Tips to tread lightly

Photo: Felix Gillies
Ideas and inspiration to lessen your impact when travelling.

Jet setting around the world certainly packs a carbon punch, but to see the far corners of the world and bask in its wonder might also spark a desire to preserve, and illuminate problems and solutions in other countries. Perhaps you’ve seen the option to ‘offset’ your carbon when booking a flight by purchasing carbon credits. The trouble with carbon credits is where do they go? Are they truly effective? It’s a question that sparks fierce debate on either side of the table. When I have the opportunity to travel there are a few key things that I apply, no matter where I am:

  • Bring a water bottle with an attached carbon filter so that you can eliminate buying disposable water bottles by the dozen. You can also purchase reusable future-esque UV ‘pens’ that you activate and toss in your water bottle, instantly killing bacteria and impurities.
  • Make your hotel room bed so the sheets aren’t unnecessarily changed each day, and hang your towels for the same reason.
  • Use public transportation: travel by train or bus whenever possible. You’ll save the hassle of reading foreign maps and deciphering the mystery of global road signage and arrive at your destination refreshed and raring to go.
  • Source out local food! I am always delighted by the local palate and love experiencing the culture accessed only through food.

But why not take travelling eco a little further than a series of quick tips? Push the envelope a little bit and plan an experiential trip, where relishing and interacting with your surroundings is the inspiration! If you participate in vacations where preservation and respect is the idea behind your respite, you help the eco-tourism industry grow and prosper thus having an impact beyond your two weeks of bliss. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Go camping! Pack a tent and grab your paddle, the wilderness beckons. There are stunning natural vistas near and far that are waiting to be explored, and your mode of transportation, whether by canoe or on foot, is wonderfully carbon neutral. Be sure to respect where you visit, however, and live by the ‘leave no trace’ rulebook. If planning such a trip isn’t for you, there are many guide companies around the world who will take the guesswork out of it for you, even preparing and feeding you gourmet meals each night that you never thought possible over a campfire.
  • Get extreme. I’ve always wanted to learn to rock climb. Perhaps you have an interest in kayaking. Whatever your fancy may be, if you have an appetite for adventure check out the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)—they provide an opportunity to learn an outdoor skill and test your own limits in a safe and engaging environment. You can enlist in such incredible opportunities as mountaineering and horse-packing and it’s sure to be an experience you will never forget. Because NOLS (and other groups like it) regard nature as their fun park, a healthy respect for preserving the environment is second nature to them.
  • WWOOF! Short for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, this is a form of eco-tourism that’s gaining some international attention. The idea is that you trade service and labour for accommodation and food, learning some invaluable skills about sustainable organic stewardship of food, animals and land. It’s an opportunity to live the simple life for a week or just a weekend, learning principles you can apply to daily life back home, no matter where you live. The WWOOF concept began in the UK in 1971 and has spread to 100+ countries around the world.

Happy Travels!


Article IMAGE by Felix Gillies.