Sustainable Travel Backpacks

Sustainable Travel Backpacks

Best Sustainable travel backpacks every Millenial can feel proud to wear

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

All prices are correct at time of publishing. This curated list does not fully take into account all the ethical considerations that are unique to each individual. Before making a purchase, we encourage you to do your own research paying special attention to the supply chain and your own particular set of ethics.

One of THE most essential items for any traveler is a sturdy, high-quality sustainable travel backpack, and if you’re a responsible traveler then you travel light and don’t check your bags.

In fact, a sustainable travel backpack is arguably more important than having a sturdy rolling suitcase. Your backpack carries your most precious items like your laptop and camera gear (… and snacks of course! What can I say, I love good snacks when I travel)

Your travel backpack needs to be versatile for your various travel activities, reliable and rugged for any adventures you may go on (whether planned or accidental).

If you’re searching for a high-quality sustainable travel backpack then you’ve come to the right place.

Below is a comprehensive list of ethically-made and eco-friendly backpacks for you!

Have I missed your favorite sustainable brand? Let me know in the comments & I’ll research the company to add to this list!

What to look for in a high-quality, sustainable backpack

There are FIVE qualities that you should look for when searching for your perfect travel backpack:

1. Functionality & meets your specific needs:

First & foremost you must know what you’ll be using your backpack for. A backpack is meant to be a functional item to safely carry your items from point A to point B and every other place in between.

Will you be using it for work, travel, hiking, the beach?

Will it need to be water-resistant?

Do the aesthetics matter to you?

Are you in need of multiple compartments? If so, for what items?

Will a zipper close work, or is a roll-top better for your needs?

It’s important that you take the time to consider what you’ll be using your backpack for prior to investing in one. You don’t want to dislike it a year from now and waste the resources it took to create it and your own money if it doesn’t align with your needs.

2. Quality & Durability:

No matter where you plan to take your backpack, there is a good chance that you’ll be slinging it around, shoving it into compartments, and just generally submitting it to some rough wear & tear. So, it’s important to prioritize the quality and durability of the backpack over it’s appearance. Otherwise, you may end up with broken straps, zippers that can’t close or items falling out of your bag

3. Sustainably sourced materials:

Of course, I have to touch on the materials your potential new travel backpack is made out of – it’s the purpose of this entire post! There are so many beautiful sustainably made backpacks that are biodegradable, non-toxic and made with renewable fabrics (such as banana fiber, recycled plastics, and organic cotton).

And each one is less taxing on our environment than a traditional backpack you could find anywhere. More often than not, they’re also even higher quality than you would typically find!

4. Classic Aesthetic:

You want to be sure to purchase a backpack that you feel you’ll love the look of for years to come. Not only will this prevent you from over purchasing, but it will save you money. I’ve personally had bags that I’ve used for almost ten years, and I still like the way they look and continue to use them.

5. Price:

For any budget-minded individual price may be your first consideration. You need to weigh the cost in terms of all of the items listed above- quality, durability, and materials. Purchasing a high-quality, sustainably made backpack should be considered an investment.

While some may seem like a lot in cost, it’s because they are made with the highest quality materials, by a sustainably focused company who also pays fair wages and provides a safe working environment for their employees. 

TOP Eco-Friendly & Sustainably made Backpacks for travelers

Please keep in mind that the companies listed below may not be 100% sustainable or ethical at this point in time. However, they are honest about where they stand and are working towards getting to that 100% mark. My rule of thumb is that if you can find this information on their website and they easily answer your questions regarding sustainability then they are reputable. If a company skirts around your questions or doesn’t provide the information online it’s a red flag, and they have something to hide.

Also! If you read a term or phrase that you don’t understand, scroll to the end for definitions, links & stats about producing sustainable products.

Here are my top recommendations for sustainably made backpacks: (in alphabetical order)

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

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1

Beekeeper Parade

Best For: Day Trips & School

Price Range: $129

Company Sustainable Ethics: BeeKeeper Parade focuses on supporting children in Cambodia, as well as creating each item with up-cycled materials. Their website does not list specifics, it only states “Our full environmental policy will be posted here shortly.”

Backpack Perks:

  • Secret top compartment for your sunglasses
  • Separate laptop compartment

Beekeeper Parade Backpack Pros/Cons:

Cons: They don’t have sustainable specifics on their website, so it;s difficult to judge what or if they are doing so

Pros: Each purchase supports a child in need

2

Cotopaxi

Best For: Backpack Travelers

Price Range: $70-$220

Company Sustainable EthicsCotopaxi is on a mission to alleviate global poverty by donating 1% of their profits and provide grants to nonprofits who align with their mission to lowering global poverty.

They’re also a certified B corporation meaning they meet the highest standards of verified social & environmental performance. Cotopaxi ensures that anyone who is apart of the process of making their items has fair, sustainable working conditions. Their materials are also hand selected to meet their high quality standards

Backpack Perks:

  • Separate zipper for laptop
  • Plenty of useful compartments
  • Zipper close with magnetic button
  • Padded back panel & shoulder straps for comfort
  • Weather resistant finish
  • Fits under most airline seats

Cotopaxi Backpack Pros/Cons:

Cons: not all materials used are entirely eco-friendly

Pros: Stellar standards on all aspects, not just materials, customers can customize items, and some are very colorful

3

Est Wst

Best For: artisan inspired travelers

Price Range: $100-$175

Company Sustainable Ethics: Est Wst states they are a collection of partnerships, meaning they focus on where the materials and items are coming from and that every item they purchase has an impact somewhere in the world.

They utilize traditional artisan processes and source natural fibers for their products. They also use recycled packaging!

Backpack Perks:

  • Waterproof liners made from recycled plastics
  • Organic cotton & vegetable tanned leather
  • Each item is handmade in the USA
  • Laptop pocket

Est Wst Backpack Pros/Cons:

Cons: they use leather

Pros: Est Wst is dedicated to supporting artisan designs and traditions

4

Everlane

Best For: affordability & modern style

Price Range: $35-100

Company Sustainable Ethics: Everlane uses what they call ‘radical transparency’ with their consumers. They focus their efforts to find and work with the best factories around the world, and ensure employees receive fair wages, work in safe environments and have reasonable working hours

Backpack Perks:

  • Exterior laptop pocket

  • Roll through strap to attach to rolling luggage

  • Many backpacks are made with recycled polyester

Everlane Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: not all items are made of 100% sustainable materials, BUT they’re working on it

Pros: classic, minimalist looks that will look good for years & transparent about their costs & retail pricing

5

Fjallraven Hiking Backpacks

Best Forcomfy unisex backpacks

Price Range: $55-$225

Company Sustainable EthicsFjallraven practices sustainability throughout its entire manufacturing process. They use nontoxic, natural and recycled materials, enforce fair production practices, and their code of conduct supports animal welfare, environmental protection and anti-corruption.

Fjallraven also belongs to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Fair Labor Association.

Backpack Perks:

  • Water resistant bags
  • Very durable
  • Recycled nylon & polyester and organic cotton to withstand extreme weather conditions and everyday use.

Fjallraven Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: some reviews on Amazon say the bag is not too durable & there aren’t many compartments

Pros: tons of options for style and color & superior standards on all fronts of sustainability

6

grünBAG

Best For: day pack or work

Price Range: $120-$200

Company Sustainable Ethics: grünBAG is a Denmark company that only uses industrial materials that would otherwise go to waste, such as tarpaulin (material used for truck covers & party tents). Their straps are made of recycled plastic, and interiors made from mesh banners that were used as advertising banners in Denmark. Even their shipping material is recycled cardboard. Some of their bags are vegan, while a few are made with real leather. You can read more about their materials here.

Backpack Perks:

  • Roll over close so can squeeze in more items
  • Waterproof
  • Many bags are made-to-order

grünBAG Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: not many compartments to organize your items

Pros: excellent company moral for sustainability & customizable & made to order

 

7

Haiku Trailblazer Backpack

Best Forairplane carry on backpack

Price Range: $140

Company Sustainable Ethics: Haiku backpacks are made entirely of CyclePET, a durable polyester fabric made from post-consumer beverage bottles.

