Let’s chat about sustainable travel. This year, I made myself a promise to travel in a more ecologically responsible way. But that’s not so easy when you’re a travel blogger and your travel bucket list is getting longer by the day. I also work for an airline, so we can fly around the world for the cheapest prices – which really doesn’t help when it comes to avoiding plane travel.
The Australian bushfires, plastic polluting our oceans, the coronavirus spreading throughout the world, and winters that have long ceased to be true winters… it breaks my heart and I can’t help but feel partly responsible. I’ve taken countless planes to all corners of the world. I currently feel so guilty about this.
While searching for a solution, I came across the concept of ecologically responsible travel. I was immediately interested but I had also a couple of questions – how does travelling sustainably work, and can you still be ecologically responsible while embarking on adventures?
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Start with your everyday life
First and foremost, we need to be concerned with the environment every day – not just when we’re travelling.
In my day-to-day life, I make multiple products myself, like deodorant, lip balm and detergent. I buy ecological bars of soap to wash my hands and shower, and I take my reusable water bottle and coffee mug with me everywhere. Gifts are wrapped with old newspaper at our house, and my reusable shopping bags always accompany me when going to the store. We buy water in glass bottles, and try to avoid plastic packaging as much as possible when grocery shopping.
Now let’s talk about travel
I must admit I didn’t even know where to start when it comes to travelling sustainably. I’ve scheduled to visit the most exotic destinations this year. You know, the ones where you sit on a plane for 12 hours to get there (and most likely have to make a stop on the way over, so you actually end up taking two planes before arriving in paradise). Last year I took about thirty flights, a sum that left me speechless when I calculated it. It’s time to change.
We shouldn’t necessarily travel less, but we definitely do need to travel differently. Sustainable travel and seeing the world in an ecologically responsible way is so important for all of us.
Sustainable travel tips
Here are some handy tips for travelling sustainably that I always try to apply during our trips:
- Get a reusable water bottle: Wherever we travel in the world, our reusable water bottles are standard items in our hand luggage. Of course, there are certain places where it isn’t wise to drink straight from the tap. If you find yourself in that position, don’t worry. We buy a large 5 litre water bottle, so that we only have to buy plastic once instead of 10 small bottles of water.
- Leave nothing behind: One of the main rules of sustainable travel is that wherever you go, you should leave nothing behind but your own footsteps. Take your own waste bag and, even better, pick up litter that others have left behind. I’m not saying that you should be dragging full trash bags around on a hike, but picking up any little bits of rubbish you find makes a huge difference.
- Research your activities: Planning to go on safari in Africa or visit an elephant sanctuary in Thailand? Do the necessary research beforehand. You only want to visit reputable places where the animals are treated well. And by treated well, I mean ethical sanctuaries where you can not touch the animals, bathe with them or feed them. My travel blogger friend Charlotte from Charlies wanderings wrote a more extensive article on this topic, read it here.
- Think sustainably – even in hotels: When you’re staying in the comfort of a hotel, it can be hard to remember that you still need to be ecologically responsible. Are you staying in a hotel for a long period of time? Make sure you always hang your towels back neatly, so that they are not replaced and washed every day.
- Eat locally produced food: Opt to support local farmers and businesses rather than big food chains. In Sri Lanka, we stayed in a resort with its own organic farm, where they use the farm-to-table concept. Everything we got on our plate came from the hotel’s garden – and I can assure you it was delicious!
- Think about your transport: It goes without saying, but wherever possible opt to travel by train or bus rather than taxi, car or plane.
- Support local businesses: Sleep in little boutique hotels owned by small, local families rather than large hotel chains.
- Greenseat: If you do not travel on foot or by bicycle, your means of transport will emit CO2. You can compensate for this on the GreenSeat website. This organization provides households in developing countries with access to sustainable energy. The amount of CO2 that your travel emits will be equalled through climate projects elsewhere in the world. With this project, you improve the living conditions for local families.
Sustainable travel skincare
People who have been following me for a while know by now that I’m very sensitive about good natural skincare products. I only use non-toxic and cruelty-free skincare products, and I have seen my skin transform over the past three years because of this.
I don’t use these products just for myself. I believe it’s very important to minimize our impact on the oceans, coral reefs and the animals that live within them by using eco-friendly sunscreen and not polluting our water with chemical products.
Needless to say, when I’m travelling I always take all my sustainable skincare products with me. This sometimes leads to a situation where I travel for weeks with as many beauty products as clothes! Because they’re important to me, I thought I’d give you an insight into all the natural skincare products in my travel bag.
My must-have travel skincare
Travel skincare – Grown Alchemist
This Australian brand has been a standard in my bathroom for over two years now and it is used daily by both my husband and me – especially the face gel cleanser and the body cream. They also have a fantastic travel kit with super handy small packages which I always drag along when travelling.
