Leave No Trace: My Fave Responsible Travel Tips

I originally wrote this post on responsible travel for Earth Day, but it’s really important year-round. I’ve decided to update the post to put the message back out there.

In light of it being Earth Day, I thought I’d share some of my favourite tips for being a bit more Earth-conscious while travelling. This list is not exhaustive and isn’t a full list of Responsible Travel tips – but below are some good pointers for helping to reduce the impact as you explore the Earth.

Reduce emissions: go overland – or by foot.

Travelling by public transport where possible helps to reduce your carbon emissions. When you’re looking at a tour provider or itinerary, see if you can find options that use local trains or buses. It’s also an amazing way to see more of a country and to interact with the locals – whether it be a great train journey like the Vodkatrain across Siberia, or something super modern like purchasing a JR Pass in Japan.

When you’re exploring a city, why not walk? Getting lost on foot is half the fun sometimes. Many cities, particularly in Europe, are made for exploring by bicycle… while places like Hanoi in Vietnam have traditional cyclos to get around in.

Think before you purchase.

There are so many reasons why you should head to the markets and buy souvenirs for everyone you know back home… Not only do you make all your loved ones happy, but you’ll support local traders too. But you can go deeper than that. Check that the products you buy are made by local artisans and ask about the materials used to make them. Are they sustainable? (It pays to do a bit of research on this kind of thing before you go). And of course, steer well clear of anything made from endangered animal products (such as the horns/tusks of rhinos or elephants), or shells or coral from reefs.

Often, particularly in markets in Asia, you’ll be given a lot of unnecessary plastic bags. It’s okay to say no to these – they contribute to so many waste issues and you’re just going to take your goodies straight out of them anyway.

Say no to bottled water and other plastic.

Many parts of the world have undrinkable water supplies, so hotels and tour providers are constantly handing out bottled water to tourists. Obviously, it’s a safety concern (read here if you want to know why you shouldn’t drink the water!) but there are ways around it that don’t involve “disposable” plastic bottles. Research options for filtered reusable bottles and stay in places that have filtered water where possible. For example, every villa I’ve stayed at in Bali has a water filtration system, as do many hotels across the region.

Also, rather than use mini toiletries, use refillable travel minis in your toiletries bag.

Avoid packaging and other waste

There are other ways to avoid packaging on the road, especially when it comes to food. Go for fresh options and say no to plastic and bring your own reusable bags. For example, you might head to a bakery in Paris: no need for a plastic bag for your fresh bread. A paper one is fine or just pop it in your bag: you’ll be eating it straight away! Shopping locally rather than in supermarkets will help reduce packaging.

Love your coffee? Always pack a keep-cup and say a big fat no to disposable coffee cups. And do you really need a straw? If yes, bring a reusable metal one with you.

Ladies: consider environmentally friendly sanitary options, like washable pads, menstrual underwear, or menstrual cups. Think of how much waste would get removed just by making that one change!

Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace has seven principles of outdoor ethics: read them here. Essentially, Leave No Trace is pretty self-explanatory: it’s about ensuring the environment is left the way you found it (or healthier). Leave No Trace takes into account how fragile ecosystems can be and provides concrete guidelines for exploring the Earth in a way that reduces impact.

So Happy Earth Day everyone! Now, go forth and spread the word!

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Leave No Trace | Responsible Travel Tips | Sustainable Travel #travel #travelblog

38 Comments

  • Sara
    Posted April 26, 2018

    Love this post and such an important read as we should also travel responsibly. Your blog has made me so excited for my move to Australia and to start blogging about it!

    • Amelia
      Posted April 26, 2018

      Thanks Sara! How exciting that you’re moving down here! When are you coming? Where will you live? I hope you’ll love it!

  • Juliet Ly
    Posted April 26, 2018

    These are great tips for traveling. I never thought about my carbon footprint when traveling before. Thanks for the post!

    • Amelia
      Posted April 26, 2018

      Thanks Juliet! There’s so much to think about. I’ll be following up with another post about travelling responsibly soon x

  • Eena
    Posted April 26, 2018

    Loved this post so much, Amelia! I think it’s so important to be mindful and to take good care of our Mother Earth since she’s the only one we have. These tips are fantastic by the way – especially using reusable items such as water bottles, bags and even straws! Thanks for this 🙂

    cabin twenty-four

    • Amelia
      Posted April 26, 2018

      Thanks so much Eena! So glad you took something away from it x

  • Marian Beaman
    Posted April 27, 2018

    Your tips are great. I wish my bottled water container was glass not plastic, but I reuse it for weeks at a time. Does that count, Amelia?!?

