A cycle route marker

Sustainable Travel

Six simple yet effectual sustainable travel tips

Sustainable Travel

Unfortunately, travelling often means enlarging one’s carbon footprint due to flights taken to far-flung destinations where disposable plastic is common place.

With more than 70 countries travelled between us, we would like to share these six simple but effectual sustainable travel tips that could significantly minimise the carbon footprint of your next trip.

1. Inspiration for an eco-adventure

2. Transportation

3. Adventure locally

4. Change your state of mind – Slow Travel

5. Choose the right accommodation

6. Volunteer conservation holidays

7. Pack light and pack consciously

Unfortunately, travelling often means enlarging one’s carbon footprint due to flights taken to far-flung destinations where disposable plastic is common place.

With more than 70 countries travelled between us, we would like to share these six simple but effectual sustainable travel tips that could significantly minimise the carbon footprint of your next trip.

1. Inspiration for an eco-adventure

2. Transportation

3. Adventure locally

4. Change your state of mind – Slow Travel

5. Choose the right accommodation

6. Volunteer conservation holidays

7. Pack light and pack consciously

Inspiration to this Sustainable Travel Guide

Caroline Ciavaldini and James Pearson are well travelled, environmentally conscious professional climbers, who for the last two years have been carbon offsetting their travel with Mossy Earth. For most, this would be enough, but they’re as passionate about preserving our planet as they are climbing death defying routes in remote locations. And so, for them, carbon offsetting was just the first step.

Next, they questioned the number of flights they take, whether they could travel more sustainably and if they could still find adrenaline fueled adventures without flying to the other side of the world …it was then that the eco-trip to Ordesa was born.

 

Transportation

“We threw the idea of a green trip in the air last November, at first travelling with an electric car seemed like the best idea, but the carbon footprint of an electric car isn’t as wonderful, and as we researched, we realised that we could go greener with public transport”. Caroline Ciavaldini

James and Caro take the train on stage one of their sustainable travel adventure.
James and Caro take the train on stage one of their sustainable travel adventure.

Transportation

“We threw the idea of a green trip in the air last November, at first travelling with an electric car seemed like the best idea, but the carbon footprint of an electric car isn’t as wonderful, and as we researched, we realised that we could go greener with public transport”. Caroline Ciavaldini

Travelling by bus or rail can be a relaxing and often a luxurious way to see the countryside. There is no better feeling than dozing off with a good book to the melodic sound of a train running over the tracks. In Europe there is a wide variety of competitively priced bus and rail passes available as well as excellent websites that enable you to plan journeys and book all tickets in advance. There are also car sharing and hitch hiking to consider.

Adventure Locally

“Sometimes what we are looking for is right under our nose and we don’t even know it. We often get so caught up in travelling to places we’ve seen in climbing magazines and on videos, that we forget there are still amazing places to discover much closer to home.” James Pearson

James and Caro’s trip to Ordesa was a ‘slow’ two-week adventure that saw them catch the train from their home in France before mountain biking through the Spanish Pyrenees to their destination. Once in the village, they would walk or bike to and from the local town for groceries.

So, for your next trip, why not discover somewhere new much closer to home. – You’ll be surprised what’s out there and right under your nose.

James on his mountain bike laden with  backpack and saddle bags as part of the second phase of his and his wife's sustainable travel adventure.
Slow Travel by train is a must for a sustainable travel adventure.

Change the state of mind – Slow Travel

For James and Caro travelling by bike and train was as much a part of the adventure as the trad climbing itself. So, in addition to travelling locally, try slow travel and make your next journey as much of a quest as the destination.

“Slow travel is not so much a particular mode of transportation as it is a mindset. Rather than attempting to squeeze as many sights or cities as possible into each trip, the slow traveller takes the time to explore each destination thoroughly and to experience the local culture.” The Independent Traveller

As well as minimising your holiday’s carbon footprint, a slow travel mindset encourages you to connect with local people, learn a little of the language, prolong your stay to immerse yourself in the local culture, learn to say “yes” more, understand that there are no must sees and drop the travel guidebook. You’ll quickly learn that doing less is actually more, while your travel footprint has a much lower impact.

