Tag - sustainable travel

Sustainable Backpacking on a Budget – What You Need to Know

Backpacker sitting on beach

Guest post by Richard Meadow

Sustainable Backpacking

Backpacking can be a liberating and exhilarating experience, allowing you to explore the world with nothing but the bare essentials carried on your back. This freeing, land-based way of travelling is a firm favourite with nature and animal lovers, and consequently, with those who try to live sustainably. So, how do you take your sustainable lifestyle onto the road? Here’s what you need to know about sustainable backpacking.

Choose Green Destinations

First thing’s first, where are you headed? If you’re planning to backpack around some of the world’s finest beach destinations, then you should visit those countries that are actively implementing sustainable and ethical tourism practices. From Fiji to Palau, there are plenty of countries that frequently top the charts when it comes to environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights. Take a look at the most ethical destinations for 2019 here and find out how to book a green hotel here.

Avoid Single-Use Plastics

Ditch single-use plastic straws and bottles and invest in reusable alternatives. You could bring bamboo utensils, a stainless steel straw and a metal water bottle in your backpack for emergencies where no eco-friendly options are available. Other than that, drink your coffee in the ceramic mugs at the café, eat your meals in the restaurant and bring a tote bag for groceries. 

And while you are at the beach, why not help local hotels by participating in beach cleaning.

Choose Land Travel Wherever Possible

Thai train sustainable backpacking

One of the biggest parts of living sustainably is minimising your carbon footprint and providing for yourself. In this sense, travelling on foot or by bicycle is recommended wherever possible. However, this isn’t always practical when you need to cross borders! Instead of air travel, research public transport options like trains and buses. In many countries, ride-sharing is a safe, cost-effective and eco-friendly way of travelling.

Skip Animal Tourism

Animal tourism is constantly falling out of favour. People no longer want to ride elephants for entertainment, they want to view them from afar with a reputable organisation that is conscious of its impact on the animals. Do some research before you set off to find the best companies to travel with if you want to see wildlife.

Pack Lightly

When you’re backpacking, it’s best to travel lightly anyway – after all, you’ve got to carry all that weight on your back! But just think, the extra weight will also mean that you need more fuel, which is eventually more harmful for the environment. Consider this when you’re loading up your backpack with 5 swimsuits, travel pillow and endless outfit options. Find more light travel packing tips here.

Dry Clothes and Towels Naturally

If you’re backpacking at the height of summer, no doubt it’s going to pretty hot wherever you are. So, take advantage of the weather and hang your clothes outside to dry instead of using the facilities. You could also handwash your clothes if you’ve got access to clean water.

Buy Handmade Souvenirs

homemade tribal souvenirs from Southeast Asia

Support the economy by purchasing handmade souvenirs by the locals. Often, they’re made using natural resources, so not only will you leave with a long-lasting souvenir, but you’re also buying an environmentally friendly product. The same goes for tours too! Make an effort to give your money to businesses that employ locals.

Keep Info on Your Mobile

travel info on phoneCut down on excessive use of paper by having e-tickets on your phone, as well as all your important travel documents. Do remember, because you’ll be keeping all information on your phone, you need to make sure it’s charged up at all time – so pack a travel adapter to take with you wherever you go.

It’s also worth downloading useful apps, finding restaurant deals, cheap travel choices and anything else that may help you on the trip is useful made into an app!


If you’re big on sustainability, recycling should come naturally to you wherever you are. If you’ve not got the means to recycle nearby, then bring all your recycling with you in your tote bag until you find a place where you can dispose of it. section seperator

About the Author

Richard Meadow Freelance writer/ BloggerRichard Meadow is a freelance writer that has spent 4 years travelling after University. He’s been all around the world and learnt a lot about different cultures compared to his home in the UK. He wants to share his knowledge with interested readers in a way that they could use the information for a practical use. section seperator

If you are interested in sustainable backpacking, there are plenty of articles on sustainable travel here and a great essential guide to responsible travel here.

Cover photo by David Izquierdo, Unsplash.

Practical Tips for Sustainable Travel

Homestay experience in Malaysia with tourists eating local Malaysian cuisine with their local homestay hosts. Homestay accommodation is one of many simple tips for sustainable travel.

Have you ever wondered what you can do to travel like a sustainability champion?

Some people mistakingly think that the very act of traveling is incompatible with sustainability because of the carbon footprint from transportation. But sustainability is not some kind of polarized either / or action. There are a great many things you can do (and not do) in order to make your travel more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. Most of them are rather simple, even common sense.

Here is an overview of things you can easily incorporate in your travels. By following these tips you will both limit the negative impacts of traveling and award yourself a more meaningful travel experience.

Practical Tips for Sustainable Travel

Photo of Routeburn Flats, on the Routeburn Track in New Zealand.
Image credits: unuk

These simple sustainability tips apply to all kinds of travels whether it be a city break, a 6-months backpacking trip, or a beach holiday.

