Sustainable Tips for College Student Trips


During your college years, you might like to think of spring break as a time to let loose and make long-lasting memories with friends! You might even take this time to simply relax and unwind from the stresses of being a student. Regardless of your plans, this is often a time for college students to engage in leisure or travel. 

One of the most common spring break travel destinations for college students is Cancun, Mexico. Cancun was once known as a fisherman's island surrounded by untouched forest and undiscovered shores. The culture of Cancun has since been impacted by tourism and today it is typically associated with being a hot spring break destination. Although the intentions of these travelers are good, sometimes their actions when traveling can show disrespect to the culture and environment toward the place traveled to. It's important to always be mindful of your actions when traveling to reduce these negative impacts.

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These negative impacts can affect the culture, environment, and economy of the places they visit. Changes in travelers' behaviors are crucial during this day and age and there needs to be more efforts to eliminate these negative impacts in the field of tourism. Sustainable tourism can serve as a vehicle to overcome each of these challenges. You could be a responsible and mindful traveler if you incorporate sustainable tourism principles that empowers the locals, conserves and preserves the environment, and serves as an economic catalyst for the local economy.    

The  section below will highlight just a few simple tips about how you can be a more mindful traveler.

Responsible & Meaningful Trips:  
Some things to consider when traveling out of the country and  how to make your trip more sustainable… Don’t be a Tourist, be an Ecotourist!

Research the culture/history of the country you are visiting

Know how to be respectful instead of disrespectful

Not only will this benefit the host culture, but you will get a head start on deciding which cultural/educational/historical tours you may be most interested in enjoying. 

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You will be better equipped to converse with locals and make more friends. Being informed shows that you care, and that care will be reciprocated.

Book all tours/activities with locally-owned companies that use local tour guides, food sources, and utilized sustainable techniques.

This benefits you and the locals. Local guides help you have an authentic, novel, and fun experience that other travelers will miss out on. Your dollar stays in the local economy instead of a foreign corporation.

Furthermore, your patronage shows respect for the local/indigenous cultures by learning directly from them and paying directly to them instead of through a Tour Company/Hotel that is owned by someone from another country. 

Did you know that a single plane ride emits the same amount of carbon emissions as a car does in a year? You need to consider the repercussions of your modes of transportation when traveling. 


Fly coach instead of first class, even if you can afford it.

Fly coach and cut your CO2 emissions by 3 times. Yes, you read it correctly. Flying first class emits 3 times as much CO2 as flying coach. 

Calculate your Carbon Footprint here

Buy carbon off-set:

Donate to conserve wildlife, conserve the environment, or both. You can do this by supporting organizations such as Terrapass

Book airlines that are beginning to use alternate fuel sources such as BioFuels. Southwestern, Alaska, and United Airlines are all making changes with biofuels and/or offering ways to offset the flights.

Choose sustainable transportation within and to your destination

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Use human-powered transportation at your destination. Walking, biking, and maybe even kayaking can get you where you are going and may be the best part of your trip. Need to get further than your own power can take you, hop on a train or rent an electric car. Better yet, utilize public transportation such as the bus or a local taxi driver.

Be aware of how your sunscreens, bug repellants, perfumes, lotions, beauty products affect the environment…plants, animals, ocean, coral reefs, etc.

Stop killing reefs and fish and use mineral based sunscreen instead of ones that use chemicals. It's better for the environment, as well as your personal health as well.

Use reef-friendly sunscreen that does not contain oxybenzone and/or wear a swimming shirt so that you don’t need as much sunscreen. 

Shampoos, conditioners, lotions, soaps, etc. all have harmful chemicals that cause damage to the environment. We should be aware of this even at home, but taking these chemicals into unspoiled jungles and oceans will destroy the natural beauty and animals that live there.            

Bring essential travels items that are re-usable. (i.e. water bottle, silverware, takeaway container) 

You might already have a full suitcase, but these two items go a long way towards conservation while traveling and they may even save you some money! For example, when tourists travel, sometimes, the prices for ordinary things such as water go up. By bringing a water bottle you are saving money and consuming less plastic. Also bring along some form of water filtration system (i.e. iodine pills, UV Ray pen). 

There is an initiative called "Travelers Against Plastic" (TAP) in which the advocates educate travelers on the harmful environmental impacts that can be caused by plastic water bottle usage. Travelers Against Plastic provide several alternatives for travelers to consume water that are environmentally friendly than using plastic water bottles. 

Choose local products while purchasing food, tours, clothing, and/or gifts

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It is best for the local economy/people and the environment if the items you are buying are grown/produced in-country and hand-made by the people who live there.

Go off the beaten path to places where others are not

You could potentially help an economy and you decrease the traffic and crowds in the typical touristy areas.

