green holidays made easier
From where you go, to what you pack and how you get there, your travelling decisions can have an indefinite butterfly effect on the places you inhabit. The good news is that being eco-friendly on a budget is possible, and you’re just a hop, skip and jump away from being a fully-fledged eco-warrior.
Think about what you need in your backpack – leaving your straighteners, stilettos and three pairs of favourite jeans at home will save you money on checked in baggage fees and will save on carbon emissions on your flight. Leave any excess packaging at home too, it’s a strain to developing worlds’ eco systems.
Back in 1903 when the Wright brothers invented the aeroplane, there was no such notion of ‘eco-friendly’. Who would’ve thought it would take off (!) like it has. But with this world-travelling power comes great responsibility, and now’s the time to seek other ways to take you to your destination, be it by foot, cycle, train, bus, ferry or car.
Always shop around if you’re flying short-haul – trains can be more comfortable, cheaper and even quicker when you account for checking in times at the airport.
If you must fly, book direct flights as take offs and landings release the most amount of carbon.
Choose hostels with a commitment to; protecting the local environment, employing local people, respecting waste water and contributing to conservation. St Christopher's at the Mosaic House in Prague won the Hostelbookers.com European Eco-friendly Award for Excellence. Championed for its outstanding recycling facilities, grey water recycling and energy-inducing solar panels, it’s one of the best hostels in Prague.
Further afield Costa Rica is well-known for setting the standard for eco-friendly activities – check out the hostels in Monteverde.
The most eco-friendly of Edinburgh’s hostels is the High Street Hostel – it’s completely carbon neutral as their 75 plus-hectare woodland absorbs all their CO2 emissions. A characteristic building dating back to 1564, the owners aim to recycle everything and all their electricity is sourced from renewable non-nuclear supplies. Arrive by train and it’s the closest to a guilt-free holiday you’re going to get!
While you’re away…
Submerge yourself in the culture, starting with tasting the local food – this will support the local food economy better, be cheaper for you, and give you a real taste of your destination.
Whenever possible hike or walk instead of using local transport, it’s free and, as long as you respect your path, it’s good for the environment. If you just can’t walk that far employ man- or beast-powered travel – think rickshaws, camels and elephants.
Many hostels are offering eco-friendly trips at special rates to give guests the best chance at understanding the eco-aims of the area. Brazil’s Hostel Campo Grande offers trips to the beautiful adventurous locations of Pantanal and Bonito, where you can go wildlife-spotting, piranha fishing, bird watching and horse riding,
Make sure tour operators are environmentally responsible and dedicated to eco-tourism. Check they have steps in place to safeguard indigenous wildlife and choose local guides who’ll have an intimate knowledge of the area, but always check their identification.
While you’re exploring investigate any local volunteer programs in the area; you may even get a free meal for your time.
Never buy products made from endangered species, hard wood or ancient artefacts. They will be expensive, you may have to pay a heavy tax to bring them home, and, more importantly, they can be a huge threat to the eco system of your destination.