Choose the right accommodation

Whether you plan to stay one night or a week, your lodgings becomes your adopted home for the duration – and just as your own humble abode reflects your approach to living, as an eco-conscious traveller you want your borrowed one to do the same.

Needless to say, there is no shortage of accommodation providers prepared to tell you how environmentally conscious they are, but that, still leaves the difficulty of verifying such claims. A hotel stating to be green must have a written environmental policy. Regardless of its presentation, the environmental policy should include what steps they take to minimise their carbon emissions and environmental impact, details of their purchasing policy and how they assist conservation projects. One should also attempt to find out to what extent they support the local economy and the way they treat waste and water.

A sustainable hotel accommodation overlooking snow capped mountains
Volunteers tree plant in Portugal as part of a sustainable travel volunteer program.

Volunteer conservation holidays

Being bitten by the travel bug but caring for the environment, can prove something of a dilemma, making it difficult to see how these two conflicting desires can be reconciled. Volunteering is an excellent remedy for this, allowing you to give back to the planet while at the same time enjoying an enriching and often life changing travel experience. So why not mix up your next trip with a spot of conservation volunteering.

Whether you are looking to spend a day or two, or a week or more, in the UK or abroad, the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) is a good place to start. Within Britain various regional branches offer a wide variety of working holidays, with the chance to develop a whole new range of skills while helping to preserve some of our best natural heritage. Always be sure to check the credentials of the conservation project and volunteering programme. – Choose wisely and you could be doing something as cool as marine conservation in Australia or surveying wolves and bears in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains.

Pack light and pack consciously

The first thing to be aware of is that the heavier your bags, the more fuel, whether car, bus or plane, has to be expended to get you to your destination, so travel light. Excess packaging and disposable goods should be high on the list of things to avoid.

James and Caro choose to forward all their heavy climbing gear by train while they cycled through the Pyrenees. The carbon footprint of using the bikes and putting climbing gear on the train was significantly smaller than had they taken a plane or car.

To avoid an excess of single use disposable plastics, we suggest packing:

  • Reusable drinking bottle
  • A solar travel pack for charging
  • A reusable knife, fork, spoon, cup & plate
  • Solid soaps and detergents
  • A bamboo toothbrush and solid, packaging free toothpaste

 

When it comes to personal hygiene, particularly in developing countries, the water you’re washing in may be someone else’s drinking water downstream so avoid using conventional soaps, detergents and deodorants. There is a huge selection of great biodegradable and eco-friendly cleaning products available online. If travelling in a group, try to share toiletries with friends, there is no use in five friends each taking a tube of toothpaste. Packing a Sari is a must too, not only very light but it can double up as a towel, blanket or scarf. Finally, and wherever possible, travel paperless. Nowadays, all tickets, boarding passes, insurance policies and visa docs can be saved online or as a pdf download.

 

Travelling by bus or rail can be a relaxing and often a luxurious way to see the countryside. There is no better feeling than dozing off with a good book to the melodic sound of the train running over the tracks. In Europe there is a wide variety of competitively priced bus and rail passes available as well as excellent websites that enable you to plan journeys and book all tickets in advance. There are also car sharing and hitch hiking to consider.

Adventure Locally

“Sometimes what we are looking for is right under our nose and we don’t even know it. We often get so caught up in travelling to places we’ve seen in climbing magazines and on videos that we forget there are still amazing places to discover much closer to home.” James Pearson

James on his mountain bike laden with  backpack and saddle bags as part of the second phase of his and his wife's sustainable travel adventure.

James and Caro’s trip to Ordesa was a ‘slow’ two-week adventure that saw them catch the train from their home in France before mountain biking through the Spanish Pyrenees to their destination. Once in the village, they would walk or bike to and from the local town for groceries.

So, for your next trip, why not discover somewhere new much closer to home. – You’ll be surprised what’s out there and right under your nose.

Change the state of mind – Slow Travel

For James and Caro travelling by bike and train was as much a part of the adventure as the trad climbing itself. So, in addition to travelling locally, try slow travel and make your next journey as much of a quest as the destination.

“Slow travel is not so much a particular mode of transportation as it is a mindset. Rather than attempting to squeeze as many sights or cities as possible into each trip, the slow traveller takes the time to explore each destination thoroughly and to experience the local culture.” The Independent Traveller

Slow Travel by train is a must for a sustainable travel adventure.