You will probably have a more authentic experience with the smaller location. 

Give Backyard Tourism a chance…Instead of going to Cancun this spring break, head to Ocean Shores or Neah Bay during the months of June through August to catch some sun, surf and sand and save money and the impact on the environment in the process.

If you prefer to still be at luxury hotels, look up eco-resorts that provide the same service amenities that chain hotels do except with a sustainable twist.

Look for resorts that are approved by TIES (The International Ecotourism Society) or that have Ecotourism Certifications such as Green Globe 21 or ISO. 


Look into Woofer positions or volunteerism if really on a budget.

If you are on a tight budget, but still want to travel abroad there are programs that are less expensive by providing you with food and housing for up to two weeks for exchange of work.  One example of this is the Concordia Eco-Tents in the Virgin Islands. 

Remember to unplug your electronics and appliances back home before you leave?

Unplugging electronics and appliance before you leave for an extended amount of time, will save you lots of energy and money.      

If you take these tips into consideration, you will work toward becoming a more mindful and thoughtful traveler. Now go out and see the world from the lens of an ecotourist. You'll find your travel endeavors to be much more enriching and fulfilling. 


Hollenhorst, S. J., Houge-Mackenzie, S., Ostergren, D. M. (2014). The trouble with tourism. Tourism Recreation Research, 39(3), 305-319, doi:10.1080/02508281.2014.11087003.               

Macro Adventures

Photo by Breaktide Media

Photo by Breaktide Media

So, how much do you love your life? Do you wake up brimming with eager excitement? Does your work leave you feeling respected, creative, and inspired? If so, good for you! Go back to the micro adventures page and be a sustainable micro traveler on your weekends and time off!  

But for those of you who are looking for something a bit grander, some high-adventure, next level, “ish”…. Please, read on….

Macro Adventures


Macro adventures are for people looking for a change in flow of life. The most important thing you need for an adventure like this is the will to do it. Once you have that, you have to find the time and resources to travel epically and sustainably.


Macro adventures are where the comforts of normal life end while the thrill of danger and uncertainty reveals a world of deep adventure. However, they require a serious degree of time commitment. Typically anywhere from a couple of weeks to more than a decade! It’s all up to you and how big you want to go.


Below are lists of incredible sustainable macro adventures that people have taken. They all use limited air travel, go a long distance and are gone for a long time. These links are listed to spark inspiration within the hearts and souls of the people with a love for the sustainability of earth and a big sense of adventure.




What is a Macro Adventure?

Akin to micro adventures, the central current under the idea of macro adventures spawns from sustainable travel. A Macro adventure is an adventure that involves a long distance travelled in an environmentally conscious way (typically without air travel).

Why Macro adventures?

The importance of macro adventures is huge. It is known that carbon emitting transportation such as long haul air travel (flights 6-12 hours) contribute heavily to climate change. But the thing is, there will always be allo-centrics (people who love the thrill of travel) who will never stop moving around the world. The Macro adventure framework provides the outlet for people who want to see the corners of the world but want to do it in an environmentally conscious way.

When to embark on a Macro Adventure?

The thing about the macro adventures highlighted below is that they take time. Anything from a couple weeks to more than a decade can be counted as a macro adventure. With busy and demanding work schedules, a macro adventure isn’t always a possibility. But there are some very notable times for people who have an idea to go out and do it. These times in life will be different for everyone. A good example might be the loss or quitting of a job, or a sabbatical.


Long distance travel began on foot, camel back, and horseback at the inception of humanity. Now let’s check it out the ways in which people across history and up to now have embarked on epic Macro-adventures….


Inspirational People



Jason Lewis took 14 years to travel around the world using only human powered means. This means no sailing, driving or combustion powered transportation were used. He set a world record and is still on the road. Check out his blog at and his complete story from BBC, an outside source here:


Paul Salopek has been a traveling journalist his whole career and has just embarked upon a journey to retrace the path of human migration across the continents. Walking and writing stories from Ethiopia to the southern tip of South America. Check out his story as told from BBC here:

Check out his website documenting his movements and inspirations here:


Maria Leijerstam is an unbelievable woman. She was the first person to ever cycle to the south pole and now she wants to cycle across the Atlantic ocean. How? Read her story at BBC:

Or check out her blog here:


Levison Wood is a British wildlife photographer and Photojournalist that walked 4000 miles besides the Nile river.


Gregg Bleakney, a Seattleite rides bicycle from Alaska to Argentina….


Possible Itineraries


  • Itineraries for Biking in the USA, Canada, and Mexico

  • National Geographic ideas for the best road trips in the states – Bring a couple friends!!

