: High

If you really want to make a change in this world, start up your own business. You can come up with innovative climate-saving solutions or begin an import business with stuff from the local craftsmen you met.

It is not easy, and takes a lot of effort, but the impact you can have beats everything else mentioned in our Green Travel Guide.

The softer version of becoming an entrepreneur is to reconsider your current employer. Maybe you could have a positive impact on our planet by changing jobs?

Share your Resources.

Impact: Low / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

If you used guidebooks or took home tourist maps, share them with friends, the local library or bookshelves. Or sell them on to start refilling your travel wallet.

And did we already mention to also share this Green Travel Guide?

Feedback to Businesses.

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

Contact any hotels, airlines, tour operators, restaurants and other companies that you used to let them know what you enjoyed, and also offer some ideas of how they can improve.

As a guest you have a lot of power, since without guests those businesses wouldn’t make any money. Tell them what you’re willing to spend money on! Follow up on your messages to ensure action is taken.

PRO Green Traveler Tip: Also contact the companies you did not purchase from due to lacking eco standards and let them know why you didn’t patronize their business.

Contact the Tourism Board

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

In addition to contacting big companies, also contact the tourism board of the destination you explored. Share your green travel ideas with them, and highlight that for you as traveler nature conservation is important.

Maybe they can move the country towards becoming single-use plastic free, reducing emissions or starting their own tree-planting program. If France planted a tree for every incoming visitor, we’d have half a billion additional trees per year!

Feel free to use our B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide to share with the tourism boards, and highlight which aspects are most important to you. Make sure to follow up a little later to see if any changes are being undertaken.

Bring what you’ve learned Home.

Impact: High / Effort: Medium / Costs: Free

Apply everything you’ve learned about traveling responsibly at home as well. Do less laundry, use less electricity, shop locally etc.

After pretending to be at home while away, pretend to be a tourist now that you’re back. It makes being back home a lot more fun too, and you’ll discover tons of new places.

Most of these 100+ sustainable travel tips can be used at home as well. Download the Green Travel Guide spreadsheet to conveniently filter these hacks by which ones you can apply at home.

BONUS: The Green Travel Guide Soundtrack

As a bonus for reading the B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide until the very end, we would like to share our favorite travel soundtrack with you.

The song is written by South African songwriter Jack Mantis. His guitar skills are complemented by half a dozen artists from all across the globe, making this a truly intercontinental masterpiece.

It was put together by Ben and Hannes, two guys who sailed around the world for close to five years to meet musicians.

“It is difficult to grasp how much trust we received. We were welcomed everywhere with open arms and now have friends all over the world. We are definitely not the same people as we were before.”

Hannes and Ben, World Travelers, Movie Blown Away

You can find out more about these two, listen to more sensational songs and check out their super inspiring boat trip movie “Blown Away” on SailingConductors.com.

But first, listen to the B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide Soundtrack “Radiate”.

More Sustainable Travel Hacks?

So, there we have it – 100+ travel hacks compiled in one single massive Green Travel Guide to help make sustainable travel a breeze.

Thanks for caring about this awesome world that we live in, and for using your travel adventures for the power of good. Stay safe, travel responsibly, and spread the word. 

Have we missed one of your best eco-friendly travel tips? Comment below for a special mention next time we update the list, and join our B’n’Tree Green Travel Guide discussion on Facebook about the latest eco-travel hacks to exchange thoughts with fellow travelers.

And while you’re being social: Share and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Word of mouth is a powerful means to make a change. Use that power to do good!

Last but not least: Sign up for our newsletter to be kept in the loop. We plant a tree for every new subscriber – for free!

Thank you for being awesome!

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