Road Scholar’s Top 5 Tips for Sustainable Travel

Sustainable travel is more important than ever, but incorporating sustainability into your travel plans isn’t always as simple as you might like. Following eco-friendly practices and taking care of our global classroom is a priority at Road Scholar, and if you would like to make your next travels more sustainable, we have five tips for you!

An orange reusable metal waterbottle
  1. Use reusable travel supplies

Investing in items like reusable water bottles, sturdy luggage, cloth tote bags and travel-friendly straws and silverware is a great way to cut down on single-use plastic, while also ensuring that you always have the supplies you need available. In some locations, drinking water or plastic shopping bags aren’t always offered, so you can cut down on stress by bringing your own. This also means that fewer items are going in the trash — it’s a win-win for you and the planet!

Did you know: Road Scholar has taken steps to reduce waste on its programs. One example is our learning adventures in Denali National Park, where participants learn about the Zero Landfill Initiative and help reduce the amount of the park’s waste. Learn more about this initiative here.

Hikers walking in a single file line on a mountain path
  1. Take care of your classroom

On learning adventures to National Parks and other outdoor environments, it’s especially important to preserve natural beauty. This can be done by packing out your garbage, staying on the trails and even leaving an area better than you found it by picking up stray pieces of trash. Not only will you be contributing to the beauty of the mountains, rivers and beaches that you’re learning about, but you’ll also be preserving the habitats of the animals and plants that will be there long after you depart for home.

Did you know: In many wilderness areas, proper disposal of trash is especially important due to the habits of local wildlife. For example, if food scraps are left outside of specific trash receptacles in regions that are home to bears, bears can learn to forage for food from humans, which is dangerous for both humans and the bears.

A sweeping view of the Italian countryside from a village
  1. Seek out sustainable travel options and destinations

You can exercise a great deal of influence over sustainability practices through the travel options you select. For instance, traveling to less-crowded destinations can result in less impact on the environment and on local communities. One example of this is the "I Borghi piu belli d`Italia", or the Most Beautiful Borghi of Italy. This association highlights smaller Italian villages with historic buildings, environmental quality and integrity of the urban landscape. These villages offer a great alternative to the often bustling tourist destinations across Italy.

Did you know: Road Scholar is just one of many organizations placing a strong emphasis on sustainable travel practices as a proud member of Sustainable Travel International. This non-profit organization works to create a more sustainable future, one with clean beaches, protected parks, economic justice, cultural preservation and the engagement of millions of travelers who want to make the world a better place through their choices of where and how they travel. Learn more about the steps we’re taking here.

  1. Try vegetarian or vegan food

Mass meat production can result in high carbon emissions, and eating plant-based meals even a few times a week can be a good way to cut back on some of those emissions. It can also give you a great excuse to try something new while exploring the world! Experiment with a new vegetarian or vegan dish the next time you travel, and if you enjoy it, consider bringing the recipe back home with you.

Did you know: We offer a list of books on with more information about sustainable practices, some of which you can undertake at home. In addition to supporting learning about sustainability, your purchase can benefit Road Scholar’s efforts to support lifelong learning.  

Hikers pointing at plants off the trail on a hike
  1. Spread the word

Letting others know about sustainable travel practices is an easy way to make a difference. Whether it’s through conversations on the road, comments on social media or through discussions with friends, mentioning the eco-friendly steps that you’re taking can be a great way to influence change in other people. This is also true for great experiences with travel companies — leaving a review if you had a positive experience can drive other sustainably-minded travelers to those organizations as well.

Did you know: Road Scholar offers learning adventures that specifically feature one or more elements related to the environment, wildlife, preservation and cultural heritage. Discover these programs here.