    • Amelia
      Posted April 27, 2018

      Thanks Marian! I do the same too when I need to buy bottled water ? apparently it’s no good for you but I just haaaate wasting them

  • Fancy
    Posted April 27, 2018

    Ireland is making a big move towards lessening package waste now- hoping to see big changes over the next few years

    • Amelia
      Posted April 27, 2018

      That’s awesome! We’re making a few changes down here state by state, but it’s slow going

  • Shailaja
    Posted April 28, 2018

    Lovely actionable tips. I particularly agree with the saying No to plastic. Carrying your own water and using refillable pouches and bottles are so much better.

    • Amelia
      Posted April 28, 2018

      Thanks so much Shailaja!

  • Jill
    Posted April 28, 2018

    What a fabulous post. You have made me think and next time I travel I’ll take on board as many of these as I can. I do like to walk and also get around by bus or train when I am away from home.

    • Amelia
      Posted April 28, 2018

      Thanks Jill! So glad to hear it’s making people think x

  • Gary Jefferies
    Posted April 28, 2018

    Solid post Amelia. I’m really into this awareness campaign. I see too many people ignorant of the environmental impact of day to day life. I could ramble on this for ages! Litter is my current bugbear. As fast as it’s cleaned up, people throw it back. Do we blame corporates or people? I am a believer it’s people. If we don’t buy something en mass they will soon stop making it.

    The message to take control ourselves and be responsible for our actions is paramount in my humble opinion. Without that we are in grave trouble.

    Good post!

    • Amelia
      Posted April 28, 2018

      So true Gary! I was at Costco today and tried some delightful cookies, only to have it sold to me as “and they’re individually packaged which is great for lunchboxes!” I recoiled pretty hard… we’re trying to teach our kids about sustainability and so is their school so prepackaged food is out!

      But it’s all about education isn’t it? If you’re not taught to think differently about it, and the conversation doesn’t come up in your day to day life, how do you know any different?

  • Ritu
    Posted April 28, 2018

    So many great, and truly useable tips here Amelia! and not just for use when travelling either!

    • Amelia
      Posted April 28, 2018

      Thanks so much Ritu!

  • Suz
    Posted April 28, 2018

    There were significant rumbles at the Commonwealth Summit regarding getting rid of specific plastic items in our lives, various countries have chosen which ones to eliminate slowly. More money needs to be thrown at the cause. With more big businesses needing to make changes in how they package their products.

    • Amelia
      Posted April 28, 2018

      That’s right Suz! I know Ireland and now Australia have passed some legislation, so cool. But it’s only a start

  • Sonia Boal
    Posted April 28, 2018

    Not that I’m ever likely to get to take my own advice, but cutting right down on packaging is crucial when traveling to small islands who then have to deal with the waste, which often means just storing it.

    Excellent post

    • Amelia
      Posted April 28, 2018

      So so true! It’s often the smaller or less wealthy countries who suffer ?

  • Rachael Stray
    Posted April 28, 2018

    Some really great tips here and things we should all start thinking about doing more whether we are travelling or at home.

    • Amelia
      Posted April 28, 2018

      Thanks so much Rachael!

  • Brenda
    Posted April 28, 2018

    Great advice. I don’t have a vehicle so walking is my main mode of transportation. You miss so much not walking when exploring especially a city. I have reusable bags in all my pursues and they work great and usually can be rolled into small handful.

  • Fancy
    Posted April 28, 2018

    Plenty of food for thought- worth a revisit for me.

  • arv
    Posted April 28, 2018

    Thanks for highlighting all these points. Following just a few will also make a lot of difference!

  • An Historian
    Posted April 29, 2018

    These are fantastic tips! My only recommendation is to find an all-plastic travel mug that you can take apart for security- I’ve had mugs confiscated/hold me up at the security line for 30 minutes or more because they look odd in a scanner!

    • Amelia
      Posted April 30, 2018

      Omg ??‍♀️ mine comes completely apart super easily so I never thought about that! I can just imagine standing there trying to explain “it’s just a coffee cup!!”

  • ActualConversationsWithMyHusband
    Posted April 30, 2018

    Simple choices we can make at home or abroad—excellent post!

  • Hayley
    Posted April 30, 2018

    Excellent tips. Especially the water bottle one.

  • Cherie
    Posted May 17, 2018

    This is a great post with several very good ideas! Hope more people start to put these plans to use!

    • Amelia
      Posted May 17, 2018

      Thanks so much Cherie!

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