Tag - tips

Practical Tips for Sustainable Travel

Homestay experience in Malaysia with tourists eating local Malaysian cuisine with their local homestay hosts. Homestay accommodation is one of many simple tips for sustainable travel.

Have you ever wondered what you can do to travel like a sustainability champion?

Some people mistakingly think that the very act of traveling is incompatible with sustainability because of the carbon footprint from transportation. But sustainability is not some kind of polarized either / or action. There are a great many things you can do (and not do) in order to make your travel more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. Most of them are rather simple, even common sense.

Here is an overview of things you can easily incorporate in your travels. By following these tips you will both limit the negative impacts of traveling and award yourself a more meaningful travel experience.

Practical Tips for Sustainable Travel

Photo of Routeburn Flats, on the Routeburn Track in New Zealand.
Image credits: unuk

These simple sustainability tips apply to all kinds of travels whether it be a city break, a 6-months backpacking trip, or a beach holiday.

Common sense should not be left at home

In various forms, travel can be a relief from all the worries and responsibilities at home. Sometimes, tourists take their traveling freedom a bit too far though. Just like at home, there are rules and cultural norms to respect, and there are natural environments to consider. Why would that be any different a thousand miles from home?

It is not uncommon for hotel guests to leave the air-condition on for hours while they are exploring the area. In this way they don’t have to endure the 2 minutes of slightly too warm or too cold a room. Would you do that at home? Hopefully not.

Would you point your camera in a strangers face and snap away without seeking acceptance first? This is as intrusive in other countries as our own. Instead ask politely, strike up a conversation, and you will find that most people will gladly award you with their picture. These are common sense behaviours, but still some travelers seem to leave their brain at home when they travel.

Eat, stay, and buy local

Why not eat locally? You treat yourself to new tastes, new ways of eating, and important cultural insights when you eat locally. Why not stay at a family-run hotel instead of an international chain hotel? Why not buy locally made art, food, and fashion instead of visiting the very same stores you can find in a hundred other countries?

You will minimize tourism leakage by supporting the local community directly. You will interact with your local host or seller, and you will do what traveling should first and foremost be about: Excitement, novelty, surprise, learning new ways, and exploring your own cultural background in comparison.

You might add that travel is mostly about relaxation, pampering, and re-juvenation in today’s world. Even so, it’s simple to inject some sustainability in there. Just follow these simple tips for sustainable travel as presented in the infographic.

Three central resources on sustainable tourism

For more tips on sustainable travel, we suggest you to explore the websites of The International Ecotourism Society (Ties), Sustainable Travel International (STI), and Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA’s) website on tourism sustainability and social responsibility, Here you will find a lot of background information on sustainable tourism along with guides, case studies, and research.

Photo credits (cover photo): Tourism Malaysia

How to Find the Ideal Beach Hotel?

Simple hotel accommodation in wooden bungalow

So you decided the destination for your beach holiday, and now you want to move on with selecting a nice beach hotel that fits your preferences. There are a number of ways that can help you select your hotel, and combining them will most likely give you the best chances of a successful result.

 Personal experiences

The easiest way to know whether a hotel will meet your needs, is obviously if you have first hand experience of the hotel yourself. Overall, you will have a pretty good idea of what to expect, you know the location, the surroundings, the room sizes, the facilities, and you might even know some of the staff and repeat customers from your last visit.


  • Some features like hotel decor, management, and maintenance change over time
  • Your memory may deceive you, and you could have been blindly in love last time around
  • Surroundings change over time – favorite hang-outs disappear, prices explode, atmospheres change, visitor profiles develop etc.
  • Your previous hotel is not what you want now – now you can remove 1 hotel from the 100s of choices
 Reccommendations from family and friends

It is great to get advice from friends and family who know the destination you are heading for, and which hotel you should stay at. Their experiences will help you in many ways, other than choosing the hotel. They will teach you the “do’s and dont’s” of a destination, which activities to try, where to get a good meal, and which beach to chill at.


  •  Your Uncle Carlos’ idea of what a good hotel is might not be the same as yours, and you probably don’t share the same passions
  • Your Uncle Carlos might also not know you and your preferences as well, as he thinks he does
  • Things changed since Uncle Carlos’ visit
  • Personal encounters, incidents, and a bunch of more or less random events affect the overall perception – it only takes one rude comment by a stressed waiter or a nice gesture from a receptionist to determine whether a hotel will be recommended or not
 Customer reviews

Reviews on any bought service or item can now be found online. Who better to advise you than fellow tourists who have tried and tested the product? This is great way to find up to date, user-generated information about a hotel and get a quick overview of its perceived value. All major online booking sites like Agoda, Hotels, Booking, Expedia etc. feature customer reviews of offered hotels. Tripadvisor is perhaps the best known and most trusted hotel review site, and the importance of good customer reviews for hoteliers cannot be underestimated.


  •  Many customers only leave reviews of services or products where they have had an experience out of the ordinary. This means that many reviews are either very good or very bad, and thus not necessarily representative of the common experience. Actually, reading through the reviews will often leave you perplexed if the reviews are too polarized. Our suggestion is to look at the overall scores, and take the single reviews with a grain of sand.
  • There has always been trust issues related to reviews. Are the reviewers really customers or could they be affiliated with the hotel in some way? Have the reviewers been bribed somehow? Could malicious competitors skew the review scores by posting bad reviews? The less reviews, the higher the risk of the overall scores being skewed.
  • Reviewers might have entirely different standards, understandings of services, and expectations compared to your own. What one reviewers sees as extraordinary service, another reviewer interprets as overly intruding staff.
 Expert recommendations

A good travel agency or advisor will be able to understand your needs and point you in the right direction. They will most likely have feedback from previous clients going to the destination in question, and can seek extra information directly from the accommodation suppliers. If the travel expert is specialized in the region you wish to visit, they can likewise give you tips beyond the choice of accommodation.


  • If you are an experienced traveler, chances are you know more about the destination than your travel agent.
  • Would travel agents try to satisfy their accommodation suppliers or reach sales targets by sending you to a specific hotel rather than help you find the ideal hotel for you?
  • Travel agencies tend to feature and book the same hotels at a given destination, so whether this is your preference or not, you might end up in a “national bubble” of fellow country-men and women.
We’re here, now what? – not selecting beforehand

Now this option suits some and definitely doesn’s suit others. You can simply choose to go to your selected destination, and see what you can find once you are there. This saves you the time of looking for a hotel beforehand, and you can actually check out the hotel yourself on-site before you commit to staying anywhere. There is a good chance you will be able to find small quirky hotels that are not available for online bookings. We recommend that you know which area you want to stay in, perhaps aided by a guidebook. Go to that area, leave your bags at a restaurant and walk around to find your hotel. Simple – if you are flexible.


  • Be careful if it’s high season – everything could be fully booked, and you might end up either having to spend the night at an overpriced room or in whatever is left from the most basic dorm room to the luxury suite. Plan B, buy a tent. Plan C, find a friendly local resident. Plan D, find a friendly bench. Plan E, don’t sleep – jetlag will mess with your sleep anyway.
  • If this is your once in a lifetime overseas 2-week travel holiday with your spouse and kids or (even worse) your honeymoon trip, you might not want to leave too many things to chance for the sake of keeping your marital status.
  • If you are the kind of tourist that travels to relax and rejuvenate, then save yourself a dose of anxiousness by having your trip well-organized.