Backpack Perks:

  • Separate zippered compartment for your laptop makes for ease of access, fits most 15” laptops

  • Hidden zip pocket on back panel for your passport or cell phone

  • Great dimensions for most airline carry-ons. Measures 18” H x 11” W x 7” D

Haiku Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: a bit small in size for the price

Pros: backpacks are partly made from recycled plastics & are a super convenient carry on item

8

Johnny Urban

Best For: carry on backpacks & day packs

Price Range: $50-$100

Company Sustainable Ethics: Bags are made from 100% recycled plastic, cotton canvases and a PFC-free agent to prevent pollutants from entering the environment

Backpack Perks:

  • Roll top close

  • Classic designs

  • Fits 18L

  • Very lightweight

Johnyy Urban Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: not all of their products are 100% sustainably made

Pros: classic design that you’ll like for years

 

9

Kathmandu Outdoor Adventure Backpacks

Best For: outdoor adventurers & frequent fliers

Price Range: $60-$500

Company Sustainable Ethics: Kathmandu has done a terrific job on multiple fronts for a sustainable impact. They focus on workers rights and have created 5-star green buildings. And they use sustainable materials such as recycled cotton, recycled polyester, and sustainable wool.

Backpack Perks:

  • Rolltop to easily compress bag size
  • Laptop case removes with ease
  • Sustainable materials including Ripstop nylon; a woven fabric known for reducing tearing in your pack
  • My choice, the Federate Adapt backpack, can be used for travel, work or hiking

Kathmandu Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Pros: large range of unisex, men & womens backpacks in a range of adventure types

10

Lo & Sons

Best For: minimalist styles with expert functionality

Price Range: $100-$450

Company Sustainable Ethics: A happily evolving company, Lo & Sons has set specific goals to transition their products to be made more sustainably. Currently 15% of their products are done so by using recycled poly, a polyester-like fabric made from recycled water bottles.

They also have an organic cotton collection. This cotton is created without pesticides & chemicals, which means there will be ZERO excess nitrogen leaking into our bodies of water (nitrogen threatens sea & plant life)

Backpack Perks:

  • Timeless pieces that will last for a long time
  • Made for suitcases with a luggage sleeve to slide your bag onto easily
  • Each piece is made with frequent travelers in mind, meaning each has compartments, adjustable sleeves and high durability

Lo & Sons Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: majority of their items are not sustainably made, neither is their packaging

Pros: they are actively working on rectifying those packaging issues & their sustainable goals are specific, which means they are holding themselves accountable

 

Discover more about Sustainable Travel & how easy it can be for anyone to help the planet

11

Looptworks Upcycled Backpacks

Best For: modern style

Price Range: $60-$600

Company Sustainable Ethics: Looptworks is working on creating closed-loop solutions to manufacturing new items. They upcycle materials that would otherwise end up in landfills or be incinerated and create beautiful, modern backpacks. They produce their items in factories that follow fair labor laws.

Backpack Perks:

  • 100% upcycled material backpacks
  • More than just backpacks! They also have smaller handbags & apparel
  • Many items are limited supply, so there’s opportunity to own something unique

Looptworks Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: they use real leather

Pros: upcycling materials & only produce items in factories with fair labor laws, plus they have a lifetime warranty

12

Mafia Bags

Best For: water sport athletes for wetsuit storage

Price Range: $70-$200

Company Sustainable Ethics: Mafia Bags creates their backpacks using sails (windsurfing, kitesurfing & sailboat sails). They partner with athletes and sailors from around the world to donate their used sails. Mafia Bags is also a Certified B Corporation!

Backpack Perks:

  • Each bag is created by hand, so each is unique

  • Made from used sail material

  • Lifetime guarantee

Mafia Bag Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: not 100% made from sustainable material. They source locally in the US which is great, but their buckles and webbings don’t seem to be sustainably made

Pros: each piece is totally unique, shipping material is recyclable & if you donate a sail you get a bag for free!

 

13

Matt & Nat

Best For: stylish bags for day trips or flights

Price Range: $110-$300

Company Sustainable Ethics: Matt & Nat are a 100% vegan products company. Every item lining is made out of recycled plastic bottles. Cork and rubber are used for other items, and their vegan leather is made with PU (polyurethane) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

Matt & Nat frequently visit their factories to ensure that fair labor practices are being used and for the integrity of their products. And they promote upcycling of bags once a customer no longer wants to use their Matt & Nat purchase.

Backpack Perks:

  • 100% sustainably made
  • Beautifully crafted pieces
  • Each item has unique features

Matt & Nat Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: backpacks aren’t made for carry on suitcase travelers, meaning they are more stylish, less functional for long term travel

Pros: 100% sustainably made & stellar company standards for customers and their employees

14

Millican

Best For: adventure travelers

Price Range: $115-$200

Company Sustainable Ethics:

This English based company uses natural organic cotton, organic wool and vegetable-tanned leather. Recycled polyester and PET are also staples in their product development

Backpack Perks:

  • Heavy duty & waterproof canvases

  • Items are available in varying sizes depending on your needs

  • Their newer Maverick collection is created with Bionic® Canvas, which contains recycled plastics recovered from waterways & shorelines.

  • Classic neutral colors

  • Lifetime warranty

Millican Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: they use leather

Pros: they are testing the use of vegan leathers & they are transparent with which textile specialists they partner with

 

15

Patagonia

Best For: multi-use versatility for outdoor types, school, work, or travel

Price Range: $50-$300

Company Sustainable Ethics: Patagonia has been a leader in sustainabile practices for decades. Not only are they leaders for promoting fair labor practices & safe working conditions throughout their entire supply chain, they use so many sustainable materials for every one of their items (backpacks and more!) Check them out here.

Backpack Perks:

  • Every item is multi-purpose & versatile
  • Their ironclad guarantee

Patagonia Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Pros: they’re a leader in sustainability, so many options to choose from & great for those who love the outdoors

16

Pinqponq

Best For: travelers who love versatility

Price Range: $175-$300

Company Sustainable EthicsEach Pinqpong backpack is made out of 43 recycled PET-bottles and treated with a PFC-free (an innovative, nature-inspired approach to achieving water repellency without requiring the use of perfluorocarbons) water & stain repellents to prevent toxic chemicals from being used in their supply chain.

They are totally transparent about their manufacturing production, and work with audited factories in Vietnam.

Pinqponq is also Bluesign® certified and a member of the Fair Wear Foundation

Backpack Perks:

  • PinqPonq Bags can transition into duffels
  • Laptop compartment
  • Removable & adjustable straps
  • Water & stain repellent
  • Made with vegan materials

Pinqpong Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: the images of the bags make them look bulky (but I can’t speak from experience)

Pros: very transparent & continuing to improve their environmental footprint

 

17

Pixie Mood

Best For: stylish travelers with feminine flare, school

Price Range: $80-$100

Company Sustainable EthicsPixie Mood creates 100% cruelty free, vegan backpacks and also focuses on fair trade practices

Backpack Perks:

  • They have a wide range of sizes & styles

  • Bags are made with vegan leathers & suedes

Pixie Mood Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: uses polyurethane; which is manufactured out of crude oil

Pros: vegan leather & vegan suede

18

Qwstion

Best For: work, daypacks

Price Range: $200-$350

Company Sustainable Ethics: Qwstion makes their bags using organically grown fibers such as high-density cotton canvas and Bananatex®, a fiber they make out of bananas, and vegetable-tanned leather among other high quality & sustainable materials. They also source directly and work in conjunction with their suppliers to ensure quality.

Backpack Perks:

  • Stylish design

  • Padded laptop compartment

  • Detachable handles, so can be worn as a backpack or a tote bag

  • Water resistant

Qwstion Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: very expensive, use leather for their straps and lack of compartments in some bags.

 Pros: they use unique, sustainable materials for their bags & have excellent partnership with their suppliers to ensure quality

19

Rewilder

Best Fortravel, work & school

Price Range: $50-$120

Company Sustainable Ethics: Rewilder is comprised of a pair of women who use 100% salvaged, high-performance materials from various industries like the auto or beverage industries. Everything is collected & created in California so they’re not using fossil fuels on transportation.

Backpack Perks:

  • Every item is made with strong, durable material such as airbags & beer fiber cloths
  • PETA approved vegan
  • Laptop compartment

Rewilder Backpacks Pros/Cons:

All pros here!

Did you know that sustainable travel is more than carrying a reusable water bottle?