Common sense should not be left at home

In various forms, travel can be a relief from all the worries and responsibilities at home. Sometimes, tourists take their traveling freedom a bit too far though. Just like at home, there are rules and cultural norms to respect, and there are natural environments to consider. Why would that be any different a thousand miles from home?

It is not uncommon for hotel guests to leave the air-condition on for hours while they are exploring the area. In this way they don’t have to endure the 2 minutes of slightly too warm or too cold a room. Would you do that at home? Hopefully not.

Would you point your camera in a strangers face and snap away without seeking acceptance first? This is as intrusive in other countries as our own. Instead ask politely, strike up a conversation, and you will find that most people will gladly award you with their picture. These are common sense behaviours, but still some travelers seem to leave their brain at home when they travel.

Eat, stay, and buy local

Why not eat locally? You treat yourself to new tastes, new ways of eating, and important cultural insights when you eat locally. Why not stay at a family-run hotel instead of an international chain hotel? Why not buy locally made art, food, and fashion instead of visiting the very same stores you can find in a hundred other countries?

You will minimize tourism leakage by supporting the local community directly. You will interact with your local host or seller, and you will do what traveling should first and foremost be about: Excitement, novelty, surprise, learning new ways, and exploring your own cultural background in comparison.

You might add that travel is mostly about relaxation, pampering, and re-juvenation in today’s world. Even so, it’s simple to inject some sustainability in there. Just follow these simple tips for sustainable travel as presented in the infographic.

Three central resources on sustainable tourism

For more tips on sustainable travel, we suggest you to explore the websites of The International Ecotourism Society (Ties), Sustainable Travel International (STI), and Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA’s) website on tourism sustainability and social responsibility, Here you will find a lot of background information on sustainable tourism along with guides, case studies, and research.

Photo credits (cover photo): Tourism Malaysia

Why is Tourism Sustainability a Contradiction?

Two mountain-bikers in a beautiful rural mountain setting

At a public travel fair in Copenhagen, Denmark the “Tourism Sustainability” booth was like a deserted island.

The two lone sustainability advisers in the booth were killing time inventing games and sharing stories like Crusoe and Friday. The travel fair was packed, but visitors were avoiding the tourism sustainability booth like a bad conscience, and instead diverting their attention to the exotic travel offers from travel agencies and destination organizations.

Crusoe and Friday decided to venture off their deserted island booth and impose themselves on the travel fair visitors instead. The response they got?

“Huh? Sustainability? I’m here to find good travel deals, so that doesn’t really blend.”

“Eeerh yeah… sustainability is important, but I also love to travel…”

So it turned out that people actually find tourism incompatible with sustainability. The tourism sustainability booth was considered misplaced among the inviting holiday dreams served by the travel and tourism trade. The good news, these fair visitors are obviously aware that traveling on flights and cruises have negative impacts on the environment. The bad news, people somehow seem to assume that the battle is lost once you include an airplane in your holiday, and that there is no point in trying to fight a lost cause. There are a couple of wrong assumptions in the two responses above.

Tourism sustainability is more than carbon emissions from air planes

Tourism sustainability is not merely about pollution from your airplane and other means of transportation. In tourism we refer to three aspects of sustainability, and each of these should be taken into consideration: 1) Environmental, 2) Social, and 3) Economic sustainability. Environmental sustainability includes protection of wildlife, natural habitat, water and energy resources, and waste management, both in a global and local perspective. Social sustainability in tourism refers to mutual respect between hosts and guests, and fair involvement of the local population in the benefits of tourism and in the central decisions in tourism development. Economic sustainability is both sustaining a profitable tourism business while offering a fair distribution of the economic benefits and jobs generated by the industry. The three aspects of tourism sustainability are highly inter-related.

Tourism Sustainability figure showing three overlapping aspects of Environmental, Social, and Economic Sustainability

Thus, a travel holiday is so much more than the transporting flight – hopefully. There are the natural surroundings and wildlife of your destination, the local population, culture, economy, the accommodation, the food, the shopping, and the excursions. In all of these aspects there are choices to be made that can be more or less harmful or beneficial to the travel destination from a sustainability point of view. Many of these choices are no different than choices you make every day at home, but in fragile natural environments and low-resource settings these choices most often have bigger implications.

Sustainability is not a question of “either/or”

In the vast majority of cases, transportation in travel has a negative environmental impact. But does that mean that we might as well discard all other measures of sustainability now that we can’t reach perfection? It would be like saying that because you can’t stop eating cookies, you might as well also drink coke, eat hot-dogs, avoid all forms of exercise, and start smoking.

That doesn’t make sense. So instead of thinking sustainability is an “either/or”-question, we should consider sustainability a complex continuum ranging from sustainable to non-sustainable practices and outcomes. Our choices before, during, and after our holiday have an effect on people, economies, natural surroundings, and the environment. And small drops of sustainability is better than none at all, so sustainability and tourism is not a contradiction. They are highly integrated and inter-dependent. In fact, we need to “think and act” tourism sustainability in order to maintain our beautiful travel destinations for generations to come.

Tourism Sustainability will be a recurring theme so be sure to check regularly for updates on the subject on