What is Sustainable Travel?

Those who love travel and the outdoors in general probably lean toward a sustainable pattern of use, whether at home or on the road. However, a focus on sustainable travel includes keeping an eye on the items you pack, use and discard on your trip. As possible, sustainable travel means carefully managing resources at your travel destination.

Pack Lightly

How long will you be gone, and what weather conditions will you be facing? For backpackers, the question of what to pack becomes even more critical, because what you pack becomes what you’ll have to carry. Pack only what you need; there will be stores between you and your destination if you run worryingly low.

However, for those who plan to camp out of their car, overpacking can get to be a problem. Too much stuff means you can’t find what you need. Too much weight puts strain on your vehicle, especially if you’re traveling through rough country. Finally, extra weight means extra fuel. Even if you’re flying, keeping your gear down to a manageable level can save you energy, money, and stress.

Slow Down

Check out the hikes, sights to see, and other activities you want to enjoy before you get on the road. Pick one thing each day to avoid overloading your schedule. You’re on vacation; while a three-hour hike on your Fontainebleau camping trip may leave twenty-one hours of the day open, you’ll also want time for rest, hydration, and cooking up something yummy on your camping stove.

You don’t have to drive a long way to see some amazing things on your Louisiana camping trip. Pack a pair of binoculars, get quiet and see what birds and other wildlife come near your campsite. If you love to fish, you have a quiet and calming activity built into your travel day. Make sure to bring your bathing suit for a swim in Lake Pontchartrain.

Follow the Rules

Stay on the trails established and be sure to check the fire rules before you stop for firewood. Pay particular attention to rules and regulations on firewood limitations; bringing in wood from another part of the country can also bring in destructive bugs and pests.

Trail rules are particularly important when it comes to finding a pet-friendly trail. For example, a camp with an equine trail may allow horses in one area and dogs in another, but neither animal will have complete access to the entire camp. For your safety, the safety of your animal, and for the peace of mind of other campers, pay attention to the trail markers.

Other Ecosystems

Finally, if your travels will take you out to the desert, be very careful about your trash disposal. If you must dispose of liquid waste, dump it on rocks rather than in the sand. The top layer of sand in some fragile desert ecosystems is rich in organisms and a surprising amount of life.

Proper leave no trace rules to include staying on established trails and avoiding any shocks to that top layer of crust, including liquid discards. Of course, you will pack out all solid trash at the end of your stay. If you plan to have a fire to burn any trash, make sure that a fire is allowed and that you don’t leave anything in the fire ring on your last day.

Talk to the Locals

Even if your vacation goal is to get out into the natural world and take a break from people, it’s important to remember just how interconnected we are. It’s the local rangers who build the trails that make hiking so much fun. It’s the local shop owners and restauranteurs who make it possible to enjoy a great breakfast on your way home.

The health and well-being of local humans is more important to the travel industry than almost any other business. Maintaining a healthy connection with the folks who live in areas that draw a lot of tourism will reduce the risk of popular parks and hikes being shut down due to overuse and abuse.

Your travel goals may have been on hold for a while. As the world opens up, you may want to continue to socially distance yourself from other travelers for safety’s sake. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a relaxing vacation in the natural world.

Author: Sheryl Wright 

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