Sustainable Travel Tips | Kids at Table with Packed Snacks

The Road Less Traveled: Tips for a Sustainable Journey

By Dr. Manasa Mantravadi



Time to Read: 8 min

Remember that summer when your family decided to take an epic road trip? You know, the one where the minivan became a temporary home for snacks and crumbs, sing-alongs at the top of our lungs, and a never-ending game of "I Spy"? 

This year, why not plan a trip that’s a little kinder to the planet?

Sustainable travel with kids is totally doable, and way more exciting than it sounds. Ditch the overflowing suitcases and disposable everything and embark on a journey filled with eco-friendly tips that are as fun for the little ones as they are kind to our planet.  So buckle up and get ready to trade the beaten path for a sustainable adventure.

About Ahimsa

Founded by a pediatrician and mom of three

Stainless steel is the only kid-friendly material recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics 

We are guided by a Scientific Advisory Council comprised of environmental and medical experts, guiding us in creating the safest products, following the latest science and promoting policy to protect human health and our planet

Want to know more? Check out our story and our products

Gassing Up for Green Getaways: Travel Hacks for the Eco-Conscious Family

Alright, destination chosen—time to figure out how to get there in a way that minimizes our carbon footprint. Let's face it: Those long-haul flights might get us to our destination fast, but according to a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation, they also leave a significant carbon footprint. 

First things first, consider the distance. Can we reach our dream location by train, bus, or even a fun family road trip?  Think epic singalongs, goofy roadside attractions, and pit stops at national parks – all while leaving a smaller carbon footprint.  Research shows that "slow travel," focusing on extended stays in one location, allows for deeper cultural immersion and creates a more meaningful connection with the destination. 

If flying is unavoidable, there are ways to offset those emissions by supporting reputable carbon offsetting programs. You can plant trees or support renewable energy projects. Be sure to look for programs that are certified by organizations like the Gold Standard to make sure your contribution goes towards verified projects with real environmental benefits.

Once you've arrived at your vacation destination, embrace the local vibe. Ditch the rental car and explore by foot, bike, or hop on the public transportation system.  Not only is it a fantastic way to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a new place, but it's also a win for reducing air pollution and traffic congestion.  

Eco-Friendly Essentials for Sustainable Travels

Packing for a family trip can feel like a never-ending game of Tetris. Between the mountains of clothes (because, let's be real, outfit changes are inevitable) and the overflowing toy chest necessities, it's easy for sustainability to fly out the window. But there is a way to pack light with eco-friendly must-haves that will add to the adventure.

First things first, ditch the disposables and invest in reusable water bottles for everyone (bonus points for stainless steel or glass). The same goes for flimsy plastic bags. Pack reusable totes or drawstring backpacks for souvenirs and beach essentials.  

Packing light is key – not only will it save your sanity on laundry day, but it also reduces the weight you're hauling (which means a smaller carbon footprint). Think versatile clothing that mixes and matches, and don't forget quick-drying fabrics for those inevitable poolside splashes.

Instead of those plastic sporks destined for the landfill, pack a reusable cutlery set that's lightweight, durable, and good for the planet.  Also, skip the disposable wipes and opt for reusable washcloths – perfect for sticky fingers and messy adventures.

And for those late-night reading sessions on the plane, train, or in the car, find disposable headlamps that are solar powered or rechargeable so you’re not going through batteries.

Mealtime Essentials

Finding Sustainable Accommodations for Your Green Crew

When you're booking a place to stay, forget the cookie-cutter resorts and crowded tourist traps. Instead, look for unique accommodations that emphasize sustainability. Imagine the excitement of staying in a treehouse lodge or yurt. Sustainable travel isn't just about how you get there. It's about where you lay your head at night.

So, ditch the traditional hotel search and explore the world of ecotourism lodges and eco-resorts. These hidden gems are often family-run businesses that prioritize environmental responsibility and cultural preservation. Think locally-sourced materials, energy-efficient practices, and a deep respect for the surrounding environment.  

Many even offer incredible on-site activities like nature walks, wildlife observation, or hands-on workshops that connect your little ones with the local ecosystem.

Sustainable travel goes beyond fancy certifications. Consider supporting local homestays or guesthouses that immerse you in the local culture. Many of these include meals, activities, and other amenities that are more than just a swimming pool, as you would find at a traditional hotel or resort, but one that emphasizes nature and the local community and culture. 

Sustainable accommodations aren't just good for the planet; they're a recipe for fostering a sense of global citizenship and sparking wanderlust in your little adventurers.

