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10 Parent-Approved Tips for Traveling Sustainably With Kids

Traveling sustainably with kids doesn't mean giving up the fun of exploring new places. These tips simply help you minimize your footprint as you go about your adventures.

travel sustainably with kids
Written by
Riley Baker
Picture this: you're packing up the family for an
exciting vacation
. There's a buzz of anticipation in the air as you stuff suitcases with clothes and essentials. But as you look around, a thought crosses your mind: How can we make this trip more eco-friendly?
Traveling sustainably
doesn't mean you have to give up the fun or compromise the excitement of exploring new places. It's about making conscious decisions that minimize your footprint along the way. And yes, it's entirely possible to prioritize the planet with children in tow. In fact, it's the perfect opportunity to teach them how to respect and protect the environment, not only making them conscious travelers but, more importantly, thoughtful global citizens.
So, are you ready to embark on a green adventure with your little ones? Let's dive into tips that will help you travel more sustainably with kids. Together, we can make our planet a better place, one vacation at a time.

10 Ways to Travel More Sustainably With Kids

travel sustainably with kids

1. Pack Like a Minimalist

like a minimalist
isn't always easy when you have kids—you're likely used to packing triple what you need to, just in case. But opting to pack only the essentials results in lighter luggage, which in turn can lead to reduced fuel consumption during your travels by planes, trains, or cars. This helps
reduce your carbon footprint
. Plus, with less baggage, you'll have more room for memories.

2. Practice 'Leave No Trace' Principles

Wherever you and your little explorers may find yourselves—whether you're on a
family hike
or eating sandwiches at a park—remember to practice "Leave No Trace" principles. This means packing out what you pack in, ensuring that you leave the places you visit as pristine as you found them. Teaching your kiddos the importance of not leaving anything behind not only preserves the environment but also instills a deep sense of respect for nature from a young age.

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3. Prioritize Reusables

Replacing single-use items with reusable alternatives can greatly reduce waste during your trips. Swap disposable water bottles for sturdy
reusable ones
, opt for reusable silverware instead of plastic, and consider bringing refillable snack containers instead of relying on anything individually-wrapped. By making these small swaps, you'll lessen your family's travel footprint.

4. Opt for Eco-Friendly Lodging

Whenever possible, choose accommodations that are committed to eco-friendly practices. Look for hotels or rentals that prioritize waste reduction, energy conservation, and water-saving measures. Having trouble finding one? Turn to Google, which
has a feature
that lets you search "eco-certified" hotels in seconds.

5. Pack Mindful Munchies

A great way to cut down on waste during your travels is to pack snacks for the kids ahead of time. That way, you won't need to rely on the over-priced (and plastic-wrapped) options found at gas stations and airports. Doing so won't just benefit the planet, but will also help save you money—aka no more spending $10 on a pack of overpriced peanut butter crackers.

6. Sightsee Sustainably

Add some eco-friendly attractions and experiences to your itinerary. Seek out nature preserves, conservation centers, or guided wildlife tours to show your kids the wonders of the natural world. By involving your kids in activities that highlight the importance of environmental protection, you're planting the seeds for a greener future.

7. Opt for Digital Documentation

Instead of hitting the print button, hit the download button and embrace the ease and convenience of using digital copies of your travel documents, itineraries, and even maps. By doing so, you're saving yourself from the hassle of keeping track of countless pieces of paper—and saving trees in the process.
Here's a helpful tip: There are plenty of apps available that can help you store and organize your digital documents. Some even work offline, perfect for those places where internet access might be a bit tricky.

8. Pack Reusable Shopping Bags

Imagine this: You're wandering through a vibrant local market or a quaint souvenir shop, your eyes feasting on the colorful array of items. Now, wouldn't it be wonderful to have your own reusable shopping bags handy for those unique finds or fresh local produce? By packing some along, you're reducing the reliance on single-use plastic bags, as well as adding a touch of eco-friendly charm to your travel experience.

9. Look for Water Refill Stations

A great way to reduce plastic is to skip the single-use bottles and bring your refillable options along to use at refill stations during your adventures. These days, you'll find them throughout airports and even within local communities. It's a small change, but one that can make a big impact when it comes to waste reduction.

10. Pack Eco-Friendly Toiletries

When you're packing, opt for bar-forms of your go-to toiletries, whether that's shampoo bars,
body bars
, or even
beauty bars
. These items are sustainable alternatives to the mini plastic travel options you'll find in most stores. Plus, they're super easy to travel with, taking up less space in your luggage.