Learn what sustainable travel is here

20

Rust & Fray

Best For: stylish day packs

Price Range: $35-$300

Company Sustainable Ethics: Rust & Fray make their backpacks entirely out of upcycled materials that they source from manufacturing factories. They hunt for high quality pieces that would otherwise have been discarded and make them into one of a kind bags. They also partner with underprivileged individuals to help create the bags.

Backpack Perks:

  • Made entirely out of upcycled materials
  • Each bag is one of a kind piece

Rust & Fray Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: their backpacks are not for long travels, but more for day time explorations

Pros: 100% upcycled materials

 

 

21

Sandqvist

Best For: frequent flyers & hikers

Price Range: $130-$400

Company Sustainable Ethics: From materials to factory conditions, Sandqvist has great sustainable ethics in their backpack production. They use organic cotton, which uses ZERO chemicals, farmed by small-scale farmers. And any synthetic materials are recycled from post-consumer waste. They ensure that farmers are paid good wages with good working conditions.

Sandqvist also proudly boasts their repair shop where you can send in any old item for repair or return for a secondhand sale & receive a 20% discount off of a new item!

Sandqvist is also a member of the Fair Wear Foundation.

Backpack Perks:

  • Rolltop & zip closures
  • Laptop compartment
  • Rugged & stylish

Sandqvist Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: leather is used for some trimmings on a few items & some bags are quite expensive if you are a budget traveler

Pros: repair shop to ensure your item lasts for a long time, no chemical use on their natural materials & support workers conditions & fair wages

22

Solgaard

Best For: frequent travelers as a carry on backpack

Price Range: $115-$180

Company Sustainable Ethics: Solgaard has upped their sustainability efforts with a pledge to pull 1 million pounds of plastic waste from our oceans by the end of 2020 – for each item sold they pull 5lbs of plastic, and do so by partnering with The Plastic Bank.

Plus each backpack is made from upcycled plastic!

Backpack Perks:

  • Solar powered charger for your phone
  • Anti-theft lock
  • Secret compartments for important items (passport, money)
  • Drop-proof laptop sleeve

Solgaard Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Honestly, all I can find are pro’s with Solgaard

 

 

23

Tentree (Mobius Backpack)

Best For: carry on backpack, hikers & adventure travelers

Price Range: $118

Company Sustainable Ethics: The name says it all, Tentree plants ten trees for every item purchased! The Mobius backpack is made almost entirely out of recycled materials such as recycled polyester, algae, and plastic bottles

Backpack Perks:

  • Made with 31 recycled plastic bottles

  • Can be configured into 3 different size capacities

  • 4 way zipper allows for easy access to any pocket

  • Padded front pocket for electronics

  • Additional smaller compartments

Tentree Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: non-recyclable packaging & no basic colors for this backpack

Pros:  very versatile, bag durability & great for the environment since they help to plant so many trees

24

Timbuk2

Best For: work, travelers or weekend getaways

Price Range: $99-$250

Company Sustainable Ethics: Timbuk2 is another brand known for durability in their backpacks. This San Francisco local company uses only Bluesign® certified mills to source their materials.

They also support their own repair shop where customers can send their damaged (from use) items to, or DIYers can purchase spare parts to fix it themselves.

Timbuk2 has also partnered with The Renewal Workshop for unusable bags to be donated to

Backpack Perks:

  • Lots of styles of backpack to choose from
  • Many backpacks are versatile in use
  • Multiple compartments
  • Padded laptop sleeves
  • Lifetime warranty

Timbuk2 Backpacks Pros/Cons:

all Pros here!

25

United by Blue

Best For: adventure travelers

Price Range: $32-$180

Company Sustainable EthicsBased in my hometown city of Philadelphia (although kind of, not really, because I was raised in the suburbs outside of Philly), United by Blue is working diligently to clean up our oceans & waterways. They host cleanups throughout the country and educate their customers on the negatives of single use plastics.

For each item purchased they remove one pound of trash from waterways. Each backpack is made sustainably using recycled polyester, organic cotton and bison (*I’m guessing the Bison is the hide from the animal. The company states that “Repurposes the ranching industry’s unused – and often discarded- materials”). United by Blue is also a Certified B Corporation.

Backpack Perks:

  • Laptop sleeve
  • Multiple pockets for organized storage
  • Many backpacks convert to totes
  • Water repellent
  • Lifetime guarantee

United by Blue Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: they use leather for their straps

Pros: strong effort to help the environment

26

WAYKS

Best For: frequent travelers looking for a stellar carry on backpack

Price Range: $200-$285

Company Sustainable Ethics: WAYKS has the most thought out travel backpack that I have seen. Combine that with their sustainability efforts & you have a top contender for best sustainable travel backpack. They partner with a manufacturing company that utilizes Bluesign® and they are a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. Their backpacks are made out of recycled PET and are PFC free!

Backpack Perks:

  • Versatile bags, thoughtfully designed

  • Removable back padding

  • Roll top closures

  • Internal organizers

  • Side zipper for easier access to your laptop

  • Multiple compartments

WAYKS Backpacks Pros/Cons:

Cons: price is a bit high for many budget travelers, with no lifetime guarantee

Pros:  they focus on creating durable AND versatile products so that they don’t have to over produce anything & are a member of Fair Wear Foundation

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES & FACTS & DEFINITIONS

If you saw a term or phrase that you didn’t understand, read below for definitions, links & stats about producing sustainable products.

*Using recycled polyester, instead of virgin polyester, cuts energy by 50%, saves 20% on water & reduces air pollution by 60%. Recyled Polyester is typically made out of plastic bottles.

 

*Less than 5% of plastics produced are recycled, which is why it’s important to support brands that utilize recycled materials

 

*Textile dyeing & treatment contributes up to 20% of industrial water pollution (much of which happens in third world countries

 

*8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans each year. With plastic bottles making up 1.5 million of those tons annually

 

*Negatives of Crude Oil (for polyurethane) is that it has been known to have harmfully toxic effects on the body

 

Bluesign® defines the standard for environmentally friendly and sustainable materials.

Fair Wear Foundation is an independent multi stakeholder organisation that works with garment brands, garment workers and industry influencers to improve labour conditions in garment factories

GOTS certified  is a textile production certification that limits the use of toxic bleaches, dyes and other chemical inputs during the production process of textiles. It is internationally recognized as the toughest organic textile standard because it goes far beyond verifying the organic farming process to include every step of manufacturing.

Recycled PET– PET is polyethylene terephthalate (gotta love a long, scientific word… and it’s acronym), and is used in almost every ‘recyclable’ item. It’s easily recycled, so it can be used again & again to make new products.

PFC free– PFC stands for Perfluorocarbons, and is often what is used to create water repellent materials. It’s been linked to major health issues. So a product that is PFC free is a good thing.

 

Made Trade

Made Trade curates the most exceptionally designed, ethically-sourced goods from artisans and makers around the world. They hand select only the best fair trade, sustainable, USA made, vegan and heritage products. They carry backpacks from brands like Nisolo, Svala, and Alchemy Goods.

You can find more easy to do sustainable travel tips and travel guides here OR subscribe below to receive a monthly newsletter with travel updates!

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Easiest Sustainable Travel Tips

Easiest Sustainable Travel Tips

Sustainable Travel

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

Ready for the top 12 EASIEST sustainable travel tips?

        We’ve all heard the term of sustainability, and we’ve all seen the images of the burning Amazon rainforests, plastic-filled oceans and abuse towards animal videos.

        The turning point in all of this comes from your acknowledgment that it exists to actively doing something about it.

        There is a sliding scale for sustainable travel, and I don’t expect anyone to ‘cold turkey’ change their lifestyle. So to start I’ve put together my easiest and most useful tips and tricks for you. These will help you on your path to making a difference in the world.

Top 12 EASIEST Sustainable Travel Tips & Tricks

(1) Research!

This is so so simple to do. You don’t need to research every small detail about the destination, but you can easily research:

  • Which hotels have sustainable policies
  • How to get from the airport to your lodging using public transportation
  • The best local eateries
  • If the destination isn’t vegetarian-friendly or readily acceptable of your preferred diet needs (so you know you need to pack some healthy snacks)

By doing research, you are ensuring that when you arrive you are prepared and not resorting to less sustainable methods. Because if you’re jetlagged, you’ll be more likely to go the lazier route, which trust me, is rarely a fun, or affordable option.

