You have probably heard of the terms: Green travel, organic, eco-conscious, eco-friendly, responsible, sustainable, eco-tourism, but what do they really mean?
What is the definition of green travel exactly?
In the past several years, these environmental catchphrases have cropped up everywhere — in newspaper articles, online, in stores.
But what do they all mean in the context of travel?
Since these concepts are still in their formative stages, defining them is tricky.
But we’ve compiled definitions from reputable sources and added our own two cents.
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Definition of green travel and how to travel green
Conscious means being aware of something.
Eco means concerning the environment, so “eco-conscious travel” essentially means being aware of the environment, and your impact on the environment, when you travel.
Again, eco relates to the environment, and we all know what friendly means, so “eco-friendly travel” means being nice to and having little impact on the environment when you travel.
From our good friends at Ecotourism Australia, “Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.”
This concept expands beyond the traditional notions of environmentalism and encompasses socially-conscious travel.
It means understanding, respecting, and supporting the cultures and people in the area you are visiting.
We have paraphrased the definition from Lonely Planet, which seems to really hit the mark.
Lonely Planet describes it as travel that considers the “triple bottom line” issues of the environment; social/cultural; and economic.
travel that strives to minimize negative environmental impacts.
If possible, seeks to make positive contributions to the conservation of biodiversity, wilderness, natural and human heritage.
travel that respects traditions and culture; and looks for ways to foster authentic interaction and greater understanding between travelers and hosts.
travel that has financial advantages for the host community and operates on the principles of fair trade.
From Detour Destinations, this is defined as “a level of tourism activity that can be maintained over the long term because it results in a net benefit for the social, economic, natural and cultural environments of the area in which it takes place.”
Because so many people now associate the term “organic” with the food they consume or the clothes they wear, this term could have many meanings and interpretations.
It could mean to take “staycations” where you travel close to home, visiting the museums, parks, and downtown areas.
Maybe it is easy to drive to or maybe you take the bus or train to get there.
Perhaps instead of taking the bus tour, you seek out a walking tour or bicycle tour.
It could mean being as local as you can be wherever you are.
As an example, while on a vacation, or anywhere and anytime really, seeking out local produce from the grocery, farmers market, or road stand.
It could mean eating in a local, rather than brand name, restaurant.
It could mean staying in a small, local bed & breakfast instead of the larger, often more wasteful, large hotel chain.
As defined by the staff at GoGreenTravelGreen, we consider green travel to mean:
- Thinking about your impact on the environment (both the physical and social environment) when you travel
- Doing your part to minimize your impact on the environment — so that tourism in your destination can be maintained in the long run
- Understanding eco-friendly choices you can make
- Making eco-friendly choices when they are options
- Doing your research to be a responsible traveler
- Saving money by making low-impact choices
Definition of What is Green Travel
There are many answers to the question of what is green travel.
By being mindful of your choices, it can easily become a habit.
Just seek out and implement the eco-friendly options when you can.
Green Tourism: A PR Trend or Something More?
Lately, I’ve noticed a number of city or state specific green tourism sites popping up.
For instance, Wisconsin has a green tourism site.
Boston has a green site.
San Franscico has an excellent site.
Minnesota (through the University of Minnesota) has launched a site.
Virginia was one of the first states I saw with a green tourism site.
Even a city in Vietnam has put forth a green tourism initiative.
Green Tourism: A PR Trend
photo credit: Yodel Anecdotal
I’m curious about what others think about these sites and promotions.
Is it just tourism hype?
Or a good conscious effort to make a city green?
Or somewhere in between?
Personally, I think the green tourism trend seems to be a good thing.
The tourism sites I’ve seen are (for the most part) really well put together with useful information.
Even with the economy as it is, green tourism is growing.
And it’s nice to see that cities are still pushing green travel.
Consider these 13 tips for meeting other green travelers
Meeting fellow travelers can be intimidating, especially when you first start traveling.
