15 Ways To Be A Better Eco Traveller

We always try to travel as sustainably as possible and here are our top tips to becoming a better Eco Traveller!

As travellers, we already have more of a responsibility to be more conscious of our actions. Travel itself can wrack up a hefty carbon footprint. But don’t worry, there are a few different ways we can tackle that!

We try very hard to be Eco Travellers when we travel and some of the things we make sure to do all the time are travel by bus, travel in off seasons and use filtered water bottles. However, there are many more ways to travel sustainably, so allow me to give you some tips that we’ve learned over the last 10 years of travel.

a girl walking through the forest in costa rica

What Is An Eco Traveller?

You may be asking yourself, what does Eco Travel even mean? Or how can I be more of an Eco Traveller? Well, simply put, Eco Travel just means being a responsible traveller.

Anyone can be an Eco Traveller, as long as they make conscious decisions and put the health of the planet and its inhabitants at the forefront of the decisions they make.

15 Ways To Be A Better Eco Traveller

It is important to remember that it’s not a race or competition and we all just need to do our part no matter how big or small. Eco Travellers can make changes in the way they travel around, where they eat, where they stay, how they spend their time and more.

I’m sure there are probably plenty more ways to be an Eco Traveller on top of this, but these are 15 ways we try to live by on all our trips;

How To Get Around As An Eco Traveller

Travelling around and choosing the best modes of transport can make a huge impact on the environment.

1 – Take Buses instead of private cars

When travelling from A to B it is always better for the planet to share transport. In general, the more people in a vehicle the better because of fewer vehicles on the road.

We are also big fans of night buses for long distances as you save money on a night’s accommodation and don’t miss a day of your trip on a bus.

We like to travel by bus because it is also often the cheapest way to travel.

🚌 We like to use Busbud to book our buses when we are travelling

a man walking towards a bus in a bus station

2 – Avoid domestic flights and travel overland instead

This is not always possible of course, but more often than not it will be. Most of the world is well connected with public buses and trains that can get you across long distances. It’ll just take a bit longer than a flight.

Travelling overland is nearly always cheaper than flying and definitely far better for the planet.

Sometimes you may need to get creative like we did when we chose to sail from Panama to Colombia because it is impossible to go by bus. But it isn’t always possible to avoid flying. We did have to take a domestic flight while in Peru as the buses weren’t running due to a part of the route being unsafe at that time.

That’s the beauty of travel.

a pirate ship moored at a white sand beach with people in the water around it

3 – Travel slowly and avoid being on the move too often.

A great way to be more of an Eco Traveller is to slow it right down. Spend longer in one place and really get to know an area. Not only does it reduce the number of travel days and transport you take. It also causes far less stress and is typically a lot cheaper if you’re on a budget.

During our travels, we try to spend longer in a few places to give ourselves a chance to slow down. For example, whilst in Central America we spent 2 weeks in Antigua and 2 weeks in Leon in Nicaragua. We spent 3 weeks in Medellin in Colombia.

What And Where To Eat As An Eco Traveller

4 – Avoid fast food chains

It should go without saying that one of the easiest ways to be an Eco Traveller both whilst travelling and also while at home is to avoid fast food chains. It is always far better to support local restaurants and street food vendors.

5 – Shop at local markets

Avoiding imported food and shopping for local fresh food at a market is not only super wholesome but great for the environment and supporting the local farmers. Not all fresh goods in supermarkets are imported, so it’s worth checking first to see if they are local or not.

We know a supermarket is often far easier than finding a proper market but a quick Google search can lead to a great find. For example, we spent a day in the biggest market in South America and got to try lots of great fruits and local snacks.

fruit stall at a local market in central america

6 – Eat more plant-based foods

It is mostly common knowledge nowadays, that the meat and dairy industries use ridiculously large amounts of natural resources to produce very little. One of the easiest and most effective ways we can be more eco-friendly to the planet and all animals is to eat more plant-based foods.

Don’t worry, we have a blog that can help with this one. Check out, is it hard to be vegan while backpacking? Having been vegan for 9 years, I will always help anyone wanting some advice on this lifestyle change.

We also use the Happy Cow app wherever we go to find vegan and vegetarian spots to visit.

a plate of eco-friendly vegan tacos in Mexico

7 – Use a filter water bottle

This one is a real game-changer!

We use the Water-To-Go, water bottles with filters. It means we have not bought a single plastic water bottle on this trip (except for one LARGE bottle in Mexico because the tap water in our apartment was salty, which kills the filter).