As well as minimising your holiday’s carbon footprint, a slow travel mindset encourages you to connect with local people, learn a little of the language, prolong your stay to immerse yourself in the local culture, learn to say “yes” more, understand that there are no must sees and drop the travel guidebook. You’ll quickly learn that doing less is actually more, while your travel footprint has a much lower impact.

Choose the right accommodation

Whether you plan to stay one night or a week, your lodgings becomes your adopted home for the duration – and just as your own humble abode reflects your approach to living, as an eco-conscious traveller you want your borrowed one to do the same.

A sustainable hotel accommodation overlooking snow capped mountains

Needless to say, there is no shortage of accommodation providers prepared to tell you how environmentally conscious they are, but that, still leaves the difficulty of verifying such claims. A hotel stating to be green must have a written environmental policy. Regardless of its presentation, the environmental policy should include what steps they take to minimise their carbon emissions and environmental impact, details of their purchasing policy and how they assist conservation projects. One should also attempt to find out to what extent they support the local economy and the way they treat waste and water.

Volunteer conservation holidays

Being bitten by the travel bug but caring for the environment, can prove something of a dilemma, making it difficult to see how these two conflicting desires can be reconciled. Volunteering is an excellent remedy for this, allowing you to give back to the planet while at the same time enjoying an enriching and often life changing travel experience. So why not mix up your next climbing trip with a spot of conservation volunteering.

Volunteers tree plant in Portugal as part of a sustainable travel volunteer program.

Whether you are looking to spend a day or two, or a week or more, in the UK or abroad, the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) is a good place to start. Within Britain various regional branches offer a wide variety of working holidays, with the chance to develop a whole new range of skills while helping to preserve some of our best natural heritage. Always be sure to check the credentials of the conservation project and volunteering programme. – Choose wisely and you could be doing something as cool as marine conservation in Australia or surveying wolves and bears in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains.

Pack light and pack consciously

The first thing to be aware of is that the heavier your bags, the more fuel, whether car, bus or plane, has to be expended to get you to your destination, so travel light. Excess packaging and disposable goods should be high on the list of things to avoid.

James and Caro choose to forward all their heavy climbing gear by train while they cycled through the Pyrenees. The carbon footprint of using the bikes and putting climbing gear on the train was significantly smaller than had they taken a plane or car.

To avoid an excess of single use disposable plastics, we suggest packing:

  • Reusable drinking bottle
  • A solar travel pack for charging
  • A reusable knife, fork, spoon, cup & plate
  • Solid soaps and detergents
  • A bamboo toothbrush and solid, packaging free toothpaste

When it comes to personal hygiene, particularly in developing countries, the water you’re washing in may be someone else’s drinking water downstream so avoid using conventional soaps, detergents and deodorants. There is a huge selection of great biodegradable and eco-friendly cleaning products available online. If travelling in a group, try to share toiletries with friends, there is no use in five friends each taking a tube of toothpaste. Packing a Sari is a must too, not only very light but it can double up as a towel, blanket or scarf. Finally, and wherever possible, travel paperless. Nowadays, all tickets, boarding passes, insurance policies and visa docs can be saved online or as a pdf download.

A man taking drinking water from a river

Slow, sustainable travel is not so much a particular mode of transportation as it is a mindset.

A man taking drinking water from a river

Slow, sustainable travel is not so much a particular mode of transportation as it is a mindset.

Sources & further reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

  1. 1. “Slow Travel” – Wild Country UK – wildcountry.com
  2. 2. “A critical eye: a slow travel trip” – Wild Country UK – wildcountry.com
  3. 3. “The Idle Traveller: The Art of Slow Travel” – Dan Kieran – amazon.com
  4. 4. “Slow Travel: Escape the Grind and Explore the World” – Jennifer M. Sparks – amazon.com

Sources & further reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

  1. 1. “Slow Travel” – Wild Country UK – wildcountry.com
  2. 2. “A critical eye: a slow travel trip” – Wild Country UK – wildcountry.com
  3. 3. “The Idle Traveller: The Art of Slow Travel” – Dan Kieran – amazon.com
  4. 4. “Slow Travel: Escape the Grind and Explore the World” – Jennifer M. Sparks – amazon.com