OUR TOP TIPS
Eco-travel, sustainable tourism, green travel and ethical tourism, to name a few, have all become buzzwords in the recent years. The hype around these concepts has made them quite intimidating – there is a lot of emphasis on making the right travel decisions so that you don’t negatively impact communities, wildlife and the environment.
However, eco-friendly travel isn’t nearly as intense or difficult as it may sound. A few simple changes and conscious decisions here and there can make you an eco-traveler without compromising on having an incredible holiday.
Here are our top eco-friendly travel tips:
1. Pack Lightly.
We’ve all been prone to complain about the restrictions on luggage and excess baggage fees. However, the lighter the aircraft, the less carbon emissions it emits. Packing efficiently isn’t as tricky as it may seem:
- Use an app to help you plan exactly what you need to pack for your trip in advance – packing the night before means you’ll end up with items you never end up wearing.
- Pack multipurpose clothing.
- Avoid packing heavy items like hairdryers – most accommodation options provide these.
- Opt for travel-size items when it comes to your toiletries.
- Take a kindle, e-reader or tablet instead of heavy books and magazines.
2. Visit a Green Destination.
One of the biggest and easiest way to support eco-friendly travel is to choose a green destination. Choose a destination that is working toward the protection of the planet in some way, be it combatting climate change, protecting local wildlife, uplifting local communities. Here are some of the most sustainable destinations in Africa, according to the 2019 Sustainable Destinations Top 100 list:
- Felicité Island, the Seychelles
- Kahuzi Biege National Park, the Democratic Republic of Congo
- North Island, the Seychelles
3. Choose Eco-Conscious Accommodation.
The accommodation you choose for your holiday is one of the biggest factors impacting your eco-footprint. Choose a hotel, guest house or safari lodge that upholds and promotes eco-friendly practices. Knowing that you’re staying somewhere that makes use of solar power, recycling, greywater systems or plastic-free systems, takes a lot of ‘green travel weight’ off your shoulders. Discover our favourite eco-friendly safari lodges here.
4. Pack Your Own Toiletries.
Packing your own toiletries in reusable, travel size packaging is an easy way to make an impact. If you’re feeling inspired, you can even take this one step further and opt for zero-waste toiletry products – such as shampoo bars and deodorant paste. By taking your own toiletries, you avoid using the ones provided by your hotel or lodge, these often come in packaging that isn’t biodegradable – an environmental no-no.
5. Fly Direct.
If possible, book a direct flight to your destination. Take-off and landing use the most fuel and thus have the biggest carbon emissions. If you can reduce the number of flights you take, you can reduce your carbon footprint.
6. Travel Overland.
Avoiding flying when possible is one of the best ways to become an eco-traveler. “Slow travel” is an emerging trend – encouraging travel to fewer places, spending more time at each. Train travel is one of the best ways to do this. Luckily, Africa is not short of incredible luxury rail journeys with scenery so beautiful you’ll be happy to skip the flights.
7. Treat Your Hotel Like Home.
When staying in a safari lodge or hotel, try and treat it like home. Reuse your towel – laundry accounts for 16% of a hotel’s water usage. You don’t wash your towel every day at home, so why should your holiday be any different? The same goes for having your room cleaned daily – by simply putting up the “Do Not Disturb” sign, you’ll help reduce the washing of sheets, use of cleaning products and electricity used for vacuuming. Shorter showers, instead of baths, are another easy eco-friendly travel hack.
8. Switch Off the Lights.
An easy way to travel green is to switch off lights when you aren’t using them. Do this not only in your hotel or lodge, but your home as well. Make sure that before you leave for your trip, you unplug everything that won’t be used.
9. Go Electronic.
Avoid paper where possible. Take a kindle or e-reader, download your plane tickets to your phone, opt for apps over guidebooks. These are all easy ways to reduce your use of paper and cut down on how much you have to carry – one of the perks of modern-day technology is that you can have everything on your mobile phone!
10. Use Eco-Friendly Products.
This is a simple switch that has deep impact – choosing eco-friendly products can greatly reduce your environmental footprint – choose reef-friendly sunscreen and eco-friendly insect repellent. This ensures you don’t leave any damage or negative impact on your surrounding environment.
11. Shop Locally.
You can easily make a positive impact on your destination by opting for local. Choose locally owned accommodation, eat at locally owned restaurants and buy locally made products and souvenirs.
12. Don’t Buy Wildlife Products.
Never buy any product that is made from any animal, especially protected or endangered. This only encourages the trafficking or poaching of these animals to make travel souvenirs.
13. Say No To Plastic.
Single-use plastics are one of the biggest crises the world is facing when it comes to the environment. 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally every year – half of which is single-use with more than 8 million tons of that plastic being dumped in the ocean. There are easy ways to reduce your use of plastic:
- Take reusable water bottle.
- Take bamboo or metal straws.
- Pack a reusable shopping bag in place of using plastic bags.
- Take a ‘keep cup’ instead of using takeaway coffee cups.
14. Only Choose Ethical Wildlife Interactions.
Don’t go on any tour or excursion that involves hands-on encounters with wild animals, such as riding elephants or walking with lions. Well-meaning tourists are often tempted by the prospect of an amazing selfie with a wild animal, but these animals are being taken from the wild and often mistreated to keep them docile. Wild animals should have as little interference from humans as possible. Always do your research before booking any tour or activity involving animals. Our top recommended ethical animal interactions in Africa include gorilla trekking and a visit to Giraffe Manor.
15. Be Conscious of Where You are Going.
One of the best things you can do for eco-travel is be conscious of where your destination. Research your destination beforehand to find out what you need to be aware of. If there is a drought, you know to use water sparingly. Are there local communities in need of aid? If there are wildlife experiences, ensure they are ethical.
16. Give Back Consciously.
Many tourists visiting developing countries often bring clothing, books, sweets and stationery to give to the local communities. Of course, this is appreciated, but can lead to conflict amongst who receives the gifts, as well as a surplus of things that the community is not in need of. If you are wanting to make a donation to a community in your travel destination, it’s best to go through a reputable local charity or organisation, or partnering international organisation, Pack for a Purpose is a great website for this.
17. Raise Eco-Travelers.
A bonus eco-friendly travel tip is for all parents and future parents, one of the best things you can do for our planet is raise your children to be responsible travelers. If they learn these habits from young, the world will have a generation of travelers where sustainable and eco-friendly practices are second nature.