Our world is full of wonders, and as travel becomes more affordable, we’re jumping on planes, trains, bikes, and boats to discover them.
Whether we’re spotting kiwi in New Zealand, swimming with dolphins in Hawaii, or hiking in Peru, we have a responsibility to ensure our enjoyment doesn’t come with the cost of environmental damage.
Welcome, to your guide to eco travel.
Travelling ‘eco’ doesn’t mean you must only sleep in a tent, use solar powered camp stoves, and eat what you forage. Although these are good ideas, the fact is, there is a whole world out there, and you’re going to want to investigate.
Eco travel stems from the idea that there are ways to travel that respect the planet, but also ways to travel that wreck it. Approaching your travel plans and decisions in a selfless way that considers the environment you will be exploring, is the crux of eco travel. It involves forethought and planning, rather than jumping on a plane and taking off. To travel ‘eco’, you need the right tools, mindset, and dedicated research.
An eco-traveller’s suitcase doesn’t stray far from your average adventurer’s. The difference is a few additional items which replace disposables and reduce waste consumption.
Your eco-travelling tool kit might look like this:
On top of preparing these extra items, make sure you are prepared for the road ahead. Create a clear list of the items you need. This means you don’t spend money on double ups when you are there. Every item takes resources to create; this has a toll on the planet. Pack light to reduce your carbon emissions (the heavier the plane, car, or boat, the more fuel it needs to move), and prepare well in advance to save money and resources.
It’s easy to begin an eco-adventure with the best intentions at heart. Yet, without the right mindset going into it, these intentions will be walked all over as the adrenaline and travel rush creeps up on you when you’re in the moment. An eco-mind-set reflects the small things. Avoiding paper towels and opting for the awkward hand drying dance (refusing paper towels), saying no to a free coffee because it’s in a takeaway cup, or asking for no straw in your cocktail whilst dancing in Greece, all require a mind-set shift.
An environmentally-friendly trip has a greater chance of success, if you set these small eco-habits into motion before you leave. Implementing eco practices into your life regardless of travel, will make it second nature for you out on the road.
Knowing your destination and doing your research can save you time, but also save the planet. Investigate eco-tour guides, avoid animal tourism, and choose activities that bring you enjoyment in memories, like hiking, rather than objects, like shopping.
Stay at local bed and breakfasts, or grab an Air BnB with a review you trust. These smaller accommodation choices make it easier for you to explain you don’t want your sheets washed every day, or you won’t be needing their tiny plastic bottles of shampoo. Supporting local restaurants who offer organic or locally grown alternatives, is another great way to encourage local farming, boycott corporate chains, and lower the carbon emissions of your food- yes, that is a thing!