  • Cross Country Road trip in a Tesla



This is National Geographic’s link to their 100 Greatest Adventure books ever written. Although some of them include flying, I think you get the point that they were all on a macro scale:


    This is Men’s Journal’s list of the 50 Best adventure books. Not all of them are true but once again, the idea is that they are on a grand scale:


    This is a list of some the top 50 Fictional adventure books. Of course none of these are true stories but once again they expose the would be traveler to the imaginations, inspirations and creativities to be had while travelling:


    This is outside magazines top 25 books for the well-read explorer, have a gander…


    This is a list of the top 50 Non-fiction Adventure books according to a website called “the art of manliness”…


A caveat, great sacrifice:

This is the side of long distance travel that people don’t like to talk about, but it is the most important because it gives you a rounded view of your journey.

Leaving home to travel great distances to distant lands in a slow but sustainable way necessarily includes sacrifices of many kinds. Before embarking on any of the below journeys, all of our fellow travelers had to think about how their decision to leave home affected their family, friends and community. Even with the social connectivity of our modern world, you are still physically separating yourself from your loved ones and essentially putting your life at home on hold.

But it is also a sacrifice of a way of life. Being on the road is a much different experience of life than getting into a rhythm at home.  You have to sacrifice comfort, alter your view of time, and adjust to a new way of being. The way of being a traveler.  So if you feel the call, know where there is a will, there is a way. Here were some examples of people who found the way. May they help you to find yours.

A Relaxing Afternoon Close to Home

Boulevard Park


This is a great trip last minute trip to enjoy the quick sun break without having to travel too far from home. The South Bay trail can be accessed in the north side of town at Railroad Ave. and Maple St. and for the south side at 10th St. and Mill Ave. This trail is dog friendly and has amazing views of Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands. Boulevard Park is a great stopping point on the trail to check out the view, get a coffee, or play fun activities in the large grassy area. If anyone wants to explore Bellingham, then they should definitely check out this trail and park! It is a very popular destination for the locals. Also, by going to Wood’s Coffee you would be supporting a local Bellingham company, which is always a plus! This is an excellent MicroAdventure that can be done all throughout the year, no matter the season.


Visit the City of Bellingham's Parks and Rec website for more information:

Boulevard Park

Holiday Magic in Leavenworth

Holiday Magic in Leavenworth

Imagine yourself hopping in the car and at the end of a short, scenic drive lies a wintertime retreat out of a storybook. Leavenworth, Washington boasts comfort, warmth, and unique opportunities to get lost in the magic of the holidays, all wrapped up in Bavarian charm. Slow down for a little while and revel in the simplicity and charm of Leavenworth in December.

Adventures At Lake Chelan

Adventures At Lake Chelan

A trip that offers a wide variety of activities for the adventurer! Spend the day boating on Lake Chelan, go hiking in the Beebe Springs Wildlife Area, bike up to Pot Mountain and enjoy the view (bring your own bike or rent one). Spend the nights camping at Lake Chelan State Park and Windy Point Campground. Lots of restaurants in the area too if you want to eat out instead of cooking.

Bike the San Juan Islands

               Bike the San Juan Islands

Love bike riding? Hate paying for gas? Then ride your bike from Bellingham to the San Juan Islands, taking the ferry from Anacortes through the San Juan Islands. Stops include Orcas Island where you can ride up Mt. Constitution and Lopez Island where you can enjoy a view of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Camp at Moran State Park and Spencer Spit State Park.

Vancouver, BC: For the Relaxed Adventurer

Vancouver, BC: For the Relaxed Adventurer

From whale watching to full-service spas, Vancouver, BC has all your relaxation needs covered. The Pan Pacific Vancouver hotel is the perfect place to stay, as it is located in the heart of Vancouver overlooking Stanley Park and Vancouver Harbor. Walk around the park or take a guided horse-drawn carriage tour, go on a whale watching tour, stroll through Little Italy, spend the evening at the Edgewater Casino. 

Bike and Kayak Vancouver Island

Bike and Kayak Vancouver Island

Ever wanted to go on an overnight mountain biking trip? Here’s a three-day trip on Vancouver Island. You'll start in Nanaimo Bay and bike towards Lake Cowichan, where you’ll spend the night at Gordon Bay Provincial Park or stay in Honeymoon Bay in a cute little cottage. The second day, you can kayak around Lake Cowichan or go bowling, curling, or ice skating. This trip is beautiful and the views are amazing. 

Frolic Through the Tulips in Skagit County

Frolic Through the Tulips in Skagit County

Take a trip to the Tulip Festival in Skagit County, which runs April 1-30. Walk through the fields of flowers and explore the beautiful scenery and towns. While at the festival you can take a tour of the gardens and interact with local artists and gardeners. There are also many restaurants where you can enjoy lunch. Also, visit the gift shops, galleries and antique stores in Mount Vernon, La Conner and other small towns.