Make every day Earth Day

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It’s a beautiful world and so much to discover. Knowing that travel contributes to my carbon footprint, I look for ways to travel responsibly and sustainably as much as I can. It does require intentional planning, but so worth the effort to protect our beautiful world. Here are just a few tips.

Pack light

Lighter bags means lighter planes, which means less fuel burned. Packing light is an area of constant development for me – but I am learning. And will be put to the test when I travel to Madrid, Spain next month as I’m challenging myself to fit seven days in a carryon.

Shopping totes make great souvenirs

Reusable shopping bag from my visit to Maui in December

We used to buy and collect souvenirs every place we traveled – magnets, tshirts, shot glasses, playing cards. Most of which just collects dust or ends up donated. Now I’m making a habit of packing a reusable shopping tote from where I’ve visited or purchase a new one at my destination. It can also serve a dual-function as a beach bag.

Or you can pack a day backpack to serve the same purpose. My favorite is Arkadia’s Sea to Sky waterproof daypack that fits in your pocket. It’s lightweight (only 5.5 oz) and compact (folds into a small pouch that can literally fit in your pocket), yet holds a lot (24L).


Make a practical purchase made locally

Asheville Homecrafts offers locally made hats, quilts, baskets and more in Asheville, N.C.

I’m also a fan of purchasing practical and local items as a reminder of my vacation. Just last week, my friend and I visited Asheville, N.C. On a rainy day, we checked out the historic Grove Arcade and I fell in love with the locally produced hats and story behind Asheville Homecrafts.

Nearly 17 years ago, two women opened up the smallest space to try selling not only their homemade quilts, hand-woven baskets and hand-knitted hats, but also those made by two dozen local women. All the wool was locally produced from the owner’s prize-winning sheep. They sold out in two weeks.

They’ve since expanded, but their business model remains the same – putting money back into the pockets of local women. I can’t wait to visit again and purchase another hat (or two).

Pack a reusable water bottle

I’m guilty of forgetting to pack a reusable water bottle or usually have a difficult time finding room to pack one. No more excuses. I just purchased a que collapsible water bottle – BPA-free and plastic-free. With each purchase, 10% is donated to The Rainforest Trust to acquire and protect an acre of land in the Peruvian Amazon forest.

Plastic straw alternatives

Find an alternative to single-use plastic straws. Or do without. But if you’re not quite ready to go strawless, try some alternatives. However, be careful of greenwashing. I recently ordered paper straws thinking I was doing the responsible thing. Not so much when they arrived in a large plastic bag and the paper straws were individually wrapped in plastic. And they are still single-use. I’ve tried the stainless steel straws, and then the reusable Softy Straws are also a good alternative.

Compare modes of transportation and carbon-offset programs

Of course, it’s usually more environmentally friendly to use mass transportation, and driving is better than flying when it comes to the carbon footprint. However, if flying is your only option, take a direct flight whenever possible as it uses more fuel to land and depart several times.

Also check if your carrier offers a carbon-offset program. It’s where they fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in other areas. I live in the Twin Cities where Delta is our main airline carrier. They were the first airline to offer such a program, where you can help offset your carbon footprint by donating to The Nature Conservancy. On Earth Day 2019, Delta offset the most carbon emissions in a single day for more than 300,000 customers.


Dine at farm-to-table restaurants / craft breweries

I’m always on a quest for the best lobster mac and cheese, like this tasty dish from Founding Farmers in Washington, DC – a farm-to-table restaurant.

One of my favorite and easiest ways to promote sustainability is to dine at farm-to-table restaurants and/or craft breweries. You can easily find highly rated establishments on

Skip housekeeping service at hotels

Hotel bathroom

To help save on water and labor, consider skipping housekeeping services at your hotel. Some hotels even offer a discount or a dining/beverage coupon for declining to have your room cleaned. I use my towel more than once at home, so I make a habit of at least hanging my towel up to reuse again when staying at a hotel. And I can certainly make my own bed without needing to change the linens during my stay.

Stay at an eco-friendly hotel

When choosing a hotel, consider their sustainability practices, which you can find on their website. And for third-party verification, search for environmentally friendly hotels on It’s the world’s leading scientific benchmarking certification and advisory group for travel and tourism.

As a member, you now get better savings when you book direct.

A few EarthCheck-certified hotels include InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Sandals/Beaches, Xcaret, Melia, Hard Rock Cafe, and more.

These are just a few examples of how we can reduce our carbon footprint and become a more responsible traveler. Please share other recommendations in the comments below. Destination Inspiration: Not sure where to go? You've come to the right place!

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller


  1. I try my best to leave a smaller carbon footprint, at home and when traveling so I love this article. Oh, and I need to check out Asheville Homecrafts!

    1. Let me know when you visit Asheville Homecrafts. I was so inspired about their humble beginnings and how they continue to support women in the community. They were a delight to talk with (and their hats are beautiful and so well-made).

    1. Most come with a pipe cleaner brush (a smaller version of a baby bottle brush) or a special squeezie…depending on the material, most manufacturers recommend hot water with dish soap, the dishwasher or boiling them to really sanitize them.

  2. What great ideas!! We always skip the housekeeping service and use the reusable bottles, but I never really thought about the other tips!! Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome! I also tip the housekeeping staff a little more when staying multiple days since they have to clean more all at once.

  3. Great tips! The most challenging one is packing lite for me. All the others I’m doing. Buying and eating local is my fave to do anyways.

  4. Great tips! We love farm-to-table anyways cause of the freshness but it’s good to know it’s good for the environment too. I am not good at packing light. I always want more choices. Still working on that. We did take just carryon for 7 days in Spain. Trying!

    1. Thanks! I’m heading to Spain next week with the goal of packing only a carryon…I’m nervous…hoping I can do it also.

  5. This is a great list! I am SO guilty of packing my whole house everywhere I go. But gone are the days of buying useless souvenirs. Now we spend a little more if needed to get one nice meaningful/useful thing or nothing at all.

    1. Thanks! I’m not a light packer and was quite pleased with myself as I just got done packing a carry-on for a week…until I weighed it. Yep, may be carry-on dimensions, but gonna have to check it. 😂

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