(2) Don’t Litter

I don’t think this needs a further explanation, other than don’t be that a**hole who lazily let’s go of their garbage when walking around. Feel free to go one step further and pick up garbage if you see it to bring to a waste bin.

(3) Be Prepared

Always carry with you a reusable water bottle & cloth bags with you. This way you won’t need to purchase plastic water bottles or use the plastic bags so many vendors use worldwide.

(4) Avoid purchasing or eating unique species of animals

For example: crocodile handbags, kangaroo steaks.

While it may sound cool, most of the time these ‘local delicacies’ are born out of tourism and aren’t actually foods that locals are eating. And you never know (1) what conditions the animals are raised in for consumption and/or (2) if the hunting of these creatures is leading to extinction.

(5) Eat Locally

While Subways and McDonald’s can be quite convenient for travelers, they are also major polluters. By eating locally, you’ll be enjoying food that is much fresher and have an authentic travel experience, all while helping the environment and the local economy.

Did you know that sustainable travel is more than carrying a reusable water bottle? Learn what sustainable travel is here]

(6) Purchase Locally

This can mean purchasing local groceries at farmers markets or souvenirs that are handmade by locals. By doing this you’re supporting the local economy and avoiding mass-produced, poorly managed exports that are bad for the environment.

(7) Take Public Transportation

Public transportation is great because as a traveler you can learn about the destination even more. It’s also a challenge that every traveler should experience. You can learn a lot about a place by its public transportation system. Bonus is that it saves you a ton of money. 

You can also WALK! Not only is this a stellar way to keep in shape while traveling, walking helps eliminate transportation carbon emissions. Plus you’ll see so much more of your destination than you would from a car.

(8) Ask Questions

A wonderful aspect of traveling is learning something new. Whether it be about the destinations history or a local custom, like how to order at a coffee shop. Being inquisitive shows that you are respecting the place you are visiting.

*Another great way you can ask questions is asking your hotel staff what their plastic use, water, and food waste policies are. Being a curious traveler at the very least plants the seeds of these issues, which can provoke change. I’ll often leave these questions in my end of stay review or surveys.

(9) Offest your Flights Carbon Emissions

For every plane, you board there are carbon emissions that coincide with your flight. You can cheaply and proactively offset your carbon emissions to reputable groups that use the funds to help the environment in other ways. You can check my favorite places to do this here.

(10) Lose the Weight

I don’t mean your body weight, you’re beautiful just the way you are 🙂 What I mean is pack less. Packing less lightens the load on airplanes and energy in taxis (if you take one) which leads to lower fuel usage. Plus you’ll save money on luggage fees and won’t need to strain yourself lugging around heavy suitcases.

 

(11) Connect with Locals through Experiences & Excursions

There are so many fun excursions you can do and what better way to do them than with a local who knows the hidden gems of your destination and can answer any of your questions. You’re also most likely helping support them by giving the money directly back to them. You find great ideas with Walks and AirBnb Experiences.

 

(12) Raise the Bar

Hold yourself to a higher standard and be the most respectable version of yourself when you travel. I say this as an American, but multiple times I have had people from other countries quietly ask me if all Americans are the same; using not-so-great words like pompous and arrogant… and if we all wear cowboy hats and eat cheeseburgers every day.

Our international image is not the best, unfortunately, but you can be the person who changes someone’s negative preformed ideas to positive remembrances based on the way you carry yourself and how you respect the place and people you are visiting.

 

You can find more easy to do sustainable travel tips and travel guides here OR subscribe below to receive a monthly newsletter with travel updates!

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

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What is Sustainable Travel

What is Sustainable Travel

Sustainable Travel

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

        There is no better feeling than touching down in a new exotic location for a well-deserved vacation. I thrive off of that feeling of exploring a new place. And after many travel adventures that blissful feeling slowly fades away when considering the damaging mark, I may leave behind after all of my fun.

        This negativity doesn’t have to be the case though. Impactful, positive change is possible on an individual level, and it’s possible through sustainable travel.

Included in this post is:

  • The breakdown of popular environmental buzzwords
  • A description of what sustainable travel is
  • What sustainable travel is NOT
  • Why sustainable travel is important and
  • The benefits of sustainable travel

        There are a lot of buzzwords surrounding sustainable travel – climate change, environmentalism, green living – it can be difficult to understand what they all mean and how they play a part in our travels.

        So, what does sustainable travel mean?

        Well, it can mean many different things for many different people (sorry, you won’t find one singular clear answer here- but you will find a ton of easy to digest information)

I would like to start by thanking you for choosing to help make an even better and healthier planet. Even just by showing interest and reading this article is a wonderful start. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but if we make small adjustments and pursue personal growth then we can have an impact on an individual scale.

So, let’s get to it!

What is sustainable travel?

        As stated previously, sustainable travel has many names connotated around the subject. However, the basic premise of what sustainable travel means is to leave behind a positive impact, smaller energy footprint and influence progressive change before, during and after you travels in the environment, culture and location of your travels.

        Yowzahs, that’s a mouthful.

        And this mouthful is because sustainable travel doesn’t mean just one ‘thing’. It doesn’t fit into one definitive definition. It means something different to everyone. So I’ll do my best to break it down for you.

        We live during a time where many of the determining factors of our lives reside on a sliding scale; our sexuality, religion, political views, so it makes sense that our environmentalism and sustainable travels live on a sliding scale as well.

        Our focus for sustainable travel is on long term perseverance, avoiding harm, reducing our negative environmental impacts and utilizing replenishing resources.

UNWTO defines sustainable travel as “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”

Terms you may recognize:

SUSTAINABLE

ECO-CONSCIOUS

ENVIRONMENTALISM

GREEN TRAVEL

Aren’t these terms all the same?

No!

        Collectively they are similar, but side by side they are different. The four terms you may see most often are:

  • Green Travel: green travel means focusing your travel efforts on ways to leave as minimal a carbon footprint as possible.

Example– walking instead of taking a taxi.

  • Responsible Travel: responsible travel means holding yourself and others accountable to respecting locals, destinations and the environment when traveling.

Example– not defacing historical landmarks by scratching your initials in.

  • Eco-Conscious Travel: eco-conscious travel means making economically conscious choices for the environment. It’s comparable to green travel.

Example– purchasing locally made souvenirs instead of something from a souvenir shop

  • Sustainable Travel: sustainable travel embodies all of the above terms and more while traveling in a way that doesn’t take away from the destination.

Consider sustainable travel as three passageways coming together:

  1. The Environmental Pillar: the Environmental pillar focuses on nature & wildlife we impact while traveling. It includes things such as our carbon footprint, water usage, waste (plastic and others) and respecting & maintaining natural habitats of wildlife.
  2. The Social Pillar: The Social pillar focuses on our impact to local people & their cultural communities. As travelers this means supporting locally owned businesses, NGOs and charities, and researching to make sure that wages are fair and work environments are safe.
  3. The Economic Pillar: The Economic pillar focuses on travelers spending money & supporting businesses during their trips for positive outcomes. By supporting locally run hotels, tours and restaurants we can uplift the local economy.

In short, sustainable travel is valuing mother nature, history, culture and respect above our own desires. It’s not just doing good, but also helping to educate others.

What sustainable travel is NOT:

        People tend to feel that sustainable travel means having to sacrifice parts of a vacation or their enjoyment. Or that it implies everyone should stay home and never travel. Neither of these are the case at all.

        Many destinations rely heavily on tourism cash flow. In fact, 1 in 12 jobs are based on tourism WORLDWIDE! And staying put at home only blocks personal growth and cultural understanding.

        Sustainable travel is not about limiting your vacation or trip to accommodate sustainable tactics, it’s about adding greater value. To you and those around you.

Many are quick to point fingers of blame at social media ‘influencers’ and blame them for overtourism (learn what Over Tourism means). And while some ‘influencers’ may need to absorb a lesson about respect and self-control, much of this issue is solely ignorance – ignorance means a lack of knowledge or understanding – they lack the know-how of not walking through unpaved areas, or climbing on roofs for that perfect shot.

Don’t be quick to place blame, instead be swift to help educate.

