Ways to travel responsibly in San Francisco

marin headlands golden gate bridge view

San Francisco is known for its dedication to protecting the planet by keeping things green. That means almost everywhere you go you’ll find ways to do right by Mother Earth, whether it’s as simple as separating your garbage or eating at a restaurant that uses locally sourced ingredients. Besides choosing to stay at HI hostels in San Francisco, which all try to do their part when it comes to encouraging conscious travel, you can get into the city’s spirit of sustainability with these quick tips that go beyond recycling. 

Rent a bike (not a car) 

San Francisco is extremely bike friendly (especially when you know how to avoid the extra hilly streets), and seeing the city from the seat of a bicycle is by far a better option than sightseeing from a car. Walking and taking public transportation also give you green points. 

Carry around a reusable water bottle 

Reduce the use of unnecessary packaging by carrying around your own water bottle and filling it up at the hostel before you go out exploring for the day. Many eateries in the city will also allow you to top it up for no extra charge. 

greens restaurant fort mason san francisco 

Give vegetarian a go 

San Francisco might be one of the few cities where it’s actually easy to forgo meat in favor for an all-vegetable diet. From the iconic, like Greens in Fort Mason near HI SF Fisherman’s Wharf, to the hole-in-the-wall spots in HI SF City Center’s Tenderloin neighborhood, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to good-for-the-earth eating. 

Travel light 

Besides being motivated to travel light because of airlines charging extra for lots of luggage, it’s a good idea to try and keep your bag packed with just the essentials so you don’t carry unnecessary weight on the road. When you travel light, you’re also less likely to have lots of things to get rid of when you inevitably need more room in your pack. 

Try to support local where you can 

Supporting local businesses is a great way to get an authentic experience and it also contributes to sustainable tourism. How? By going local, you’re helping that community thrive so travelers can experience the true essence of a place and not get a cookie-cutter experience. In San Francisco, many local businesses also have eco-friendly practices, so it’s a win-win. 

hi usa hostels in san francisco

Make the most of your hostel resources 

When you hostel, you’re already doing your part because you’re sharing space with other travelers and therefore reducing the amount of energy, like electricity and water, needed to keep things running. Cooking your own meals is a good way to save and avoid food packaged with plastic and Styrofoam, and when in doubt, you can ask the front desk folk for their recommendations on local spots that do good and keep green. 


HI USA tip: While you’re at it, read up on why hostelling with HI USA makes for a better travel experience all ‘round.