The big "green" push has helped to usher in a new era of environmental consciousness in travel.

The impacts of going green can be seen all around the world, from the Maldives to Maui and all points in between. Nowadays, it is rare to check into a hotel and not see a reminder in your room about how you can make your stay more eco-friendly. For travellers, there are now more opportunities than ever to be eco-friendly when hitting the road. Here are five easy ways to make your travels greener:

1. Vampire blues

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” said Lao-tzu, the sixth-century BC philosopher. So make your first step be the unplugging of all of your chargers and appliances. Even on standby, electronics can still suck a large amount of energy. The US Department of Energy calls this “vampire energy,” and estimates it accounts for five percent of all electronic consumption in the United States. The biggest offenders are TVs, microwaves, and phone and computer chargers. Remember, any rechargeable item will continue to consume electricity even after it is fully charged.

2. Just say no… to travel-size products

Sure, miniature-sized bottles of your favorite face wash may be convenient and even kind of cute, but they’re a big drain on the environment, and grossly overpriced when compared to their full-size brethren. Instead, travel with reusable toiletry containers. And speaking of reusable items, carry a water bottle with you whenever you can, as it’s not always easy to find recycling options on the road.

Filling up at one of the many public water fountains in Rome, Italy.

3. Remember, the friendly skies are blue, not green

As airlines wage price wars with one another and consumer gas prices continue to rise, more and more people are turning to air travel. Sometimes, it’s inevitable, but other times (especially for domestic travel) there may be other transportation options to make your journey more eco-friendly. If possible, consider taking the bus or train. Public transportation is the greenest option when it comes travelling. And if you do have to fly, try to utilize public transport to and from the airport and, whenever possible, fly direct, as taking off and landing burns a lot of fuel. When you get back home, offset the carbon footprint of your flight. By investing in eco-friendly projects with a carbon offset coupon, you’ll be able to reduce the impact of your flight’s carbon dioxide emissions on the environment.

Riding the regional train in Italy.

4. Make like Kermit the Frog and stay green

Choose to stay in eco-friendly accommodations whenever possible. Since green has become the new black, it’s easier than ever to find green hostels and hotels. Furthermore, support destinations that participate in geo-tourism and sustainable tourism. These practices help to ensure that destinations are protected for future generations, and that tourism revenue is used to promote conservation efforts as well as to educate visitors about the region’s history and culture.

5. Don’t check your green ways when you check-in

You’ll likely be reminded of this in your hotel room, but if not, remember to turn off the air conditioning, TV, and lights whenever you leave the room. Also, reuse your towels and sheets by following the hotel’s instructions for keeping your linens from being replaced by housekeeping.

Got an eco-travel tip that we missed? Let us know about it in the comments!


Getting There

G Adventures runs a number of departures with wide range of dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this wonderful planet as you’ve never seen it — check out our small group trips here.

Article originally published in 2014 and updated July 2020.