Eco-Friendly Travel Tips

Traveling provides wonderful memories and great adventures!  This year my family went to Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  It was a beautiful, small town with lots of hiking, fishing and biking around the town.  We loved it!

Do you have a favorite place you and your family love to go; a cabin in the woods or a sunny warm beach vacation? 

This trip I decided to be more eco-conscious.  I say ‘I decided’ because it was a choice.  I had to prepare to change my habits. 

It’s easy to stop and pick up food on the way.  No matter the size of the towns or airports along the way, there are bound to be fast-food restaurants offering quick bites and tons of plastic to go with your quick meal.  I know, because that’s what I did.

Traveling can be challenging.  Tons of things can go wrong, flight delays and flat tires can derail even the best- laid plans but here are 4 tips to reduce and eliminate the waste you use and become an eco-friendly traveler no matter your method of travel. 

So here are 3 easy to remember names for the following tips. Bring PAM, WB (web) and RYP (rip) on your next trip. It’s silly by these simple names help me remember these eco-friendly travel tips.

Pack-A-Meal  (or two) (PAM)

Think about how long you’ll be traveling.  Is it a 3-hour drive or is it a 7-hour plane trip with 2 stops?

Once you know how long you’ll be traveling, you can plan what to bring to eat.  Think about those meals you’ll buy on the road.  It’s mostly plastic, from the tray the food came on, the utensils, the straw, the bag it came in, and the plastic lined paper cup. 

Unless you plan to recycle while driving it’s likely all of this will just go in the bulk trash bin outside.  And, even if you could recycle it, most of it would be contaminated with food waste since you can’t wash it off unless you are going into the restroom wash all of this plastic off.

Use reusable containers for the food and wash them when you arrive at your destination.  Need a new travel containers? Try this metal bento-style one. 

For this trip we packed  a cooler with turkey, cucumber and lettuce tortilla wraps with nuts and yogurt covered pretzels (from a bulk bin).

Since you can’t bring a cooler on the plane, I usually pack peanut butter and raisin tortilla wraps with the same snack items.    

Bring a Water Bottle (WB)

For my family, we bought this double-walled reusable water bottles to take with us pretty much everywhere. 

(Just like this one)

This is the one we bought for our family and we love them. Pack one in your carry-on and fill it up when you get past security.  Lots of airports provide cool great tasting water at water bottle refill stations.

If you’re road-tripping, fill it up at your local convenience store before you begin instead of using the provided Styrofoam cups or buying your drink in a plastic bottle.

I have yet to be denied the request to fill my cup.  Along with major coffee chains, major convenience stores also offer $0.10 discounts for refills.

Pack Light – Re-wear your pants (RYP)

No matter which way you travel, packing less will save fuel consumption.  You are probably thinking “Katie, will it make a difference if I don’t pack an extra t-shirt?” Of course it will!  If you packed 1 less t-shirt every time you traveled it would add up. 

Another option is to re-wear clothing items. (Gasp!) I know.  But hear me out.  What if you packed only one pair of pants or shorts and coordinating shirts to match?  Unless you are giving a presentation or having dinner with a dignitary I don’t think it will matter if you re-wear your pants.

Drive, don’t Fly*   (*if more than 1 person traveling)

I calculated the CO₂ impact for our trip to Pagosa Springs, Colorado per person and if I were the only person traveling, the CO₂ impact would have been almost the same.  However, because we were driving with 4 people, the CO₂ impact was almost 3x as much to fly versus to drive.  

Driving was the clear winner for this trip.  We saved a lot of money and almost 2,500lbs of CO₂ but had to spend an estimated 3 extra hours in the car. 

Want to calculate your next trip? Fly or Drive Calculator.


Try out these easy eco-friendly travel tips and you’ll help eliminate waste and reduce plastic production. 

These changes to your travel don’t cost you a thing but it saves the environment from converting CO₂ to oxygen and waiting almost a century to degrade your plastic fork.

              Do you have tips for easy transitions you use as an eco-friendly traveler?  I’d love to hear about them.





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