The Best Carry On Essentials

The Best Carry On Essentials

The Best Carry On Essentials

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!


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 Spray

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.


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


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!


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 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.


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


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 pillow- 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


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!

Hi! I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. 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

Fish Consumption in Japan

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:

      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


          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:



          -Marine Stewardship Council

          -Sustainable Fishering Partnership

            Hi! I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. 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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            23 Ways to Help Prevent Overtourism

            23 Ways to Help Prevent Overtourism

            23 Ways to Help Prevent Overtourism

            Welcome to the second part of Blue Eyed Compass’s Over Tourism series discussing what you can do to prevent over tourism! The previous post discussed what over tourism is, and its cause and effect on residents, visitors and the place itself. It can be easier to discuss what the issue is, yet awareness is only half of the battle. It’s important to know ways that you can enjoy your well deserved travels while also creating a positive impact on the tourism industry.

            Here are ways that our governments and ourselves can help to prevent over tourism from creating a worse situation:

            Ways that governments can help prevent over tourism

            (1) Accurately tally & report tourism numbers based on type of visitors; for example cruise ship attendees, resort guests, backpackers, etc. Having accurate numbers will help determine what future actions need to be implemented

            (2) Edit the ‘perception gap’ of destination management

            Geez, I’m proud of myself for using ‘big’ words (haha), perception gap in terms of over tourism means the gap of governments concern for the quality of their destinations → over their desire for more revenue from the industry

            Governments often think about where the money comes from in tourism, like developers, infrastructure, agencies, etc. instead of remembering that the ultimate tourism product is the actual place itself which ties into the next point: Tweaking their outlook from more tourism is better, to better tourism is better could be very helpful.

            (3) Use holistic management models.

            Implement regulations that effectively impact the environment, economic, social and cultural issues. After doing some research, it’s noticeable that irresponsible business practices lead to benefits that are too selective, which then doesn’t motivate anyone to protect things, which creates difficult obstacles for those who do wish to protect places based on legal, political and/or financial problems

            Examples of destinations tourism goals:

            San Diego: San Diego put into place a 20+ year plan in 2017 called ‘Experience San Diego Destination 2040’. Their plan is to raise $1.3 billion in its first five years based on an increase in hotels tax rates.

            Is this plan good? YES! Because the funding goes back into the city to repair roads, work on infrastructure, etc


            Peru: Promperu, the agency of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism Specialized Technical Agency, predicted a 43% growth of inbound tourism in 2016

            China: in 2015, the Chinese people took 100 million outbound trips, and are predicted to take 160 million outbound trips in 2020. This makes China the world’s largest outbound tourism market


            I had difficulty finding specifics for many locations on ways that this tourism would benefit the destinations and/or the residents there (if you are able to find any distinct details please share! I would love to know more)

            (4) Governments can include the residents & caretakers of the place in their conversations

            The locals see the impacts on a place first hand and understand best how to support it. Bridging the gap between these two is vital for the elimination of over tourism.

            (5) Improve visitor management by regulating tourism

            Examples of this are already being done in these places:

            • Gorilla tracking in Uganda, Africa; visitors are required to pay for an expensive permit to do so, which limits the number of people going into the forest to see gorillas
            • Havasupai Falls in Arizona, USA requires hikers and campers to obtain a limited number of permits.
            • Japan is enforcing new regulations on AirBnbs once the 2020 Olympics are over so they can ensure certain requirements are met, and therefore limit the number of vacation rentals
            • Iceland AirBnbs are now limited to being in use for only 90 days per year
            • The Azores have a limited number of hotel rooms available & are working towards becoming certified as a ‘sustainable tourism region’

            (6) Raise prices (cautiously)

            • Bhutan’s solution to maintaining their culture is to require visitors to pay $200-$250/day just to be in the country & requires you to book your trip through a government accredited travel agency
            • It’s imperative to raise prices cautiously because if prices increase too much and only the very wealthy can afford them, then the culture, history & nature of a place can become the private property of the wealthy & they’ll be the only ones concerned with protecting it
            • *Consider this tactic this way: Apple iPhones are expensive, but those who really want it will pay for it, I believe the same could be possible for high tourism cities

            (7) Disperse visitors & spread their visitation over time by coordinating with a nearby city to spread economic benefits

            The Alhambra & Grenada, Spain currently do this by having timed tickets for the palace, so that visitors can spend time enjoying the city

