Sustainable travel isn't a trend. It's necessary if we want to explore the world and leave it a better place. From opting for eco-friendly modes of transportation to going digital, there are many ways to leave a smaller footprint. Here are five sustainable travel tips for the next time you venture abroad.

5 Sustainable Travel Tips

According to National Geographic, some 42 percent of Americans are willing to prioritize sustainability over other values during travel. But what does that mean?

Sustainability means a lot of different things to different people. From environmental concerns to how tourism affects local communities, there are many things to consider when you travel. 

Sustainability broadly encompasses behaviors and preferences that help meet our needs without compromising the needs of those around us.
Here are five ways to embrace that on your next trip.

Person looking out the window on a train in India

1. Choose Alternate Ways to Travel

Research shows that aviation travel accounts for 3 percent of all CO2 emissions. A round-trip flight from LAX to Bangkok puts just over three tonnes of CO2 into the air — just under what a single car emits in a year.

Many people are rethinking air travel and considering other modes of transportation. The next time you head out, think about taking a train, bus, car, or even motorbike.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Travel slowly. When you aren't in a rush, you don't need to opt for fast modes of travel. Plus, taking a train or a bus is an adventure in its own right.
  • Travel like a local. Are motorbikes prevalent in your area? What about bicycles? Often, these modes of travel are not just cheaper and more convenient, but they're also more eco-friendly.
  • Opt for shared rides. From songthaews to shared taxis, look for ways to share your journey with others.

woman hiking and holding a reusable water bottle

2. Dispose of the Disposables

Did you know that we collectively use one million plastic bottles each minute? The vast majority of them don't get recycled.

Of course, it's not just plastic bottles that you can replace. From utensils to clothing, replacing disposables with high-quality and durable alternatives can help keep your travel sustainable. There's one catch: Resist the urge to throw everything out and replace it immediately. Instead, reuse what you have until it wears out. Then replace it with something better.

Likewise, avoid buying "travel clothes" you'll only wear once. Not only does the fashion industry pollute intensely, but it's unlikely you need so many new items for your trip. Instead, repurpose clothing you already have and only purchase what is essential. 

person using contactless payment with mobile phone

3. Go Digital As Much As Possible

It's super simple to go digital these days. With the internet becoming ubiquitous, many places are turning to digital modes of operation to lure tech-savvy tourists.

To go digital, we recommend that you:

  • Use e-tickets when they're an option
  • Download apps for services you use to make it easier to access paperwork
  • Opt for e-visas if they're available
  • Send digital postcards
  • Use an eSIM
  • Get digital brochures or brochures you can return when finished
  • Use contactless payment methods like Apple Pay whenever possible

Person using Airalo eSIM on a smartphone

4. Get an eSIM

SIM cards may be small, but they pack a CO2 punch. According to the International Card Manufacturers Association, a single SIM card puts about 50 grams of CO2 into the atmosphere during manufacturing. That may not seem like a lot until you consider that some two billion of them are manufactured yearly — for smartphones alone. 

Getting an eSIM is one of the best things you can do to offset SIM card waste. Instead of picking up a local SIM card everywhere you travel (many of which will be single-use), download data packages onto your eSIM-capable phone.

With an eSIM, you stay connected, have access to all your travel apps, and won't contribute to unnecessary carbon emissions.

dyed threads

5. Skip the (Typical) Souvenirs

When it comes to souvenirs, less is more. Skip the airport souvenirs aisle (do you really need another fridge magnet?) and instead try to choose unique, locally-made items that are:

  • Thoughtfully chosen from local vendors
  • Handcrafted (e.g., woven baskets, textiles, pottery, or jewelry) 
  • Natural and/or organic
  • Ethically produced
  • Unharmful to wildlife or other animals

Embrace a More Sustainable Way to Travel with Airalo

Sustainable travel has become a significant focus of travelers and the travel industry, and it's not just a trend. 

We've covered five ways you can introduce sustainability into your next trip. By making thoughtful decisions, you can enjoy your travels while respecting the needs of the people, culture, and corner of the planet you visit. 

A sustainable first step is to switch to eSIM technology. Explore the Airalo marketplace to find an eSIM for your next adventure.