Sustainable Travel Tips | Snacks in Ahimsa Dishware

Eco-Activities & Adventures for the Curious Crew

Alright, we've picked our destination and booked our accommodations. Now comes the fun part: planning activities that are as exciting for the family as they are kind to the environment. Forget crowded amusement parks and souvenir shops overflowing with plastic trinkets. Instead, look for experiences that ignite a love for nature and spark curiosity about the world around us. 

Sustainable travel is all about immersing yourselves in the local culture and exploring the natural wonders of your chosen location.

Many destinations offer incredible activities that are both educational and thrilling for the whole family.  Think guided hikes through ancient ruins, snorkeling trips teeming with colorful fish, or learning about sustainable farming practices from local communities. 

For instance, a good friend told me about her recent trip to Corolla Beach in North Carolina, where she took her children to see the wild horses unique to that area. It was a beautiful sight to see these wild, untamed horses roaming freely, and it also allowed her family to learn about the preservation of land and animals.

These experiences are all about immersing your little ones in the wonders of the natural world and fostering a sense of responsibility for protecting it.

So, skip the overpriced trinkets and invest in experiences your family will cherish forever.  Imagine the look on your child's face after releasing a sea turtle hatchling back into the ocean, or the sights they'll see hiking through a National Park or nature reserve.

Sustainable travel experiences aren't just good for the planet, they're a recipe for sparking lifelong passions and creating stories that will be shared for years to come.

The Final Boarding Call for Your Eco-Adventure

Sustainable travel is an adventure waiting to happen. Imagine the thrill of exploring hidden waterfalls, the joy of helping a baby sea turtle find its way to the ocean, or the satisfaction of knowing your family vacation left a positive footprint on the planet.

It's all about making small changes while you travel that add up to a big difference. The world is waiting to be explored, and now you have the tools to do so responsibly. Let's go see what incredible things await.

Shop Ahimsa today for plates and more.

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician whose dedication to children’s health drove her to launch Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dishes for kids. She was motivated by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings on harmful chemicals in plastic affecting children's well-being. Ahimsa has gained widespread recognition and been featured in media outlets such as Parents Magazine, the Today Show, The Oprah Magazine, and more.

Dr. Mantravadi received the esteemed “Physician Mentor of the Year” award at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2019. She was also named a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur in 2021, with her inspiring story showcased on Good Morning America. She serves on the Council for Environmental Health and Climate Change and the Council for School Health at The American Academy of Pediatrics. She represents Ahimsa as a U.S. industry stakeholder on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Global Plastics Treaty, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Dr. Mantravadi leads Ahimsa's social impact program, The Conscious Cafeteria Project, to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard student health as part of a national pilot of the Clinton Global Initiative.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering people to make healthier, more environmentally friendly choices at mealtime. Her mission remains to advocate for the health of all children and the one planet we will leave behind for them through real policy change within our food system.

More Mealtime Essentials

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use stainless steel instead of plastic? Is stainless steel better for health?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report in July 2018 suggesting ways that families can limit exposure to certain chemicals at mealtime, including “the use of alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.” The report explained that “…some additives are put directly in foods, while “indirect” additives may include chemicals from plastic, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard”. Further, “Children are more sensitive to chemical exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to body weight, than adults do, and are still growing and developing.” While stainless steel items meet the recommendation to avoid plastic products in children, Ahimsa® products have the obvious advantage of not breaking like glass.

Is stainless steel better for the environment than plastic?

According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel can be recycled over and over and over again without losing its integrity and requires less energy to recycle than to make anew. Most plastic unfortunately ends up in landfills and it is estimated to take 700 years to decompose. Our special coloring process that allows Ahimsa® products to be fully metal is environmentally friendly, so it does not produce toxic run-off into the ecosystem.

Will Ahimsa products break or peel?

No. Our steel is durable, so it won’t break or shatter with everyday use, like glass. And it won’t peel, like other colored stainless steel products you’ve seen. We use a special process that allows the colors to naturally occur in the metal.

Which Ahimsa products are best for my little one(s)?

Our products are meant to last, you can use Ahimsa at ages 1, 8 and 18! We thoughtfully design our products to be safe for little ones and our planet while reducing consumption. Once your child outgrows the Starting Solids Set  and can use regular cups and utensils, the training cup is the perfect size rinse cup in the bathroom, the infant spoon doubles as a tea stirrer and the bowl is great for snacks or as an additional compartment to our modular divided plate. Our plates are great for any age as they encourage choosing a variety of healthy foods at each meal and help visualize portion sizes easily. It’s the lasting beauty of stainless steel - grows with your child and reduces waste.

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