5 Eco-Friendly Travel Habits

Whether you dream of seeing all 50 states or jet-setting across the globe, travel is a life-enriching experience that many of us enjoy. But how do you balance your passion for travel with your desire to be a more responsible, eco-friendly citizen of the world? You can do more than you might think. At least according to Halie Tenor, a sustainability analyst here at American Family Insurance.

Halie has always been interested in exploring new parts of the world. But she’s well aware of how quickly it can increase the size of her carbon footprint. So, she looked into ways to travel more sustainably, allowing her to see the world while also doing her part to save it.

Take a page from her book and tackle your next trip with these tips in mind.

Purchase carbon offsets. “Carbon offsets cancel out greenhouse gas emissions somewhere else in the world,” explains Halie. “When you purchase an offset, that money goes towards programs like reforestation, renewable energy or clean cooking stove projects. So even though your travel may have a negative effect on the environment, this is a good way to make up for it.”

How do you go about purchasing a carbon offset? There are a few different ways. Some airlines give you the option to buy them directly through their sustainability programs. Many companies and nonprofits also offer them — specifically the Arbor Day Foundation or the Carbon Fund. Look into your options and budget them right into your trip! It’s a lot more affordable than you’d expect.

Limit air travel when you can. Although it may be tempting to take a trip across the world, you might consider going somewhere more local instead — at least more often than not. Because taking a road trip is typically more eco-friendly than hopping on a plane.

“Air travel is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and, therefore, climate change,” says Halie. “So limiting your air travel is the best thing you could do to reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re traveling a short(ish) distance, consider driving.”

And good news — carbon offsets can be purchased to balance out your road trips, too!

Be smart with transportation. Something a lot of people fail to consider when traveling is how they’re going to get around once they reach their destination. But it goes without saying, renting a car isn’t the most eco-friendly answer. So what should you do?

“When you arrive, consider biking or using public transportation instead of renting a car,” encourages Halie. “And if that doesn’t work for you, use ride share apps and opt for the pool feature so you can share rides and cut down on emissions.”

Opt for eco-friendly lodging. Instead of booking the cheapest hotel, make a point to search for a LEED certified Airbnb or boutique hotel.

“Some places use solar or wind power and may even harvest rainwater,” says Halie. “By staying at one of these rentals, you’re actively supporting eco-friendly practices.” Respect the local environment. When you’re away from home, it can be easy to fall out of your good habits and make choices out of convenience. But being mindful of the world around you is important — especially in high traveled areas.

“Respect the local environment,” encourages Halie. “Handle your trash responsibly and leave plants and animals as you found them. And act as an example for others to do the same.”

When it comes to acting on your wanderlust, you don’t have to feel guilty. After all, exploring the world will only lead you to love and respect it more! And implementing these smart travel habits will make all the difference.

“You won’t single-handedly solve climate change by doing these things,” says Halie. “But you will be taking responsibility for your actions as an individual. And if everyone did that, we would see large scale change.”

So spread the word. It’s time to travel more sustainably!