These days the majority of wanderers are greened up to the hilt and willing to give back all over the globe. And that popular maxim, “leave no trace” kind of implies that we should consider the whys and wherefores once we’ve hit down in our destination. But if our intention is to maximise our eco-friendliness out on the road, we should begin before our flights are booked, and certainly well before we leave. So readers, prepare to be de-greened, as my top ten tips start right back at the research and planning stage…
1. Do your research
Where are you planning to give back? Read up on the company you’re booking with or the projects you’re going to be visiting, and check out their responsible tourism policy. Balance any information with independent sources such as forum members and Twitter travellers.
2. Buy the right backpack
Your backpack will be your life-long friend throughout the course of many journeys, but if you’re truly green it should be a recycled model. Hemp, organic and even solar paneled ones are on offer, but if the budget won’t stretch to a new-fangled backpack, head down to your local charity store to pick out a pre-loved bargain.
3. Pack selflessly
More often than not we’re thinking of what “we” need when we’re fine-tuning that list of travel “must haves”. However, consider the needs of the projects you might be visiting and think about what you could take with you that could help — perhaps some small items that are difficult to come by in your destination. Once you’re on the ground, make sure anything you bring ends up in the hands of a specific contact.
4. Pack light
Minimise what you really need by packing multi-purpose outfits – zip-off combat trousers that can also be worn as shorts or a sarong that triples as a blouse or dress. And remember lighter loads mean less fuel consumption.
5. Choose simple gadgets
Wind up torches might sound a bit old hat, but sometimes it’s the small things we do that count towards the bigger picture.
6. Talk about it
Sign up for regular Twitter travel events, for example #TTOT (Travel Talk on Tuesday) and #Africhat and exchange ideas.
7. Choose the right meeting spot
If you’re meeting other adventurers who you’ve come into contact with online (a popular travel trend), consider everyone and choose the destination which would incur the least mileage.
8. Offset your flights
Yes, you’ve got to get on a plane, but there are plenty of companies out there that can help you to offset your omissions. Greenpop will plant a tree and hand you its GPS co-ordinates; or try alternative energy certificates, your journey helping to pay for the production of renewable energy.
9. Study up
Learn a little of the lingo before you go – even the basics can open up an interesting dialogue.
Unplug your home before you head off – save energy and ensure your savings go towards your dream trip, not wasteful bills.