Their travel kit includes:
- Gentle gel facial cleanser
- Body cleanser
- Body cream
- Hand cream
- Polishing facial exfoliant
- Hydra-repair day cream
Why do I like Grown Alchemist so much? Because by using their products consistently, I really have seen my skin change. Now, my skin feels really nourished and I no longer suffer from dry lower legs. The products also smell super nice and I just love their cool packaging.
Nail polish – Kure Bazaar
Anyone else love painting their nails before they go travelling? This French brand has the most beautiful non-toxic nail polish. Their philosophy: healthier nails in color, day after day.
Kure Bazaar also have an 100% natural dissolvent that doesn’t contain acetone or odor. In addition, they sell natural lipsticks and lip balms and they have the best smelling candles.
As well as producing all-natural nail polish, Kure Bazaar actually manage to follow the latest fashion trends and create the most beautiful colors on the market – and I’m finally rid of that terrible dissolvent smell when removing my nail polish.
Hair products – Captain Blankenship
Captain Blankenship is a small company run by women in the Hudson River Valley that makes luxurious and honest products. Their products are created with organic and domestically grown ingredients whenever possible, and they avoid synthetic preservatives, parabens, sulfates or artificial fragrance.
Captain Blankenship create sustainable natural skincare products, and use recyclable and reusable glass packaging to ensure a positive environmental impact. They only test their products on themselves and their friends – never on animals. They believe in transparency and honesty in every aspect of their line.
My personal favourite is the Captain Blankenship Dry Shampoo Powder, which I use weekly. I also use their Captain Blankenship Mermaid Sea Salt Hair Spray as a moisturizing hair spray to add waves and life to my hair. It gives it that ‘just left the beach’ look and smell.
Now that we’re on the subject of hair products, Mádara Cosmetics Grow Volume Shampoo & Conditioner has literally revived my hair! I have super thin and lifeless hair that always gets greasy very quickly. Mádara Cosmetics provides you with the best hair treatments – by using these products, my hair is less oily and less dull. I also use their foundation and time miracle wrinkle smoothing eye cream.
Madara Cosmetics are honest and affordable all natural skin care products that take into account the environmental footprint – and they regularly hold a 30% discount on their entire range.
Perfume – Abel
When it comes to sustainable beauty products, I almost gave up the search for an all-natural perfume that also smells wonderful – until I discovered the Dutch brand Abel. Their products are created with 100% natural ingredients, and they come in a super nice bottle. My personal favorite scent is Nurture.
Even better, they work together with ‘1% for the world’ – which means that a percentage of all their profits go to non-profit organizations around the world.
Toothpaste – Lebon
Let’s chat about sustainable natural toothpastes. Lebon is a Belgian brand that has been marketing luxury oral hygiene products since 2015, and has been one of my bathroom essentials for a long time. Lebon creates cruelty-free vegan products that transform your daily bathroom rituals into a magical moment. They have a collection of nine different types of eco-friendly and organic oral care toothpaste – discover the collective here.
Reusable cotton pads – Biotylab
One of the must-have items in my travel bag are reusable cotton pads. The pads are super convenient to take anywhere and they’re very maintenance-friendly. I buy mine at the Belgian store Biotylab – they’re made in-house by the owner and consist of 100% organic cotton. The wipes are super soft, and can be washed in the washing machine and tumble-dried. You can remove your make-up multiple times with just one wipe, and they only cost €14 for 3 pads. It’s definitely a small investment worth making!
Deodorant – type:A
I make my deodorant myself. It’s super easy to make – if you want to have a go, I have an Instagram video on how to do it yourself.
During my travels I always take type:A Deodorant – Crisp Citron with me, because it is super easy to take everywhere. My cupboard also always has a bottle of fi-ne deodorant, too. Their products are organic and 100% vegan, and the deodorants are aluminum and salts-free. This means no synthetic preservatives or colors, fillers or fragrances.
Soaps – Lush
Oh Lush, I would literally buy all their natural soaps. I love their stores and they always have the friendliest and most helpful shop assistants available.
My absolute favorite natural soap (which I shower with every day!) is Ro’s Argan soap. It’s a moisturizing soap with argan oil, luxurious rose oil and Egyptian geranium. Heavenly!
Skincare – Suzanne Kaufmann
One of my absolute favorite natural beauty brands of all time! The night before I take a flight, I use their Susanne Kaufmann Moisturizing Mask, and I let it soak in all night. It is a rich, deeply moisturizing and nourishing mask for all skin types. When bathing, I use their Mallow Blossom Bubble bath and their Susanne Kaufmann Detox Oil – 3.4 oz on my body after a bath or shower for nourishing and relaxation effects. They also have super nice gift boxes with mini-products of their bestselling body products.