SustainAbroad Tips

A sustainable lifestyle deepens an abroad adventure because it encourages experiences to connect and thrive with the people, economy, and environment of your host community.


  • Respect the culture- Be open and respect cultural differences. Be aware of taboos. Meet Locals. Ask questions. 
    • Time-know that the concept of time could be different.
    • Language-learn key phrases in your host country's language before you go. Be gracious when you talk to others.
    • Be light-hearted- you will be confused sometimes, but don't get angry. Try to laugh instead.
    • Dress appropriately- be aware of local dress codes, especially for sacred places, etc.
    • Ask before you take pictures-it is taboo to take photos of people in certain cultures. Simply ask.
  • Be safe- Be aware of the safety concerns in your host country. Travel with others when possible.
  • Educate yourself-Research your country! Look into the history, politics, current events, etc. Ask questions about issues that are impacting your host country (water pollution, worker exploitation, etc.).
  • Gifts- Be cautious giving money to begging children. You don't know how the money is being spent, so donate to a responsible charity with your interests instead.
  • Fill out comment cards- Encourage hostels, tour companies, etc. to become more sustainable by leaving a concrete suggestion on their comment cards. If you notice their operations could buy more local food or conserve energy recommend it.
  • Volunteer Abroad- Enhance your resume, fine tune your language skills, and give some of your time to help the community where you stay. 


  • Go local- The best way to experience the local culture is to eat local food, stay in local accommodations, and use local goods. Not only does this enhance your experience, but it supports the economy of your host country. Avoid stores or fast food places that you can experience at home.
  • Bargain fairly- A few dollars could be more valuable in your merchant's pocket than yours.
  • Sustainable operations- Stay at accommodations and go on tours that are sustainably accredited. Ask what that company does to be sustainable!


  • Reduce, reuse, recycle- This is a tried and true practice for sustainable living everywhere. Pack light to reduce energy required to move your luggage!
  • Respect restrictions- Buy camping permits and follow the signage requests; do not walk on the ecological preserve. Respect the wildlife. Do not litter. Leave natural artifacts, such as seashells, plants, etc.
  • Consider transportation- First walk or bike, then try reliable public transportation such as buses or trains. If you must drive an automobile use a car and fill all the seats. Try to fly less as airplane travel is emission intensive.
  • Be water & waste conscious- The average walking distance to water in parts of Asia and Africa is 3 miles; be mindful of your water use. Carry a reusable water bottle if clean water is accessible. Some places do not have a sophisticated waste removal programs. Try to simply reduce the items you need to toss. If recycling is available, use it!
  • Be mindful about electricity use-Turn off lights,electronics, and appliances when they are not in use.

Resources: Sustainable International Travel, Ethical Traveler, Go Abroad, Yale: Tips for Sustainable Travel Abroad