            (8) Limit the number of visitors to a place

            (9) Have timed ticket admission

            (10) Favor longer stays over day trippers

            (11) Ban tour buses OR design a certain number of routes that run on a lottery of directions to prevent bottlenecking traffic

            (12) Channel people into spaces that are designed to be trafficked (this could be great for outdoor spaces)

            Ways that WE can help prevent over tourism

            (13) Visit unique places that are off the beaten path

            While major destinations may be overrun, remember there is beauty & diversity at the ‘under the radar’ places. The world is stil a big place filled with natural wonders. Here are a few places I would suggest:

            • Norway
            • The Azores
            • Kennet Canals, England
            • South Wales, Australia
            • Slovenia, Ljubliana
            • Sierra Gorda, Mexico

            (14) Go outside of the major cities

            There are less people there & those small towns may very well welcome you with open arms, plus you’ll have a more realistic experience on what daily life looks like there

            (15) Travel during the ‘off’ season, aka ‘shoulder season’

            • Doing so will allow you to avoid inflated prices, long queues & herding crowds
            • I would suggest aiming to visit right before or after peak season

            (16) Be respectful & check your entitlement

            Yes, this may mean changing your attitude, however having a little respect to the people & place goes a long way for those who are living in a famous destination and are frustrated with tourists impolite & self entitled attitudes. And if you see this behavior in your fellow travelers, speak up. Often times we may not notice when we need to check out entitlement at the door

            (17) Open your eyes

            Instead of going on a vacation to turn away from the stresses of your life at home, and then also looking away while traveling, open your eyes to what you are seeing & be present. Take note of what people are doing, is it respectful? Ask yourself, “Can I do better?”

            Think about it this way, if you were being paid to stay in a nice resort, eating for free & having concierges look after your every need, you would most likely spread wonderful words about it to everyone you meet

            The idea behind this tactic is simple marketing, and it’s of course fine. However, as a reader & possibly as a traveler, make your own conclusion about a place & try not to base your travels on the word of those being paid to say good things

            This could lead to becoming an ethical travel writer – so many travelers are PAID to write about a destination by the same place that they are visiting, so their perspective can be skewed.

            (18) Avoid geo-tagging and adding your location to social media in fragile environments

            As much we want to share the hidden beauty of a place, oftentimes it’s become that beautiful because of the lack of human interaction. Leave a little mystery to your audience.

            (19) Come prepared

            • Ask yourself why you want to visit a destination – is it because you want to truly experience the place, or are you looking to take a great picture that you saw some Instagrammers shoot pictures at?
            • Prevent the creation of further waste – find responsible local restaurants ahead of time, bring your own reusable water bottle & cloth bags for shopping, and even pick up trash you see on the ground if you can. With large crowds come lots of trash, so limit how much waste you create.

            Leave No Trace! is a set of principles for those venturing outdoors. You can see their list of principles here.

            (20) Worry less about that perfect picture

            Many travelers will ignore roped off areas or boundaries to be able to capture themselves in a perfect picture. However, those boundaries are these for you protection & for the environments Imagine if all 2 million tourists visiting Iceland every year walked over the roped off areas of their fragile land (which has been happening much more frequently), the reasons everyone began visiting Iceland – for its beautiful nature -will become mud pits from everyone’s shoes.

            (21) Focus on Quality over Quantity

            This is behavioral and based on what you, as a traveler, prefer – is it true travel experiences or snap & run selfie stick vacations? Is it better to save yourself money on a cheap fast food dinner, or spend more on a fine dining experience?

            (22) Local local local

            • Eat local produce
            • Stay at a local guest house or a hotel with eco-friendly missions & recycling programs

            (23) Share with others their environmental impact while traveling

            Many aren’t aware of the issues at hand and the fragility of the destinations they visit. I only stopped using single use plastic last year, and the friends I’ve seen pay to pet baby tigers only now know it’s horrible after I’ve told them how the animals are treated. Sharing your experience & know how can help to create a larger community, and you never know what you can learn from others.

            (24) Continue traveling!

            This list of tips is meant to broaden your knowledge & provide insight into the travelers world. Of course you should continue to travel, but now you are prepared to do so responsibly, so travel & enjoy!

