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Travel Tips

6 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Travel More Sustainably

Curious about eco-tourism? Read this

The Vacationeer
Georgeous seaside vista with two bicyles parked off to the side.

When you hear the term "sustainable travel," you might think of green practices that reduce a traveler's carbon footprint and other effects on the global and local environment. And this is undoubtedly a big part of it. 

But it's not the whole picture.         

It's about more than eco-tourism. Along with environmental concerns, sustainable tourism also means being mindful about how you affect the people, community and culture – both socially and economically – in a place you visit.         

It's about preservation, but it's also about leaving your destination better off for having hosted you.

In other words, it's about making tourism sustainable in the long run – for all parties involved.

stunning aerial shot of two Humpback whales swimming in clear blue waters, Maui, Hawaii.    

Prioritizing Sustainable Tourism

It's easy to love travel for the lasting memories it creates and the many ways it has enduring, enriching effects on our lives. But it's a two-way street, and today, travelers are increasingly aware that they can positively impact the people and places they visit.         

If you've thought you should practice more sustainable tourism recently, you're not alone. A 2021 survey by Virtuoso found 70% of travelers expressed that traveling sustainably improves their vacation experiences. Survey participants also ranked which of the three pillars of sustainable travel – environmental, economic and social – they felt most strongly about; 72% said "all of the above."

Top Tips for Traveling More Sustainably

There are so many opportunities to be a more mindful, responsible traveler, and everyone can find ways to contribute to the sustainable travel movement.

If all the advice out there seems a bit overwhelming, remember, it's more beneficial to do something than to do nothing. Even if you pick up just one or two new sustainable travel habits, it helps. And you can always gradually add more as you continue to explore the world.

Choose more eco-friendly transportation. 

Picturesque panorma of a canal boat in the french countryside, France.  

We all know air travel has a large carbon footprint, but it's often the only practical way to get to a destination. If you do have an alternative – especially a train – consider it. When you fly, try to take nonstop flights, as takeoffs and landings create a significant amount of a flight's emissions.

Walking or biking around your destination is a great way to get better acquainted with it, and it's a green, healthy option, too. Ride public transportation when possible. If you're renting a car, go with an electric or hybrid if one's available, or opt for the smallest vehicle you need. Doesn't a wind-powered sailboat sound more relaxing than an engine-powered boat?

Pack reusable items to reduce waste.  

Take a reusable water bottle with you. If you like to take out beverages like coffee or tea when you travel, bring along a tumbler; most coffee shops are happy to serve your drink in it rather than a to-go cup. If you need a straw, bring your reusable one.

You can find other ways to cut down on single-use plastic consumption on your journeys, such as packing a few pieces of reusable cutlery. Planning to do some shopping on vacation? A cloth tote bag or two take up almost no space in your suitcase, and you can forgo the environmentally unfriendly plastic bags.

Couple buying goods and being plaful at local fruit stand, Big Island, Hawaii.    

Patronize locally owned and operated businesses.

When you're grabbing coffee, buying new clothes, picking up souvenirs, booking a tour, or spending money on anything else at your destination, favor businesses run by locals.

Shopping locally benefits the people who own and work at these establishments, and the money you spend continues to circulate locally.

It's also a rewarding way to engage meaningfully with local culture.

You're also much more likely to be supporting businesses that get their supplies and goods locally, expanding the circle of benefits. Restaurants that source ingredients from local farms and vendors have a smaller carbon footprint and boost their local economy.

Plus, they tend to serve fresher, tastier, more nutrient-rich food. Purchasing items made by local craftspeople or manufacturers supports jobs and economic well-being in your destination.

Be informed and respectful of local ecosystems and wildlife.

Beautiful mountain panorama with buffalo grazing along side a idyllic stream, American Mountain West.    

One of the fundamentals of responsible tourism is to leave every place you visit as clean (or cleaner) as when you arrived. But this is a much larger matter involving many different considerations in different destinations.

To be genuinely conscientious, do a little research about the ecological issues in your destination before your trip.

If you visit a coastal area with coral reefs, choose a reef-friendly sunscreen that doesn't contain oxybenzone, which is toxic to the algae that live in coral reefs. Also, be careful not to tread on coral if you snorkel or scuba dive.

Seek out responsible, eco-friendly tour companies (especially wildlife tours – avoid any promising up-close encounters or the ability to touch animals). When you get a chance, pay the entry fee to visit natural parks, wildlife sanctuaries and other protected conservation areas.

Couple walking along a trail through a Maui rainforest, Hawaii.    

Take part in sustainable tourism initiatives. 

As the importance of sustainable travel has become clearer, and as interest has grown, many nonprofits and tourism agencies have developed programs to further these efforts.

For example, you may have heard about the Malama Hawaii Program.

It offers opportunities for travelers to give back while they enjoy the beauty, hospitality and culture of the islands. They meet locals and immerse themselves in the natural surroundings while volunteering for beach cleanups, indigenous tree plantings and more. In exchange, they may receive discounts at area hotels or other rewards.

Hilton Grand Vacations is proud to participate in the Malam Hawaii Program. Explore how we're involved, and learn more about how you can be too when you stay with us on your next Maui getaway.

Have a greener mindset at your hotel.

Cut down on energy consumption by skipping the daily maid service and laundering your bedding and towels. If you packed a reusable water bottle, you might not even need to drink the bottled water in your room or the lobby shop. And if you bring your soap, shampoo and conditioner, you don't need to go through all those tiny plastic bottles. 

You may be more aware of your energy and water use at home, where you pay the utility bills. But you can engage in more sustainable tourism at your hotel with simple, familiar conservation acts like using the heating or air conditioning less, turning off lights, taking short showers and not running the water while you brush your teeth. 

Hilton Grand Vacations Is Your Partner for Sustainable Travel

Peaceful stream with HGV Club Partner Perks Partner El Monte RV parked in the distance under verdent canopy, North Carolina.   

From our flexible travel options affording Owners opportunities to use ClubPoints for canal boat and RV rentals to doing our part, you can feel good about vacation ownership with Hilton Grand Vacations.  

In addition to our participation in the Malama Hawaii Program, we're striving to do more to reduce waste and our carbon footprint, adopt more environmentally friendly practices, support people in need on an international scale, and promote human rights and diversity worldwide.

We're proud to partner with Clean the World. This nonprofit works with the hospitality industry to recycle soap, divert waste, and get soap to people who need it for basic hygiene and disease prevention.

We're also working to phase out single-use plastics – including plastic straws – at our properties, which we're updating with eco-friendly products like high-efficiency HVAC systems, energy-efficient appliances and LED lighting. Finally, we participate in the Hilton LightStay™ program as well.   

Discover more by exploring our Corporate Social Responsibility page.







The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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