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What is sustainability?


There is much more to sustainability than separating your waste and taking public transport—there's a whole science behind being sustainable (or going 'green'). Let's start with the 3 Pillars of Sustainability to discover what each pillar means on your journey to becoming a more responsible traveller.


Do your part for the environment


The environmental part of sustainability is all about how your travels have an impact on the environment. Climate change is a big part of this one. It's a 'hot topic' nowadays (no pun, just the truth...), so there's a lot of information out there on how you can help fight it.


Travelling by train is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel. So, if you buy yourself an Interrail Pass, you're already well on your way to travelling more sustainably! Besides transport, you would need a place to sleep. Opt for 'eco-accommodation', available in all shapes and sizes, or stay with the locals (through couchsurfing for example) or locally owned accommodation.  


Help us redefine what it means to travel responsibly. Remember that every act of kindness towards the planet and its inhabitants will cause a positive ripple effect for generations to come. 


What can you do to help?

  • Take your trash with you and try to separate it when throwing it in the bin.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle instead of buying single-use water bottles (research if you can drink from the tap!).
  • Say no to plastic (bags, straws, cups, etc.) and bring a reusable version so you don't need the plastic.
  • Bring a reusable food box with you and bring leftovers with you. Add some reusable cutlery to your bag as well.
  • Use reef-friendly sunscreen (and other natural beauty products). 
  • Take short showers and let your hair dry naturally. 
  • Think twice before booking activities that drain natural resources or put a strain on wildlife or the environment. 

Support the locals


Technically, a sustainable economy means that companies are making a profit. In reality, it doesn't really work this way, because in a lot of cases the money travellers spend doesn't flow back into the local economy. Instead, it disappears to other countries...


So, shop locally when you travel! Buy your souvenir from a local artist or a cute boutique: you support a local and, even better, it's a much more unique memento than all the cookie-cutter keychains you'll find in all souvenir shops. The same applies to accommodation: try to book a room in a bed and breakfast or hostel run by locals, instead of a big hotel or resort chain. This all helps the local economy.


What more can you do to help local economies?

  • Use a local guide to help sustain jobs if you want to discover beautiful nature.
  • Shop at local (farmers') markets and eat at locally owned restaurants to put in place a mechanism that ensures everyone gets a fair share. 
  • Once you arrive in a new city, hire a bike from one of the local vendors. 
  • Donate your loose change to local charities. 
  • Tread right and go off the beaten path: boost economies that are not touched by tourism (bonus: a more authentic travel experience!)

Help wherever you can


The social aspect of travel is a complex one because it touches a lot of different topics. What it comes down to is being respectful and supportive (especially, but definitely not only, in developing countries) of the culture and the people of the country you're travelling to.


A lot of things that might be perfectly normal for you, could be very strange for the locals, and the other way around. Expect the unexpected and embrace it. The unexpected encounters are probably the best part of travelling.


What more can you do to support the local culture?

  • Support local social projects
  • Help local aid organisations by bringing them goods that they could use or need (get in contact with them before you travel!)
  • Shop responsible brands (where workers get paid a normal wage, work normal hours, materials used are sustainable etc. This might require some research.)
  • When you connect with people in new cultures, honour them in the spirit of diversity and inclusion. 
  • Source locally made items whenever possible and pay a fair price - especially for handmade goods. 

Check out our Magazine

For more tips and tricks on travelling responsibly (and all other things travel related), check out our online Magazine.

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Discover Europe in a responsible way with our Interrail Passes. We can help you find the perfect Pass for your trip.