How to Travel Light

Footprints in sand

Credit: iStockphoto

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Before You Go

Before you even start planning a trip there are some ideas to consider to help green your holiday.

  1. Stay closer to home
  2. There's been a lot of talk about the significant contribution jet travel makes to the world's overall levels of carbon emissions (said to be as much as three per cent).

    Choose to reduce your contribution to carbon emissions by checking out you own neighbourhood.

    If all you want to do is flop on a beach, do you really need to fly to the Maldives to do it? Arguably, the best beaches in the world are on our doorstep.

    Apart from the hundreds of beaches fringing Australia's coastline, world-class island escapes are within a couple of hours of most capital cities.

    For example,World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island - less than two hours' flight from Sydney or Brisbane - has been called the most beautiful island in the South Pacific and with tourist numbers limited to just 400 per night, it's never going to be loved to death.

  3. If you're going overseas, offset your trip
  4. If you decide you really want to venture further afield, save the long-haul flights for longer holidays.

    When you fly, consider off-setting your carbon emissions so your travels are carbon neutral.

    There are a number of websites where you can plug in your flight route, calculate your personal carbon emissions and then pay a fee to an organisation that will plant trees or invest in community projects to counterbalance your emissions.

  5. Follow the path less travelled
  6. When selecting your destination, be wary of those places that are now so popular they're being trampled underfoot.

    Try new places - look for destinations that could benefit from some visitation but that perhaps have some sort of factor - be it regulatory, physical or cultural - that will prevent them from being trampled and over-run.

  7. Support responsible operators
  8. If you're travelling on an organised tour or booking into a hotel or resort, check the operator's responsible tourism credentials.

    Ask to see their responsible tourism policy - if they're serious, they'll usually have it posted on their website.

    Questions you should ask:

    • Do they employ local people, and what training opportunities are provided?
    • Do they use locally owned accommodation, restaurants and suppliers whre possible, so that revenue is returned to the local economy?
    • Are they involved with any local community or enviornmental projects?
    • What information about the local environment and culture do they provide to clients?
    • What measures have they taken to reduce their environmental impact?

    Good operators will be addressing obvious environmental issues such as recycling and fuel efficiency, but further, they'll be working with local authorities and communities to ensure the sustainability of their destinations in the long term.

    For a travel company, responsible tourism isn't always the easy option, so those that are doing it right are usually pretty passionate about it - and that passion tends to infuse all aspects of their operations, including your holiday.

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