            We all should rethink how we develop tourism and how we travel. We cannot possibly fit an infinite number of people into finite spaces. And while there is no sole solution, there isn’t a sole cause either. The more the tourism industry refines itself for each destination, the more people will feel comfortable coming to visit. And just like we shouldn’t consume mass produced processed foods, we shouldn’t be mindlessly travelers. So, what do you think? Do you think over tourism is even an issue? If so, do you have any additional tips or tricks to help protect the world?

            Interested in learning more about Overtourism?

            Here are a few resources for you to explore!

            *Be sure to read about what Overtourism is HERE

            *Overbooked by Elizabeth Becker

            *Crowded Out

            *EarthCheck – A group that created scientific benchmarking for destinations to follow in order to be considered sustainable. This link has tons of different topics & resources to dive into

            *Sustainable Destinations Top 100 list, 2018

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            What is Overtourism

            What is Overtourism

            What is Overtourism

            Last Updated November 12th, 2019

            If you love to travel and you love the planet, put those two together and you’d get sustainable travel. Alright, this isn’t the best or exact definition of the phrase, but an easy to understand the perspective of it.

            My love and respect for both traveling and planet Earth led me down the rabbit hole of research, observation, discussion and acknowledgment of sustainable travel, and one topic that I’ve witnessed more and more personally, which is overtourism.

            Overtourism is a relatively new ‘buzzword’ that was first coined in 2012, yet only highlighted in the media in 2017 when protests in Barcelona began against tourists.

            Definition of Overtourism :

            Overtourism describes a destination negatively by both locals and visitors as having too many tourists. Locals want the tourists to get out of their way, tourists feel like the places are too crowded, and caretakers spend much of their time performing crowd control and wear & tear control duties. Essentially, the quality of life and the quality of the experience has deteriorated.

            There has been a serious loss in authenticity within popular destinations. Yet, we are all apart of the problem. Think of it in terms of car traffic. We complain about the traffic while we’re driving a car, just like we complain about too long of lines at popular landmarks while we’re waiting in the line. It almost feels like there is no escape from overtourism, and genuine locals are becoming a new endangered species

            Tourism is a service industry that sells a product of which it does NOT own. The physical place is the product. In most cases, tourism is considered a ‘pastime’ as opposed to an industry- when in fact, it IS an industry, and one that has gone unnoticed as it’s grown so quickly.

            This global phenomenon of over-tourism is happening all over the world, even in places that you wouldn’t expect. The cost of travel is continually decreasing, and the number of international departures from any given airport increases each year. The tourism industry grows no matter the global issues going on. Effectively creating a destructive force on high-profile and in-demand destinations.

            Yet, saying a place has an overtourism problem isn’t a specific label, as the phrase’ too many’ is a subjective term. It’s easier to understand when you look at the causes and effects of over-tourism.

            What causes Overtourism?

            Why is overtourism happening?

            As I mentioned before, tourism is an industry, and like most other sales-driven industries, its success is based around its growth. And it seems that overtourism is a result of success for tourism boards.

            Many Americans began traveling after World War 2 ended with a significant increase beginning in the 1970s and 1980s. Meaning the travel industry we know today has been around for just about 50 years, a measly few decades of uncontrolled growth. Worldwide we’ve gone from about 30 million travelers each year, to over 1.3 billion travelers every year. And while it’s incredibly exciting to know that so many more people are able to experience the beauty of our planet, it feels as if the tourism industry has gone unchecked during its growth.

            Think of it compared to our technology advances.

            I grew up with dial-up internet on a bulky computer, then after college, I moved out of my parent’s house with a small, swiftly functioning smartphone. The travel industry has quickly transformed from an unknown perspective to one with multifaceted options, with little control over travelers behaviors.

            What are the Drivers of Overtourism:

            • Population growth — in 2009 there was about 6.8 billion people in the world, five years ago it was 7.3 billion & currently we are at 7.7 billion people across the globe.
            • Rising affluence of the middle class –> there are more people who are able to spend part of their income on travel
            • Lack of an ability to track & report accurate data: government’s report their overall tourist numbers which lump together cruise ships, duty-free shoppers, resort guests, backpackers, etc
            • Technological advances –>
              • mass air travel has taken off like a racehorse
              • the internet is accessible in more places
              • and the cruise industry has ships larger than many of the cities they port at, with their 8,000 visitors spilling onto the streets of aodrable places, only to have them all flock back for dinner

            *fun fact- cruise ships are allowed to burn cheap, bad for the environment fuels which is one of the reasons cruise ships can be cheap

