Travelling leaves a mark on the world; there’s no way around it. If you’re going to a city nearby, or adventuring to the other side of the world, you will always leave a trail in your wake, whether it looks like carbon emissions or plastic drinking bottles. It’s up to you to control how big your trail will be. Reducing your footprint when travelling is easier said than done, but it is 100% achievable.
Eco-travel is not only about your impact on the environment, but also the communities you visit and influence. Being mindful of how your adventures affect the societies you touch, as well as the earth you love, can make your travels more mindful and enjoyable.
Make your next trip one to remember by planning the perfect eco-getaway. Here’s how:
Where will you stay?
When you’re choosing a place to stay, consider skipping the large corporate hotels. Instead, opt to invest in the local economy by using Airbnb or staying at a local B&B that you can trust (ie: look for reviews). If you would rather have it all planned out for you, look for a travel agency with a commitment to ethical tourism like G Adventures.
Wherever you end up, be mindful of your habits in your temporary home. Just because it’s not your water and electricity, doesn’t mean you can abuse it. Turn off lights when you leave a room, monitor your water consumption, and use your towels multiple times before sending them to the wash.
TAMGA's contributing author Kate enjoying an eco getaway in the Lia Kimono.
What will you bring?
Packing light, borrowing, and buying second-hand are sure ways to start your getaway in an eco-friendly fashion. If you need gear you don’t have, consider borrowing from a family or friends, buying from a second-hand store or browsing your local used items online platform. Wherever you go, don’t forget your ‘zero-waste toolkit’!
TAMGA's contributing author Kate travelling with items from her zero waste toolkit, wearing the Annisa Dress.
What will you eat?
Staying at accommodation with kitchen facilities is a great way to reduce your costs and impact. Buy your own vegetables at the store or local farmers market, and avoid sending packaging and takeaway boxes to landfill. Reducing your meat intake for the length of your journey or beyond is also a great way to neutralise your carbon footprint.
Just because you’re on holiday, doesn’t mean you have an excuse to throw away all your eco-habits. Ask your hosts, hotel, or locals where to recycle and compost. If they don’t have a facility at your accommodation, ask them to direct you to the local recycling plant and composting facilities. You will be surprised to find that they aren’t usually too far away!
Bring canvas bags to sort your trash, and don’t be afraid to ask. They’ll be blown away that you care for their environment. If all else fails, and you’re not too far away, bring your waste back home with you.
What will you do?
Considering locals, the environment, and your consumption are key to an eco-getaway wherever you venture.
1. Support the locals: Choose a tour company that is locally operated. If you have time, volunteer at the local soup kitchen, or join in on a tree planting day to give back to the community you stay in.
2. Avoid disturbing wildlife or vegetation: Don’t stray off the beaten track and disturb preserved habitats. Be mindful of where you tread.
3. Refuse wildlife tourism: Hugging a monkey in Thailand may be fun for you, but ponder how the monkey feels being kept in a cage and hugged by humans all day. Appreciate wildlife from afar.
4. Shop consciously, or not at all: Whether it be souvenirs for the family or a new dress for the road, be thoughtful about your purchases, and choose locally and fair trade made where possible.
Being a responsible traveller doesn’t mean missing The Eiffel Tower because you’re busy finding the local recycling plant! Use these tips as helpful ways to be aware of your travelling footprint, and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t stick to them all. Simply being mindful of your actions wherever you go and whatever you do is the most positive impact you’ll ever have.
Go forth, eco travellers, and get adventuring!