Travel is, without a doubt, one of the most soul-nourishing experiences there is. Immersing ourselves in other cultures, learning about the world, trying new foods, and engaging in different activities are all incredible ways in which we can gain a better understanding of others, ourselves, and the planet as a whole.

New-age travel however, seems to have departed from the way it used to be – a trip a year to a prized destination that would be talked about and reminisced over for months to come. Now, travelling has in a way, become too easy and too convenient, which in turn has rendered it almost meaningless. While we’re all for free global movement and enhancing our education via lived experiences, influencer culture, cheap flights, and the desperate need for an escape has channelled tourism into just another aspect of our insatiable consumption society where we often fail to consider the effects mass vacationing has on certain destinations.

Ticking off a site-seeing list, staying in foreign-owned resorts, and purchasing cheap souvenirs over real, home-grown crafts are just some of the ways in which the industry and local cultures are negatively impacted.

Conscious travellers are aware of the effects the industry has on the planet, on vulnerable communities, and on cultures that are quickly becoming commodified. How can we do better?

Here are some ways to travel sustainably and consciously. Keep these tips in mind before you book your next trip!


1. Don’t Bring Travel-Size Toiletries:

When we travel, we often pack disposable mini toiletries with us, which we use and dump once they’re empty. While this makes sense from a space and weight perspective (especially for carry-on bags and for those trending in-flight wellness rituals), it’s incredibly destructive to the earth. In fact, it’s estimated that around 100 million miniatures are purchased every year in the UK alone, equaling around 980 tons of plastic waste. Since only about 9% of plastic packaging is recycled, all of these minis end up in landfill, further contributing to our immense plastic problem. Additionally, dumping these little guys in your host country places a rather large burden on the nation you’re visiting, especially those who might already struggle with effective waste and recycling programs, or those that have unjustly become dumping grounds for wealthier nation’s refuse. This is quite contradictory to the idea of “leave nothing behind” when travelling.


2. Bring Your Own Reusable Water Bottle:

It goes without saying that water bottled in disposable plastic is one of the worst things for the environment, and for people. I won’t get into the ethical side of things and how companies like Nestle are using fresh water reserves that marginalized, majority world, and impoverished communities rely on, but from an environmental perspective, bottled water truly sucks. In Ontario alone, 1 billion bottles end up in landfill and in the environment every year.


3. Reduce Plastic Waste:

Sampling the culinary delights in foreign countries is one of the best parts about travelling, especially when it comes to street food. What isn’t so great though is all the disposable plastic that comes with it. In the US alone, 40 billion plastic utensils are thrown away every year! Instead of just accepting the disposable cutlery that comes with every dish you try, consider packing your own reusables. This works well for the days you just want to get takeout and chill in your hotel room too. Make a little zero-waste kit to keep in your purse or backpack as you tour around. This can include a set of reusable cutlery, reusable straws, cloth produce bags for fruit stall goodies, a reusable/collapsible coffee cup, and a cloth napkin. You can also make sure to stash a few extra tote bags for any shopping you’ll do.

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