            Effects of Overtourism:

            A lack of accurate reporting leads to misconceptions and disillusionment of how severe an issue of over tourism may be to a destination. The effects of over tourism reflect on residents, tourists and the destination itself. Here are a few of the effects on all three:

            Alienated LOCAL Residents:

            • Irreparable damage to infrastructure, natural areas & cultural monuments
            • Harsh resident resentment due to excess traffic, too large of crowds in inconvenient places
            • Inflated real estate & rent prices: this is partly due to businesses like AirBnb (who is often pinpointed as a scapegoat for this issue). This happens because apartments are suddenly for vacation rentals instead of rent, and a lack of living spaces creates a new supply & demand issue
              • A decreased supply of living spaces → higher demand to find a place to live = which means owners can charge tenants higher rent
            • A shift of relevant retail stores to souvenir shops, along with other neighborhood setups catered to tourists, as opposed to those residing there
            • Many jobs are low paying and seasonal, with much of the revenue going back to large, wealthy corporations out of the destination

            Tourists & they’re mitigated experiences:

            • Very crowded destinations
            • A low value for their money spent
            • No sense of authenticity in a destination, which leads to fewer stories to take home to share

            Overloaded Destinations:

            • On the bright side, tourism in some places has brought wealth to lesser-known or forgotten rural communities
            • Tourism has helped restore crumbling historic infrastructures
            • Negatively, there is an increase of garbage at these popular landmarks
            • With an increase of visitors, a destination is often unable to enforce respect & regulations for the place

            These causes & effects all bring about concerns with overtourism. Not only are major destinations losing their unique identity – which is the main reason for so many visiting – there is also a lack of control over the situation. Tourism managements are either nonexistent or are ill equipped to handle the influx of visitors in a way that still produces revenue for the country. And the ‘sweet spot’ number of ‘happy to have’ visitors versus too many people does not exist, and would be unique to each destination. The term ‘carrying capacity’ is used to describe this, and needs to be thought of in terms of physical carrying capacity and social carrying capacity.

            PHYSICAL — how many people can infrastructures & landmarks contain?

            SOCIAL — how many visitors can residents & other tourists tolerate before having a negative experience?

            No matter how you spin it, there is an overall loss of identity that these over visited places are experiencing. Here are a few examples of over tourism from fellow travel writers, bloggers & photographers:

            Overtourism Example & How Rome is trying to fix it

            Hi! I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. 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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            Examples of Overtourism:

            Where is Overtourism occurring?

            You’ll hear and read about overtourism being a continuous problem in many countries. Most recognized is Barcelona Spain, Venice Italy, Amsterdam Netherlands, Japan, Croatia, and Bali Indonesia.

            Below are examples of Overtourism witnessed around the world from fellow travel bloggers :

            Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

            “The whole park had a little boardwalk that you had to follow to see the waterfalls. It was PACKED”

            From Nicole, @ourwildestlife

            Tram 28, Lisbon, Portugal

            “The other day, I saw a queue of (I counted) more than 200 people lining up for Lisbon’s Tram 28.

            Tram 28 is one of Lisbon’s most scenic tram routes, and the journey is recommended in countless guidebooks and on travel blogs. Unfortunately, it’s not actually a sightseeing bus: it’s home people in neighbourhoods like Graça get to the city centre.

            A queue of 200 people not only means that locals can’t use this tram, but it’s also not going to be a particularly fun experience for tourists either.”

            From James, blogger at, check out his post on tourist alternatives, like walking the route this tram takes!

            From James, blogger at, check out his post on tourist alternatives, like walking the route this tram takes!

            Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito, Ecuador

            “This photo was taken during a trip to the Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito. Prior to entering, the security guard made it very clear that we weren’t to deface any of the stonework or climb on the structure. Although the Basílica was constructed in sections, parts of it are very old and undergo frequent maintenance work. Upon reaching the top of the tower, we were greeted with this sight. Clearly the memo hadn’t reached everyone.”

            From Sheree, blogger behind Winging the World

            Machu Picchu, Peru

            “We went to Machu Picchu at sunrise, when there were relatively few people. After a tour with a guide, we hiked up to the Sungate. When we got back to the main site, we could barely get around due to the amount of people. The cleared areas you see in the photos are because you can only walk on specific paths around the historic site. I wanted to stay longer at Machu Picchu because it’s incredible, but it was just too uncomfortable with the crowds. Now, I don’t really recommend going to Machu Picchu unless you can arrive at sunrise and have a moment alone with the site.”

