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.

Research your destinations and projects before you go.
Research your destinations and projects before you go.

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.

Discuss a logical destination to meet up... Perhaps Cape Town?
Discuss a logical destination to meet up… Perhaps Cape Town?

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.

10. Unplug

Unplug your home before you head off – save energy and ensure your savings go towards your dream trip, not wasteful bills.

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Your thoughts on "Ten ways to be eco-friendly before you travel"

  • One modification I'd make to #8 is... fly as little as possible to start with. If your destination is under 500 miles away, there is a good chance that ground transport won't be that bad of a deal -- and you are doing a good part to save the environment right there. Good post. Keep up the good eco-work.

    on April 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm Reply
    • Thanks Michael... That's a really good point, and one we definitely bear in mind too.

      on May 4, 2013 at 6:46 am Reply
  • I think you should vote with your money as well. Choose a dive shop that does beach cleanup or campaigns for the ocean or stay at a hotel that has solar panels instead of generators. I also agree with Michael, although it is so hard to do since air travel is just so easy sometimes.

    on April 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm Reply
    • Good call: although it can be hard to see through the green-washing, choosing businesses that are address those issues and preferably those that are locally owned, makes a big difference.

      on May 4, 2013 at 6:47 am Reply
  • aloha, what great ideas to be more in tune with your travels and eco and culturally aware, thanks for sharing these great ideas. noel

    on April 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm Reply

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