We can fill it with any fresh water source and know it will be safe for us to drink. It’s just great. Plastic is a huge problem for our poor planet. Especially while travelling, it is easy to fall into the trap of buying bottled water to ensure you don’t get sick.

Well, this is the solution to both problems. The filters last about 3 months and are easy to replace.

💧 Check out the Water-To-Go Filter Bottles Here!

an eco traveller with a filter bottle refilling it in a stream

Where To Stay As An Eco Traveller

8 – Stay in locally owned guesthouses and hostels

As opposed to staying in resorts or chain hotels. It is always best to support local business owners and families. Often they also give the best and most authentic experiences.

Nothing beats staying in a cosy family-run guest house with a fresh home-cooked breakfast to start your day. One of our favourite places we stayed in Central America was in a small family-run guesthouse in Santa Ana, the owner was an angel and really made us feel welcome.

a man sitting on a bench in a guest house in central America

These are our favourite hostels in Central America!

9 – Avoid overly touristy destinations

It can be very appealing to follow the safety of the crowd. It often means it will be easier too. But with too much tourism soon comes problems for locals. Overly developed areas usually end up mostly owned by rich foreigners, not locals.

Chains and resorts swoop in and take over. Local people, nature and wildlife will also suffer as areas expand too quickly. It is always more rewarding to visit lesser-known places and get a true feel for a place.

What To Do As An Eco Traveller

10 – Choose activities that encourage and educate about local cultures and sustainable practices

When visiting a new town or city there is usually a walking tour you can do to learn about the history of the area. Or eco farms with daily tours. Lots of places are really trying their best to be more sustainable and eco-friendly.

These are the kinds of places we should seek out and go and support along the way.

a local coffee farmer standing next to his coffee plants in Colombia

11 – Avoid the animal tourism industry

There are so many ways that animals are used when it comes to tourism and it’s safe to say none of them are good. It’s up to us to make sure we don’t support it in any way and sometimes it’s easier than others.

For example, if you want to do a hike in the mountains, then choose the options that have porters rather than mules to carry your things. If you want to see Elephants then go on a safari and not on an Elephant ride. Practice your wildlife photography and snapping shots of monkeys in trees rather than getting an easy shot with one on a chain.

It’s all the little things that will add up and make a huge difference.

a capuchin monkey laying in a tree in costa rica

Here are some extra tips for seeing wildlife the right way.

12 – Choose activities that consume fewer natural resources

This one refers to the amount of fuel or energy an activity might use. For example, sea kayaking, hiking and bungee jumping all use pretty much no natural resources. But a helicopter ride, jet skiing and dirt biking all use fuel of varying degrees.

Here are some of the best hikes in Central America to give you some inspiration.

Now I’m by no means a killjoy. If you want to do something epic then do it! Life is short after all.

But if you are simply torn between 2 options of what to do today then perhaps ask yourself; what would my inner Eco Traveller choose?

a man zip lining through the trees

13 – Leave no trace

This should always go without saying, but you’d be surprised by how many remote places we have been to and still see graffiti and litter. If you go into nature then make sure to take everything with you when you leave. It’s the least you can do.

If you’re feeling extra eco-warrior then you could always carry a small bag and collect some rubbish to take away with you. We like to do this at beaches. Every little bit helps.

Extra Tips For Being An Eco Traveller

14 – Wear coral-safe sunscreen

Super simple, but the coral reefs are incredibly fragile and super important to the planet. So even the smallest thing we can do to help them is worth it.

15 – Take a reusable bag with you

I have a tote bag I bought at a local market in India and I take it everywhere I go. It makes a great beach bag but also a great shopping bag if we go to a market or shop. This way we don’t have to get a plastic bag.

Also, be careful with plastic bags because more and more countries are banning them.

***BONUS Eco Traveller Tip – VOLUNTEERING

This is one of our favourite ways to boost our sustainability and give back to locals and the planet.

If you have time to slow down then the best way to spend your time is volunteering with a local eco project/farm or even animal rescue or sanctuary. It is really important to do some research and make sure that where you’re going to invest your time is legit. Once you find somewhere it is a brilliant way to travel.

I have personally volunteered at animal rescues in Ecuador, Thailand, India and Mexico. Check out our experience volunteering in Holbox, Mexico for some Inspiration.

a man walking a rescue dog on the beach in mexico

Eco Travel & Ways To Be An Eco Traveller – Final Thoughts

So there you have it, 16 ways in total that you can use to travel more sustainably and work on to be a better Eco Traveller.

The planet will thank you and so do we. Even if we all only do our small part, it will all make a difference in the end.