            From Hanna, blogger behind Moderately Adventurous

            Angkor Wat, Cambodia

            “This past summer I traveled to the famous Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise. Turns out that it was quite a popular destination with hundreds of people lined up along the water’s edge.”

            From Chelsey, the blogger behind The Ninja Gypsy

            Nyaung Lat Phat Kan, Myanmar

            “…on Christmas Day 2018 (when these photographs were taken) the crowds were out in Bagan. At sunset, the Nyaung Lat Phat Kan hill viewpoint was seriously overcrowded as hundreds of tourists competed to take that perfect sunset photo. Our sunset pictures may look serene but that was far from the reality. Our two small children were towered over by the crowds who pushed past them.

            Much of the overcrowding at the viewpoints is because nearly all the temples in Bagan that tourists were once allowed to climb are now closed for safety reasons. This is putting a lot of pressure on the few designated viewing places.”

            From Kirsty, the blogger behind World for a Girl

            Resort in Kusadashi, Turkey

            “This is a resort in Turkey that is filled with European tourists. We spent only about an hour on this beach before leaving as it was such an unpleasant experience! I had to move at least half a dozen cigarette butts just to clear enough space for my beach towel! ”

            From Hayley, the blogger behind Life as a Butterfly

            The Taj Mahal

            “We recently visited the Taj Mahal. From distance you can see the impacts of overturisim. The white marble is tainted by the smog and the fog makes the view a little blurry. The lines to enter starts at 6am. Although tourist seems to believe that if they get there early it will be empty, the reality is complete opposite. Inside, crowds gather on the same spot to get the same picture everyone will be posting on instagram. The expectation surrounding the Taj Mahal comes to pieces once you see the real location without filters; magnificent, but far from what you think it would be like. However, It is an impressive view with or without photo editing.”

            From Laura, the blogger behind Three Decades Ago

            The Grand Canyon

            “The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, with over six million visitors annually. Most visitors don’t stray far from the the South Rim Visitor’s Center. But the Grand Canyon is nearly 300 miles long! A few minutes walk/drive away from the crowds, visitors can have plenty of space for themselves.”

            From John, the blogger behind The Hangry Backpacker

            Venice, Italy

            “Activists in Venice have formed “No Grandi Navi,” a group which fights against large cruise ships in the Venetian lagoon. These massive vessels contribute to issues related to overtourism in Venice for three main reasons. The first is that many people who arrive by cruise ship are day-trippers that don’t contribute to the local economy by staying in hotels and dining there. The other is the significant movement in the water caused by the cruise boats, which damages Venice’s underlying wooden structure. The final reason is the pollution that the ships bring, which harms the lagoon’s ecosystem. In 2017, a referendum to divert large cruise ships out of the lagoon and into the docks in a nearby town passed with overwhelming support, but some are skeptical about the length of time and logistics needed to make this happen. No Grandi Navi keeps up their fight in order to protect the future of their beloved city.”

            From Molly, the blogger behind Luggage and Life

            That Wanaka Tree, New Zealand

            “Nestled in the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, a curved, spindly tree breaks the still waters of Lake Wanaka. Its branches spread out like fingers, its unique shape instantly recognisable. The landscape is striking yet serene. At least, that’s the expectation and the impression that most photographs of That Wanaka Tree give. In reality, head to the lake shore at either sunrise or sunset and you’ll be met by a coach-load of tourists all fighting for the perfect spot from which to take their image of New Zealand’s most photographed tree”

            From Joss, the blogger behind Little Green Globetrotter

            The Mona Lisa, inside of The Louvre, Paris France

            “Not wanting to be jostled and pushed by fellow tourists I spent less than a minute in her presence. So if you want some peace and quiet to appreciate the Mona Lisa, don’t go to Paris in high season or visit the Louvre on the weekend.”

            From Katie, the blogger behind Just Chasing Sunsets

            The Narrows, Zion National Park

            “This is at The Narrows – one of the most popular hikes in the park (this taken early too – only 10:00 AM!)”