Unfortunately, there is a strong mindset that many feel, which I’ll call ‘just because I can/want to, I will’ (or I deserve to) 

  • Just because I’m able to flit from one destination to the next, means I will do so (at the expense of flight carbon emissions)
  • Just because I want to eat meat from the menu, I will (and not concern myself with it’s potential to endanger species and deforestation)
  • Just because I have the money to dish out, I will spend it wherever I feel is most convenient (instead of researching a more ethical option)

        Sustainable travel is not a poor man’s way of traveling, it can be whatever you want it to be.

        I’ve enjoyed traveling more luxuriously in nice resort hotels, and I sought out ones that focus on sustainable lodging tactics.

        I’ve treated myself to meals out at fancy local restaurants, and I researched ones that cook with their own fresh and local ingredients.

You don’t need to choose between one or the other.

Why is sustainable travel important?

        Or what I like to say, why should you give a crap about it?

        Sustainable travel is important because planet earth only has a finite amount of resources. As a species, humans have become accustomed to convenience. And this convenience has led to microplastics being found at the depths of our oceans, deforestation of one of a kind ecological systems (like the Amazon), air pollution and more.

        We’ll be leaving our homes in an unrecognizable planet for future generations

Find more of my best sustainable travel resources here!

        Does tourism change a place? Yes. But that is inevitable. If a location is not a sought-out destination yet, it most likely will be at some point no matter what sustainable travel choices we make. It’s up to us to ‘vote’ on how those destinations are built up with our spending habits.

        With an uptick in visitors, comes with it new hotels, tour buses, restaurants catered to the tourists, and much more.

        Most travels are not sustainable; airfare releases carbon emissions, all-inclusive resorts are built on natural habitats, money is the main focus not the longevity of the destination.

        Yet, if we choose to only stay at local residences (if you haven’t checked our AirBnb yet, here’s a discount code for you!), or hotels that focus on sustainable efforts, and only eat at local establishments, then we are voting in support of those ethical practices.

        Like I stated earlier, tourism can provide an annual living for many. So while it can bring with it a lot of destruction, tourism also has the capability to bring a lot of wonderful things as well.

Become a stellar sustainable traveler by following these TOP 12 Sustainable Travel Tips!

What are the benefits of sustainable tourism?

        What I love most about sustainable travel is that you can see the ripple effect of ethically spending your money.  Plus there are so many fun, plastic-free, gadgets that you get to tote around!

        One of the best benefits of sustainable travel is the understanding that you ARE making a difference. Your small steps to travel improvements are seen by those around you, even if you don’t notice it.

        We are gifted with the opportunity and options to protect the planet. So instead of acting without concern, let’s travel with purpose and enjoyment.

Heading for a LONG flight soon?

Check out these carry on items to ensure a comfortable flight

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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The Best Carry On Essentials

The Best Carry On Essentials

Sustainable Travel

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

        Mastering air travel is one of the best feelings a traveler can have, and can be a difficult task even for the most avid traveler. We want to feel comfortable (especially if on a long haul flight) and also not feel weighed down by bringing too much and feeling squished in our seats.

        After years of trial and error I have finally built out a standard Carry On Essentials pack and checklist. Successfully packing just the correct amount and quality of items into my carry on purse or backpack, while also maintaining a sustainably positive impact.

        My carry on essentials include a mix of ‘things to do’ and comfort items – this way there is a provided distraction from the uncomfortable airplane seat and a feeling of ease knowing I’m treating my body with my health in mind. Every item on here has been tested by me or a close friend whose opinion I trust, and many are good for your health and the environment.

Carry On Essentials

For the Sustainable & Savvy Traveler

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

Toiletries

These toiletries are a wonderful combination of basic needs, a well maintained beauty routine, and a spa-like experience – because you might as well make your flight as conveniently fun as possible… without having to hire a massage therapist as your seat neighbor.

Chapstick / Lip Balm

Airplanes are notorious for making our skin dry. Think about it – hundreds of bodies are squished into a tiny space and the air is recycled over and over again to keep it breathable for those on board. A basic need for your toiletries bag should be chapstick.

Not all lip balms are created equal, and while I am still searching for THE perfect combination of quality versus sustainable (sustainable ownership and ingredients), I would suggest trying these out.

Facial Cleanser Wipes

It’s important to not wear makeup while flying. Having a fresh face prevents clogged pores, so start fresh when you board with these compostable face cleansing wipes by the brand Yes To..

SPF moisturizer

Sun exposure can be much greater when flying, so it’s important to keep your skin protected and prevent aging. Many make ups have some spf in them, but I always think it’s best to have a clean face, aka NO MAKEUP, when flying. I really enjoy Mario Badescu’s spf moisturizer, as it protects my skin, while moisturizing and doesn’t clog my pores (my skin leans towards an oily complexion). Plus! It comes in a travel compliant size.

*I have reached out to Mario Badescu about using less plastic for their containers. You can help sway opinions too as a valued customer to brands like this. Email them here!

Facial Spray

It’s good to refresh the moisture your face receives during a flight, so I often use one of these facial sprays from Mario Badescu every hour or two

Aloe, Cucumber and Rosewater Facial Sprayhttps://www.mariobadescu.com/product/facial-spray-trio-travel-edition

Jade Roller

When jade rollers first came out there was a mad rush for everyone to purchase one. While the trendy rush has died down, the value in using one hasn’t diminished. Using a jade roller while flying is great for allowing skincare products to absorb into your skin and it helps to eliminate puffiness (when your skin dries, your body tries to retain water, so it bloats). It’s like giving yourself a mini spa treatment and massage.

Lotion in Resuable containers

If your face needs moisture, so do your hands. Call me crazy, but I hate having dry, cracked hands, so I always try to bring lotion with me for flights. While there are small plastic lotions you can buy, I would suggest packing your preferred brand in a reusable container, like these silicone ones!

Lavender Oil

If you have anxiety or stress while traveling and/or difficulty trying to get some rest while flying, I would highly suggest utilizing the lulling power of lavender oil. Not only does lavender calm the nerves, it is a proven sleep aid (I use it at home regularly to calm down before sleeping).

*DoTerra is a stellar essential oil brand that Dr. Mariza Snyder recommends. Dr. Mariza wrote the book The Essential Oils Hormone Solution and she also recommends this brand for their sustainable efforts and quality of oils.

Deodorant

If you think you won’t smell after a flight you need to check yo’self. I’ll give you a statistic of which I’ve done my own personal research – 100% of the people flying on a plane will smell of body odor upon their exit of said plane. So packing deodorant in your carry on bag is a necessity.

And while we’ve all become accustomed to the major brands scents, many of those name brands are actually leading causes to breast cancer, so using a natural, aluminum free brand is vitally important.

I’m in the process of testing out multiple different brands, but so far have LOVED Lavanilla’s (especially their passion fruit scent, so unique!) It lasts for hours, unlike a few of the other all natural brands, and is conveniently sized for ease of traveling.

Here are a few other brands you could try out that I’ve heard great things about:

Corpus Third Rose – vegan, natural, no coconut (some people are allergic to coconut based deodorants) if you use this link you’ll receive $5 off your first order!

-Tarte’s Clean Queen Natural Deodorant

-Ursa Major Hoppin’ Fresh Deodorant

Comb

Keep your mane looking classy and comb it out using one of these shower combs. Just be sure not to toss your loose hairs on your neighbor.

Toothbrush & Paste

While mints are great for in between meals, if you’re on an overnight flight its a good idea to keep up your normal routine as much as possible, such as brushing your teeth. I really like the sustainable brand, Dirt Don’t Hurt Me, that also happens to be female owned AND in San Diego (hitting all of my happy points for supporting local businesses)

 

A totally compostable toothbrush (minus the bristles) and the tooth powder lasts forever and no TSA issue with liquids.

Blossom Cup

This one is for the ladies. Even if I’m not on my period, I always pack my blossom cup with me … because you never know. Just like you would pack extra tampons, but this is totally sustainable! Blossom Cups are awesome and while it takes a hot second to adjust they are way better for convenience overall.

Mini perfume

Step off your flight feeling fresh & frisky with some light perfume that you can spray as your leave the plane.

