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Leave no trace: A guide to sustainable travel

Ever since I was a child, I had a strange concern. It always worried me when I watched my friends throw plastic candy wrappers on the streets. With absolutely no idea about what it achieved, I would put them in my pocket to take home and throw.

I would never speak up about it then, because I wasn’t completely sure about why I was being paranoid. Plus, I didn’t want to be perceived as ‘uncool’ or ‘whiny’.

But now, in 2017, the damage that our species has caused to our planet is very real and very visible.

Sure travel does wonders for your perception. But if you’re someone who, like me, thinks that ‘carbon footprint’ is an important term, if disappearing ice and rising temperatures bother you, but you also love adventure travel, there are a few things you could try, to contribute your bit- EVERY STEP COUNTS!

Follow these simple tips for sustainable travel, so you can have all the fun and show the planet some love!


#1- Bring reusable stuff




Quit buying plastic water bottles and carry your own reusable water bottle or flask. Most outdoor venues have public water filters.

If you know you’re going to be visiting a place that won’t have any such facilities, such as a long trek, fill up your bottle at the hotel or any place before the trail.

Same goes for shopping bags or ones for carrying smaller items. Use plastics only to keep your items waterproof.

For everything else, bring along an eco-friendly reusable bag.




#2- Choose travel sizes carefully


You don’t have to choose the tiniest sachets of shampoo.They’re “Oh so cute!!” But they generate a lot of waste. Reducing your waste by choosing larger packs is textbook stuff.

You probably can’t take along really large bottles. But instead of buying 10 sachets for 2 bucks each, compromise and take maybe 4 slightly bottles?

Or if possible, see if you could buy an even larger quantity locally at the place you’re staying.


#3- Local transport


Yes, we’ve been repetitive in saying this. But whenever you get the opportunity, take the bus or the local transport at the place you’re visiting. Less carbon emission and more fun!

Need I mention these are also great photo-ops for Instagrammers?

If renting a car, use the smallest vehicle possible, according to the size of your group. Walking short distances is a great way to explore.

Also, when getting to the place itself, try to choose a direct flight if one is available; stopovers consume the most fuel.


#4-Green stays

sustainable travel

A lot of staying facilities are going ‘green’ by harnessing solar power for everyday needs and using other such measures. Find out about these and ask them questions about their recycling policies.

If you’re a single traveller, make an effort to ditch the large room with the double bed. Go for the smaller rooms or if you’re feeling sociable- dorms, shared rooms or cozy homestays!

You could even completely lose the hotel plans and stay in tents or with friends who live there.


#5- The usual rules apply


While you’re at a hotel or home stay, behave like you would at home.

Be judicious in saving resources- shorter showers and controlled air conditioning.

Turn off electrical appliances whenever you leave the room. Reuse towels and bed sheets for at least a couple of days instead of getting them washed every single day.


#6- No Pools


Those ‘infinity pools’ right beside the beach pools sure do look great. But the wastage they cause, in terms of energy and water, does not! Are private pools just for you worth all that?

Choose a hotel without a pool so you’re not tempted, ‘just because it’s there’.

If you’re a water baby, going to the beach and taking a dip in the beautiful ocean is way better. It also allows you to try out exciting water sports!


#7- Respect wildlife


If your travel plans involve observing the local wildlife there, step 1 is to obviously choose sanctuaries in natural settings over zoos. Zoos are no fun- for the animals or the visitors.

Also, BIG SURPRISE- avoid parks where they allow visitors to take pictures with ‘friendly’ tigers or wild animals. These animals are most probably drugged.

When on a safari, read and stick to the rules carefully. On a nature trail or a trek, cause as little disturbance as possible.

While camping, do not leave or dispose of food out in the open. This attracts wild animals and could cause an unnecessary conflict with humans.


#8- Eat (and drink) local


When you insist on eating only the food that you’re used to eating back home, you’re encouraging the import of foods from a different place. This adds to fuel consumption for the unnecessary transport of food.

Be adventurous!

Try out local organically prepared delicacies.

Ditch your favourite Hoegaarden and experiment with some locally brewed beer.

You might be in for a surprise.


#9- Take back only memories


Be careful while buying souvenirs- make sure you trace their source. Animal parts, corals, local flora, etc are a HUGE NO!

To be on the safer side, avoid them entirely and click loads of photographs. They make for much better memories.


#10- Bag up the waste

sustainable travel

All your leftover food, beer cans, your pet’s poop and anything you don’t ‘treasure’ goes in one giant-sized waste disposal bag- separated according to dry and wet (obviously!).

Imagine you’re being watched by environmentalists even when you’re in an isolated area- and behave accordingly.

You wouldn’t like anybody else entering and littering your house or city, right?

So do take good care of other’s homes as well.

If you enjoyed these, we bet you’ll like to flip through these:

How to save money for your adventures

Top 10 travel gadgets

Tips for solo adventurers

All set to explore?


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