Sustainable travel doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice important amenities like a shower or comfortable bed. Sustainable travel is all about making simple choices to lessen your impact on the places you like to visit. Do your part and consider these three areas before planning your next domestic or international trip.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Eco-friendly transportation may not always be in your control. If you want to see the world, it’s hard to get to Europe or Asia from the United States on anything but an airplane. Once you arrive, use public transportation or explore destinations by foot or bicycle. If you need to use a car, try to rent a biodiesel, hybrid-electric or fuel-efficient model.

Book eco-conscious accommodations. These properties are committed to using sustainable practices like energy-efficient heating, cooling and lighting. Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, N.C., was the first hotel in America to receive the LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. In addition to a vegetated restaurant rooftop and 100 solar panels to heat 60 percent of the water for both the hotel and restaurant, it practices more than 70 sustainable initiatives.

When booking your next accommodation, see if the hotel is certified or enrolled in a sustainable tourism program, keeps waste to a minimum with bulk soap dispensers and amenities made from recyclable materials or employs eco-smart decisions in important areas like housekeeping. These are usually good indicators of a hotel’s sustainability promise. 

And, while it may sound simple, bring a reusable water bottle. If you’re traveling somewhere where the tap water is safe to drink, it will eliminate plastic and save you some money.

Fast Park has made improvements to reduce our carbon footprint and support our energy-conscious guests. Every new facility since 2013 features dedicated electric vehicle charging stations, with infrastructure to add more as demand grows. Higher-fuel-efficiency shuttles and covered parking also have reduced carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions. Learn more here.

Protect natural surroundings

Some of the world’s most beautiful attractions and destinations are threatened by tourism. Mount Everest, for example, has been called the world’s highest garbage dump because of the debris – including camping supplies and human waste -- left behind by the thousands of tourists that visit annually. Be mindful when visiting sensitive landscapes or historical sites. Don’t touch artifacts and visit during off-peak hours to offset any strain.

Think of your four-legged friends when planning a trip, too. Never buy wildlife products like feathers, tusks or teeth. Do your research to know which tours and attractions cause suffering to animals or allow travelers to interact with animals in abusive ways. And, be aware of what you’re eating. Shark fin soup may be a delicacy in China, but fishing practices are often considered unethical.

Support local business

Eco-tourism and sustainable travel not only mean preserving the environment but also the cultures and communities you may encounter throughout your travels. Buying local products is an easy way to do this. Kitschy, cookie-cutter souvenirs are often imported and won’t do much to preserve your memories.

Sustainable travel can also mean ensuring tour companies hire local workers. Shopping in local markets and purchasing handmade art also provides a direct pipeline from your wallet to the community.

Conscious decisions to buy and shop local while travelling are small acts which go a long way toward maintaining and invigorating many communities throughout the globe. Take your sustainable travel practices a step further by booking a voluntourism trip designed to address local issues in communities around the world.