            From Stephania, the blogger behind Travanie Travels

            Sunset Beach in Koh Lipe, Thailand

            “It’s hard to believe that just 30 years ago there wasn’t a single resort or tourist on this 2.5km by 3.5km isle. Whilst it hasn’t suffered extreme overtourism like Koh Phi Phi has, you can start to see strains on this tiny island. The first time I visited Koh Lipe was a year ago at Christmas, which was when this picture was taken. I was surprised when I revisited a month ago in February (1 year later) to find double the number of visitors.”

            From Sherri, the blogger behind Travel Mermaid

            Want to learn how you can help prevent Overtourism?

            23 Ways to Help Prevent Overtourism

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            Things to know before traveling to Belize

            Things to know before traveling to Belize

            Things to know before traveling to Belize

            Belize felt like an ‘off the beaten path’ place, where we could truly escape the hustle of our lives and embrace the pleasantly slow lifestyle of the Caribbean. The country has a unique blend of crystal clear waters, top snorkel and scuba locations, Mayan ruins, tropical jungles and incredible wildlife. If you’re considering a visit to Belize, here is a list of 12 facts and tips you should know before you go.

            [already in the planning stages of your trip? Feel free to jump to Top things to do in San Pedro”]

            Included in this post:

            • TOP things you need to know before traveling to Belize
            • The best areas to visit when traveling in Belize
            • Our favorite hotels (recommended by multiple Belizean locals)
            • Items you will definitely want to pack on your trip to Belize

            With so much to explore, here are

            13 things you need to know before traveling to Belize

            1. English is the main language spoken. Even though the country is hugged by Mexico and Guatamala, english is the official language of Belize. Many people in Belize are tri-lingual, also speaking Spanish & Creole. Belize is the only English speaking country in Central America.

            2. Belize used to be known as the British Honduras. They only gained their independence in 1981.

            3. You can use US Dollars almost anywhere. However, your change may be a mix of Belizean and US dollars. In my experience, Belizeans preferred us to use US dollars, so be sure to bring cash with you. *There are ATMs throughout most major areas, so don’t worry about bringing a lot of cash.

            4. For a small country (only 70 miles across), it’s incredibly diverse. We were told by locals that there are at least four different cultures within the country: Creole, Mestizos, Mayan & Garifuna.

            5. Regardless of background, Belizeans are known for their welcoming smiles.

            6. The Belizean government has done an outstanding job preserving its natural habitat. From marine preserves to animal welfare, this country truly cares about its long term impact on the environment.

            7. Rice and beans simmered in coconut milk are a staple item, so vegetarians can be happy visitors here.

            8. Most areas of Belize are safe for visitors, and getting around is fairly easy as their highways are all well-paved. Belize City is where the majority of their crime occurs, and is due to drug trafficking and gang violence. Keep in mind, that the tropical areas you’ll be visiting are not in Belize City, so you won’t have to worry about this.

            9. Coffee and chocolate in Belize are immaculate. Be sure to buy lots of both to bring home with you.

            10. Or better yet, move down to Belize as an expat. There are plenty of tax breaks (so I’m told) and happy expats currently down there.

            11. Belize is home to many rare animal species; tapirs, jaguars, manatees and hundreds of unique birds.

            12. Archaeologists discover new findings every year of Mayan sites! In fact, the country is full of beautiful Mayan ruins.

            13. Belize has some of THE most incredible snorkel and scuba diving sites in the world! It’s home to the second largest barrier reef, after Australia’s, and the country prides itself on it’s determination to keep their oceans clean and safe.

            What are the BEST places to visit in Belize?

            Here are the most beautiful places in Belize that any traveler should be sure to visit while vacationing in this central american country:


            Tropical Places to see

            San Pedro Island

            Caye Caulker

            Hol Chan Marine Reserve

            the Great Blue Hole

            Ambergris Caye


            Silk Cayes National Park


            Belize Barrier Reef

            Punta Gorda


            Jungle & Mayan Ruins to see

            Altun Ha Ruins

            Xunantunich Ruins

            Caracol Ruins

            Sleeping Giant Resort

            Mayan Caves

            the Belize Zoo

            Where should you stay in Belize?

            Don't Forget to Pack:

            click image to find out more!

            Belize is quickly becoming a top central american destination for tourists, and with a multitude of activities and sights to explore it’s easy to understand why.

            If you have any questions about planning a trip to Belize comment below and I’d be happy to help!

            If you’re planning a trip to Belize, check out my other blog posts on the most beautiful places to visit & the best things to do in Belize

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