Hair clips

I use a basic brand of hair clips from Sally Beauty Salon, which I cannot find online. I love the claw clips I use, and as someone with thick, long hair, these hold my hair back no problem.

Hand sanitizer

Did you know your tray table is the most bacteria filled space in your airplane area?

Use hand sanitizer to prevent picking up anything icky from your seat.

Find more of my best sustainable travel resources here!

Electronics

Laptop (& Charger of course)

This is the exact Asus laptop that I own and I love it. I sought out a laptop that was light weight (for travel), could handle a lot of programs running at once, and would have excellent screen quality for photo editing. This laptop met all of those needs. And Yes, I ordered it on Amazon so I didn’t want a store clerk to try to sell me what he needs to get off of the sales floor.

For each flight, I try to have a course downloaded, some work to complete or photos to edit. So, find what would work best for you without having internet access.

Camera Gear & Cushioned Case

I always pack my camera gear with me as a part of my carry on because I don’t trust airline employees not to toss my bag to destruction (witnessing someone pull a bag so hard on a baggage conveyor until the bag tore into pieces was convincing enough).

I use the Sony a7 series mirrorless camera and I love it! I love the Sony brand for multiple reasons and will eventually put together a blog post with all of the reasons why, but just know that it’s great for both beginners and advanced photographers.

I also always pack my camera and lenses in this stellar shockproof padded case. Not only does it make it easy for me to see what I’m grabbing, but I feel comfortable knowing that it’s padded for protection.

Headphones

 Headphones are best chosen based on your personal preference – if you want the long string, in your ear style, or over the ear style like these Bose headphones. I’ve always enjoyed the over the ear type of headphones, and am in love with this cute color. Plus they last for awhile as opposed to those string ones (which are also easily lost).

Extra Charger/s

An extra charger should be a part of your regularly packed items regardless, but having one in your carry on is important if you need your phone fully charged as soon as you deplane.

The Mophie external charger is great for a smaller charger and fits in most purses, while this solar powered charger is perfect for many fitting inside of larger bags and is sustainable (solar!).

Travel Adapter

I’ve had my fair share of travel adapters, and I love the compactness & ease of use with the Castris Universal Adapter.

Plus you can use this to charge your laptop in a car with a cigarette lighter charger if you have a USB cord.

Entertainment

Movies & TV Shows downloaded

This isn’t exactly an item so much as something that is really smart to have saved onto your laptop

Sudoku or Puzzle Book

Having a small puzzle book is great for those moments where you don’t have the mindset to sit and read and can’t use your laptop. I love sudoku and this travel sized sudoku book.

Lightweight Book

Keeping our travel items on the lighter side, aim for smaller paperback books

Interested in learning more about Sustainable travel? Check these out

Comfort

Change of COMFORTABLE Clothes

I don’t understand how anyone can dress in professional attire when flying. At the very least you can dress nice for the airport and change on the plane.

Most likely your outfit will not help you be upgraded to first or business class. Those upgrades are reserved for those status holding flyers.

I have officially found the most comfortable outfit to wear on a plane – this cotton jumpsuit. I cannot recommend this jumpsuit enough. You can style it to look cute, and feel like you’re wearing pajamas. I have it in two colors and have worn it on my past few flights, and will probably continue to do so.

Foot Rest

This is THE best travel related purchase I have ever made (next to this jumpsuit), especially for overnight travel. If you have short legs and a red eye flight having a foot rest comes in clutch. It allows more comfortable rest and prevents lower back pain.

Extra Socks

Just as your skin bloats to retain moisture while flying, your legs will bloat from lack of movement and the air pressure, so compression socks are key for preventing blood clots and avoiding swollen ankles when you land.

Even if your flight isn’t too long, I would suggest packing a pair of warm socks for the flight. For every flight I take I always put on wool socks to keep my tootsies nice and warm. And please don’t be that person that puts their barefoot on the chair in front of them! Just wear socks.

Slide on Sandals

If you’re like me, and you stand up every 2-3 hours on a flight to move around. If you wear sneakers or boots you’ll have to gear back up each time you stand up. Which is why I love these sandals – you can easily slide into them. Plus they’re cute and comfortable for everyday wear.

*These aren’t the exact sandals that I have, as they don’t carry them anymore but I like this Dolce Vita brand. There sandals have always been comfortable for me.

Extra Undies

 Do I need to explain this? Change your undies after a few hours. Hello hygiene.

Eye Mask & Earplugs

These bad boys are always in my carry on bag because you never know if you’ll need them at your destination. What’s great about this eye mask is that it’s contoured so they won’t squish your eyes or lashes, and they come with ear plugs.

Travel Pillow

I’ve had my travel pillow for years & can’t find it online, but if I needed to purchase a new one, I’d go with this- its versatility means you could use it as a mini body pillow for when you arrive

Comfy Scarf

Airplanes range in cabin temperature, so it’s best to prepare for this by wearing a cozy scarf. If it’s large enough it can function as a blanket or bunched up pillow. And if it’s too hot on the plane, you can easily store it in the overhead bins.

Reusable & Collapsible Mug

I love these collapsible silicone to go mugs. They’re small enough to fit in my purse and are super easy to clean, so when I finish my drink I can quickly rinse it out and fold it back up.

Reusable Water Bottle

Most airports now have water bottle filling stations, so pack an empty reusable water bottle and fill it up once you’re through security. Not only will this help you from spending money for water bottles at the airport, but you’ll also be participating in the number one way to reduce single use plastics!

(Because you won’t need to use the dang plastic cups airlines give out for their beverages. I’ve never had an issue asking a flight attendant to fill up my water bottle when I ask during those beverage carts run throughs.)

The bottle linked is a pricier water bottle and if you are prone to losing things maybe purchase yourself a less expensive one. However, I’ve had friends use this water bottle brand and love it. Larq uses UV light to clean any water inside of it of 99.9% of any chemicals or bacteria.

Cup Holder

If you’re like my boo, you have a lot going on at your tray table – laptop, headphones, books, hot coffee, etc. These cup holders are fantastic for creating a more convenient space without the potential of spilling hot coffee on all over your items. Since we’ve purchased ours they’ve upgraded the item to be able to support small devices for screen watching too!

Reusable Tote Bag

Pack one to two cloth bags into your carry on bag. You never know when you might make a purchase while wandering through airports. I almost always use these for food that I pack with me or buy at airports instead of using a dreaded plastic bag.

Snacks & Meals

If you’re looking to save yourself some money while traveling then pack some of your own food. Airports are known for having pricier than average food options.

And while sometimes it’s unavoidable to purchase food at an airport (ever experienced 30 hours of flying with layovers at random times of the day? Sometimes to survive those crazy travel days you need to treat yo’self to some yummy goodies.)

Here are a few items I typically pack for myself and for Marcus:

  • vegan protein bars; Lara bars
  • fruit (if not international)
  • pb&j sandwich
  • subway sandwich
  • dried fruit
  • pretzels
  • peanut butter stuffed dates covered in dark chocolate (homemade)
  • dark chocolate

Medical

I have a small tupperware container where I pack different medicines for my trips. Keeping these with you on the flight is convenient in case you suddenly feel a migraine coming on or the start of a cold.

  • ibuprofen; I’m not a huge fan of taking medications (unless I’m crazy sick) but you never know when a bug will perk up or a migraine may hit)
  • dayquil
  • melatonin; A great sleep aid for those who can benefit from it. I personally can’t use Melatonin as it gives me vivid dreams that I cannot wake up from.
  • traveler’s probiotic; since I can’t bring kombucha on planes, I pack a traveler’s probiotic. I pack one to take every other day during my travels. And bonus points because this brand comes in a glass bottle!
  • Visine
  • band aids

Misc & Good to Have’s

  • Reusable Tote Bag
  • Pen & pencil
  • Business cards – You never know who you’ll meet while traveling
  • Passport – Duh… haha
  • Screenshots of your reservation info for flights, transport & hotel/lodging

Breath Mints

Find a mint brand that you like and keep some in your toiletries bag. Your seat neighbor will be happy they aren’t sitting next to anyone too smelly (more anti-stank items are below haha)

Blue Light Glasses

These are the blue light prevention glasses that I have and I love them. I’ll be honest, I initially purchased three different pairs from different companies so that I could see how they looked on my face, and these were my absolute favorite.

