Traveling environmentally responsible does not have to mean that it is more expensive. In fact, using products that are good for the environment are long term investments. Choosing products like glass containers, bamboo products, metal straws, etc. they might cost more than other materials like silicon/plastic but last much longer and can easily be recycled. Traveling sustainably does require a bit more planning because not all companies have the environment in mind. Unfortunately, it is up to us, as consumers, to be hyper-conscious and take responsibility. This goes far beyond travel, it goes into our food, toiletries, containers, appliances, transportation choices, etc. at home and abroad. The first consideration when planning a trip is to think about places that could use your support. There are several countries that are safe to visit, but suffer economically due to weather phenomenons or just due to their proximate location to more popular destinations. For example Puerto Rico suffers from hurricanes that destroy the island but is safe and a United States commonwealth. You wouldn’t even need your US passport for this trip! Panama's location next to Costa Rica creates a “popularity contest” like several other neighboring countries. While both are lovely, some are forced to choose one or the other. Searching for these ‘hidden’ gems will give you an experience that is truly unique and memorable. This is what makes travel so much fun! Remember when choosing a location you are supporting the destination with your money so choose wisely. Once you’ve chosen your destination, it is time to look for accommodation and things to do. Eco-friendly verified accommodations used to be hard to find, but now there is a great website - www.bookdifferent.com - that calculates your carbon footprint per night based on your selection and includes eco-friendly ratings. There are also Airbnbs which can be controversial but helps locals with paying them directly instead of paying for a chain hotel. Keep in mind choosing an accommodation puts money back into the local economy. After finding the right place to stay, you have to find things to do to learn more about the area! If you are planning to tour, consider using a sustainable travel agent. There is another great site - www.lokaltravel.com - which organizes activities that “embraces local cultures and immerses you in breathtaking natural habitats with the help of a local sustainable travel expert.” Keep in mind local while traveling. There are reusable and environmentally friendly items that can help at home and abroad. 1) Small containers for food helps reduce your plastic consumption, as well as reusable/biodegradable cutlery. 2) The new ‘trend’ of reusable straws is something we can get on board with even if it is a bit performative. It will help because as we know plastic straws harm wildlife and pollute the oceans. This is something that restaurants and the travel industry is sorely lacking. 3) Toiletries and toothbrushes are an important place where travelers tend to forget how harmful plastic is to the environment. The amount of mini toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes filling landfills is in the billions per year. Choose a bamboo or biodegradable toothbrush, and bring soaps, shampoos and conditioners in refillable bottles. 4) Bring a cloth tote bag. This is great for groceries and things you pick up along the way. It will reduce your plastic use as there are only a few countries that have banned single-use plastic bags. 5) Using cloth instead of paper napkins will reduce your paper usage. Similar to how books are being replaced by tablets because the cutting down of trees isn’t good - it also applies to paper goods. Cloth towels are easy to clean and come with thousands of designs. 6) Sunscreen is not just a seasonal product and many of them contain oxybenzone, which is toxic to algae that live within corals. Bring along a reef-safe option instead. 7) Soap bottles are often plastic but consider bringing along an all-use biodegradable soap which can be used to wash your body, hair, dishes and clothing. If you’re uncomfortable with that idea consider using zero-waste products. Now, the planning is done and you can take your trip! On the ground your efforts can continue by changing small things in your routine. Consider bike or walking tours instead of driving unless absolutely necessary. Even while renting cars you can choose electric instead of gas or carsharing. These are small things that add up at the end of your trip and are decisions that don’t have to stop after your vacation. Continuing to work for an eco-friendly environment at home will change the way you see the world. While it may be natural for some, it takes time for others and that’s okay!