Bonus- Amber Eyewear comes with a nice sturdy case and cleaning pad for their glasses. 

Bonus #2- If you have an HSA, these glasses can be reimbursed through it!

*They had some plastic packaging that I emailed their customer support about. Their response was quick and I was told they are currently working on transitioning from plastic. If you purchase glasses from them and see they use plastic, email them. The more valued customers who raise their voice on sustainable efforts will make an impact on their corporate decision making.

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

Follow Along!

Start your own blog today!

Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

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Travel Guide to Bern, Switzerland

Travel Guide to Bern, Switzerland

Sustainable Travel

An Ultimate Guide for what to see & do when traveling to Bern, Switzerland

(and what to skip!)

Note: this post contains affiliate links to products we love and have purchased ourselves. Clicking these links doesn’t cost you any extra money, and you’re supporting us by doing so. You can view our disclosure page for additional details

Experience the effortlessly charming city of Bern, Switzerland. The fifth largest city in the country, and Switzerland’s capital, Bern is a compact but adorably picturesque city. A place that was once home to the physicist Albert Einstein, known for bears, Berenese dogs and the colorful River Aare, Bern is perfect for a city break and is still an off-the-radar gem of Switzerland.

Below you will find a detailed travel guide to Bern, Switzerland including where to stay, why you should visit Bern and the top things to do in the city.

[If you found your way here through my Sustainable Travel page, then you may just be interested in my findings and viewpoints on Barenpark. Click here to scroll to that section.]

Why go to Bern?

 Why should I go to Bern?

        There are so many beautiful places to visit Switzerland and its surrounding countries, yet I would still highly recommend a visit to Bern, and here’s why:

        The city is meticulously preserved, which is most likely why it’s old town (also called the aldstadt) was named a UNESCO World Heritage site all the way back in 1983! Literally every corner you turn there are picture perfect places to soak up. And it doesn’t hurt that life is slower paced than many other major european cities. So, you’ll be exploring a ‘big’ city but enjoying it as if it’s a small town.

 

Fun fact: Bern, Switzerland earned its name from the founder around the early 1900’s after he apparently killed a bear who came too close to the city while it was being built. (More about how this fact led to a not too pretty, in fact very negative, animal rights situation… more on that later. Keep reading to find out!) Since then, the city’s flag and emblem has always shown a bear.

Where is Bern?

Bern, Switzerland is located southwest of the major city of Zurich, and only an hour train ride from the crisp blue lakes bordering Interlaken. The city is hugged by the beautifully bright & clean River Aare

    Where to stay in Bern?

            The city of Bern goes farther beyond the altstadt (old town), so be sure to book your lodging inside of the old town area, as this is where the charming, picturesque part of the city is located.

            We stayed at the Hotel Savoy Bern and loved it! The location was not only within walking distance to the main train station (which will save you money from having to order a taxi or public transportation), but the rooms were very spacious, had great views and the interior was modernly beautiful.

            Be sure to check out other lodgings options – I typically use Booking.com as they list more than just hotels. There are luxury homes, B&Bs and apartments. Lodging options in Bern, Switzerland

      How long should I stay in Bern?

      We stayed in Bern for three nights and felt like we were able to leisurely enjoy our time here. One day would not be enough, so I would suggest at a minimum two full days and depending on your travel style, at most four nights.

        If you’re planning visits to other parts of Switzerland, be sure to explore my other posts about this enchanting country here!

          How to get around Bern:

                  While there is an airport near Bern, it’ll be much easier to arrive by train. Once you arrive via train, it is a five to ten minute walk to get to the old town part of the city. Bern’s old town is shaped like a horseshoe bend with the turquoise River Aare giving it its shape. Once there you will notice that there are trams and buses available. However, we did not once use them as the city is so accessible on foot. In fact, most of the traffic you’ll see will be pedestrian foot traffic.

                  Bern, Switzerland has recently installed bike stations throughout the city, which I would definitely recommend utilizing. You could bike around all of the old town in half a day this way. Check out this map for the location of the docking stations within the old town of Bern.

            Walk around Berns beautifully preserved old town

                      The city of Bern has transformed into a metropolis since it was rebuilt after a terrible fire in the early 1400’s. However the aldstadt has kept its european charm and has remained intact since the 15th century rebuild. Known for its 6 kilometers of ‘covered arcades’ – not actual arcades, but outdoor promenades – locals refer to them as “Lauben” – they are the longest weather sheltered shopping promenade in Europe

                      While you’re walking around, try to find the Kindlifresser statue, aka the Child Eater statue. Yep, you read that correctly. There is a statue with a man eating a sack of babies… no one is quite sure what it depicts, but it should be a great example of the boogeyman tactics for parents to use.

              Fun fact – there are over 100 fountains in this small old town!

                Ogle at the Zytglogge

                          The Zytglogge is a famous astronomical clock. It was Bern’s western city gate back in the 12th century, and is now a major site to see in the old town part of Bern. This 800+ year old clock still functions with all of its mechanical figures, and on the hour you can watch it ‘perform’. There is a museum/walk through tour you can do, but truth be told, I felt this was unnecessary. But I suppose it depends on your love for clockwork.

                    Walk to the top of the Bern Cathedral

                              A dominant landmark in Bern, this cathedral is the tallest religious building in all of Switzerland. Not only is it a great workout walking up the 222 steps, but the view is beautiful. I’m personally not always a fan of views from super high up because you miss out on so much detail, but the view from Bern Cathedral is perfect in terms of height without being too far away. It’s also the highest place to view the city from.

                        Visit the Rosengarten

                                  Bern’s Rosengarten is great for both a relaxing afternoon in a charming park and vistas of the entire city from across the River Aare. It is an uphill climb to reach the park, but you are rewarded with great views of Bern. There is a statue of Einstein sitting on a bench that is perfect for capturing cute pictures with the historical figures.

                                  The Rosengarten would be good to visit even in the fall, and for sunset as the sun dips below the city skyline.

                            Explore the Bundeshaus

                                      The Bundeshaus is the Swiss Federal Assembly building in Bern. I’ve become particularly choosey when it comes to spending my travel time inside of museums and historical sites, so while I typically wouldn’t suggest going inside of a government building, the Swiss do it justice. They offer FREE tours of inside the Bundeshaus, however will be closed to the public if parliament is in session. You can find the dates they are closed here.

                                Shop at the Parliament Square weekly market

                                          In front of Bundeshaus is Parliament Square, which is great for people watching, and where Bern hosts a weekly market. Every Tuesday and Saturday morning you can enjoy local produce and Swiss foods.

                                          Maybe you’ll feel inclined to buy some treats and then enjoy them while sitting on the steps in the back of Bundeshaus. This part of the building sits against the River Aare so will provide a nice relaxing place to enjoy a morning treat.

                                    Channel Albert Einstein’s intelligence

                                              Learn about the famous physicist and his life while he lived in Bern, Switzerland by visiting the house he used to live in. This house museum is where he lived when he developed his famous theory of relativity. Overall, it was a fairly interesting place to visit as Einstein had a unique life and also traveled the world.

                                              (There is a good cafe directly below it as well)

                                        Swim in the Aare

                                                  If you plan on visiting Bern in the summer, than I’d suggest packing a swimsuit as you can swim in the beautifully clean River Aare. I can’t speak personally about this as we visited in the fall, but a local gave us the following information on how to swim in the Aare in Bern : enter at Eicholz recreation area and float down to the Freiban Marzili.

                                            Enjoy the sunset with a view

                                                     Grab a bottle of wine or some beers from a local store and enjoy the sun setting over the rust red rooftops of Bern at the Rosengarten or from the back side of the Bundeshaus (Parliament Building).

                                                Take it slow & people watch

                                                          I loved the pace of the city of Bern. A city that felt effortlessly slow paced. My suggestion, pick up a cup of coffee in the morning and sit in one of the squares to people watch. There was a square close to our hotel that had a life size chess set. We watched a group of older men play while starting their day with espressos, beers and cigars. It’s moments like these where you can begin to feel the heart of a place you travel to.

                                                          Another way to immerse yourself in a new destination is to…

                                                    Take part in a local event or festival

                                                              As Bern is the capital of Switzerland there are quite a few events that you can attend. We stumbled upon a cultural food festival while there and loved it. You can find more of Bern’s events here.

                                                                Translated this means the Bear Park. As an animal lover and protector I am always hesitant about visiting and suggesting others to visit places that house (unfortunately, ‘house’ is a light term used here, when often it’s a prison) animals of any kind. I try my best to research prior to visiting and especially spending any money on places like these.

                                                                Unfortunately, Bern housed a cement bear pit since its inception of officially becoming Bern in the 1500’s. Looking at pictures of what it used to be, which was maintained up until 2009, it makes me feel really sad that that went on for so long. Happily though, the Bern bear pit has been transformed into a bear park. The park is over 65,000 square feet in size, is fitted on a sloping hill with plenty of grass areas for the current bear occupants to enjoy who were transferred from Scandinavia or born in captivity. (Personally, I feel that it’s extremely odd that we ship animals around like property to different zoo’s.)

                                                                  Barenpark is free to visit in Bern. And while the space provided for them now is much much better than the cement hole in the ground they inhabited for hundreds of years, it’s still limiting for what a wild animal should have access to. For example, bears enjoy water and currently the bears at Barenpark can see the water rushing by but have no access to it. Talk about dangling a treat in front of someone face, and preventing them from having it for their own ‘safety’.

                                                                  I suggest visiting as you can see for yourself the conditions they’re in, and may it be a reminder, note for the future or nugget of a lesson for you to better understand the rights that animals should have.

                                                          What are your thoughts on this?

                                                             Not to end on what may feel like a negative tone, let me conclude by saying that Bern has much more to offer than their Barenpark. If you choose to visit this charismatic city (which I highly suggest you do!), be sure to enjoy it in its entirety by visiting and doing the items I listed above. Bern is great for taking it slow, and is one of the few places in Europe that still feels off the beaten path in terms of popular cities to visit in Switzerland.

                                                              [Curious about why there are so many people at the same destination as you? Read about Over Tourism here]

                                                                TIPS for visiting Bern, Switzerland:

                                                                • Switzerland is expensive, so be sure to visit a grocery store for lunch or breakfast (and maybe some wine) to save yourself from racking up your expenses too high
                                                                • Swiss German is the language spoken in Bern
                                                                • Stay in the old town part of the city Bern, once there, everything is walkable
                                                                • Visit Bern, Switzerland in the summer to swim in the River Aare, visit in the winter months for the Christmas markets
                                                                • More general facts about the city of Bern

                                                                  Want to see more?

                                                                  Scroll through these pictures of from our trip to Bern, Switzerland

                                                                    Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

                                                                    Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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                                                                    Fish Consumption in Japan

                                                                    Fish Consumption in Japan

                                                                    Sustainable Travel

                                                                    Last Updated November 12th, 2019

                                                                    A discussion on the fish consumption rates in Japan. How much is too much & can our oceans recover?

                                                                    “I wonder how much seafood Japan consumes?” A question I continually asked myself while visiting Tokyo, Japan in November 2018 (this was also my first visit to Asia).

                                                                    Can the blame of certain fish species population depletions be placed solely on Japan?

                                                                    Do the Japanese over consume seafood?

                                                                    It’s said that one out of every ten fish is consumed in Japan. This rings true as the worldwide view of the Japanese diet is based around its affinity to create incredibly delicious sushi.

                                                                    So with an amazingly popular dish and a unique culture that millions of visitors want to experience each year, why should we care if there may be an overconsumption of seafood in Japan?

                                                                    It’s important to consider that

                                                                    1. Seafood is a top provider of protein for diets around the globe.  As more and more people turn away from the heart health problems of red meats, seafood is seen as a healthy conscious choice.
                                                                    2. The fishing industry provides jobs for millions of people around the world, as in over 200 million jobs. This means that almost 3% of the entire world’s population is affected by the fishing industry.

                                                                     

                                                                            For decades fishing seemed like an endless opportunity in our oceans, yet overconsumption and unregulated fishing practices have pushed many species to the brink of extinction.

                                                                            Most notably affected is the torpedo shaped bluefin tuna, which Japan is the largest consumer of. This specis of tuna is a highly sought after endangered species. Oddly enough, we shake our fingers at poachers of endangered rhino species and sign petitions to end dog meat trades, yet are comfortable ordering a plate of sushi that offers an endangered fish.

                                                                    Please keep in mind, the first two examples are terrible, this statement is merely aiming at opening your perspective in a new way and in no way trying to place negative opinions on those who consumer fish or undervalue the atrocity of other species killings and abuse.

                                                                    So, how much is too much fish consumption for Japan?

                                                                    Japan is one of the dominant importers of seafood.  Japan’s fishing industry is focused on feeding Japan, with 90% of its caught seafood consumed domestically, and importing the remainder from the United States and South America.

                                                                    Due to their high consumption of seafood, they are one of a few countries who look to sustainably source their fish, however it’s an uphill battle. It was only in 2017 that agreements were haphazardly agreed upon to structure the fishing of the most popular fish sold worldwide, the bluefin tuna.

                                                                     

                                                                    The population of tuna has been depleted by about 97% due to overfishing and has become a billion dollar industry.  In fact, each year there is a New Years tuna auction in Tokyo. This year, 2019, the winning bidder won with a record high $3.1 million!  Talk about a supply and demand market that is a perfect example for economics professors to use in their lecture halls.

                                                                      Japan asked for an increase in their annual quotas for bluefin tuna, which was thankfully denied by the Pacific Fisheries committee (thanks to the United States opposition to the request).  Japan has had plans to rebuild the Pacific bluefin stocks, with a target to regain up to 20% of historic levels by 2034.  However their asked for expansion was not approved due to the population levels not improving enough.

                                                                      Their Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries has said that fish consumption is down from 2001’s high of 40.7kg to 24.6kg consumed per person each year.  (Considering part of this could be due to Japan’s younger generation now having access to other options such as beef and poultry.)

                                                                      With the help of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), fisheries now have access to evaluations and strategies to implement more sustainable tactics.  It is clear there is a need to conserve the ocean’s ecosystem and maintain a healthy balance from low lying plankton to large predators, and also preserve the jobs of millions.

                                                                      Greenpeace compares this all to ‘simple housekeeping’ that I feel needs quite a bit of regulation and accountability. Luckily there is the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership who has the T75 goal, where 75 % of all fishing will be done sustainably by the end of 2020 (fisheries must be certified by the MSC).

                                                                                For a typical consumer it feels overwhelming to consider the ramifications of the interests of business owners overpowering the needs of our environment.  You can help make a difference by using your money as your ‘vote’. Here’s how:

                                                                        • Only purchase sustainable seafood from brands who only sell seafood with a certified MSC blue label.  This is currently the most trustworthy and widely known label for sustainable seafood

                                                                         

                                                                        • Support restaurants that are MSC certified; even asking if they provide MSC certified sustainable seafood will help.  Think about it this way- if enough people ask a restaurant if they sell sustainably certified seafood then they will look into, and hopefully, transition to it.

                                                                        The MSC Blue Label

                                                                        Image credit: http://global-impacts-report-2016.msc.org/

                                                                        The question of whether Japan consumes too much fish is a difficult one to properly answer, especially because I don’t believe we fully understand the impacts of the oceans shifting biodiversity.

                                                                        The actions needed to be taken should be based on how we fish around the world, the retail and food services industries seafood choices and higher consumer standards.

                                                                          If you’re planning a trip to Japan, then be sure to check these posts about Japanese culture & my First Timers Guide to Tokyo

                                                                            Citations:

                                                                            IWC “The IWC is the global body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.  The IWC currently has 89 member governments from countries all over the world.

                                                                            The Commission’s role has expanded since its establishment in 1946.  In addition to regulation of whaling, today’s IWC works to address a wide range of conservation issues including bycatch and entanglement, ocean noise, pollution and debris, collision between whales and ships, and sustainable whale watching.”

                                                                             

                                                                            Organizations you can support to help with ocean conservation:

                                                                            -WWF

                                                                            -Greenpeace

                                                                            -Marine Stewardship Council

                                                                            -Sustainable Fishering Partnership

                                                                              Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

                                                                              Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

                                                                              Follow Along!

                                                                              Start your own blog today!

                                                                              Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

                                                                              Get $15 OFF your AirBnb!

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