But it doesn’t have to be.
These tips and tricks will help you find fellow green travelers to join you on the next leg of your journey – whether it be a day in a nearby village or a month in Costa Rica.
Using these 13 tips for meeting other green travelers can be a wonderful way for everyone to benefit from conserving our earth’s precious resources.
Become a couchsurfer
At CouchSurfing, you search for locals to stay with in thousands of destinations across the world, from Switzerland to Sri Lanka.
You can search based on language, gender, age, and key words, so it’s easy to find someone with interests and passions similar to yours.
Odds are if people are hosting couch surfers, they probably couch surf themselves so you could meet a future travel companion.
It’s our kind of organization – it’s free, it’s a non-profit, and it has a conscience.
According to its website, Couch Surfing’s mission is “to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance and facilitate cultural understanding.”
For other couch surfing sites, check out The Top 5 Couch surfing Sites from the Times Online.
Volunteer for the environment
At Volunteer Abroad you can search for volunteer opportunities by region, city, and interest area, including “environment.”
Volunteer Latin American focuses on sustainability and conservation and offers a variety of green volunteer opportunities throughout Latin America.
At Idealist.org, you can choose an interest area and a location to search for volunteer opportunities and jobs. For more green volunteering abroad ideas, check out this Green Guide post.
Use social networking sites
Join an international group or find your destination and post a call out for other green travelers in the forum.
Take the bus or train
In addition to being less environmentally-friendly, traveling by rental car is isolating.
It’s hard to meet other travelers while you’re locked inside your Prius.
But intra-country public transportation sets you up to be much more social.
If you’re looking for traveling friends, choose to sit near other backpackers and when you get the chance, take the opportunity to talk with that German couple in your train car.
Seek out group activities
Ask the person working the hostel desk what kinds of low-budget group activities he or she would recommend.
Find something that sounds interesting and sign up for it.
Whether you’re whitewater rafting or taking a day trip to a nearby city, spending an entire day with other travelers will help you get to know them.
And if you pick a green activity, odds are you’ll meets lots of other green travelers.
Arrange a group activity
Can’t seem to find a prearranged group activity? Set one up yourself.
Ask other hostelers what they’ve done and if they’d recommend it.
Look online or in your travel guide for day trips or local activities.
Pick some interesting activities and invite your fellow hostelers to come along.
Don’t be shy – you’ll be surprised how many others will take you up on your offer.
Search online forums
Before you head to your next destination, check out travel or backpacker message boards and forums.
There are country-specific forums, like Backpacker Board in New Zealand, and international ones like those on Eurotrip.com, Trip Advisor, and Hostels.com.
Try a search for “travel buddy” or “travel partner” if you’re seeking a fellow green traveler to join you on the next leg of your trip.
Strike up a conversation
It’s easy to be intimidated in new situations, but remember that everyone in a hostel is in the same boat.
Start a conversation with other travelers in the hostel kitchen or the town square.
Ask people where they’re from, what they like to do, where they’re headed next.
If you share the same interests, suggest going out for dinner at the local organic restaurant you heard about.
Go to a meetup
Meetup.com is a free way to organize online and in-person around just about any interest.
You can find meetups in your hometown before you start your travels or you can look for meetups in your destination.
Join the meetups that look interesting to you and make friends with people who share your interests.
In addition to great travel advice, you might also meet some future travel buddies.
You can start by browsing the travel, backpackers, and environment meetups.
Contact a green travel organization
Ask around about or search online for green travel associations in the country you’re visiting.
Organizations like Camp Green, Canada, which is “a national campaign of Canadians working together to improve the environment,” will be able to tell you about local green activities and connect you with other green travelers.
Take an Ecotour
Ecotours are becoming increasingly widespread to the extent that even non-environmentalists are checking them out.
It’s a double-edged sword – it’s good because it means people who wouldn’t otherwise care about the environment are doing something to help it, but bad because it means it might be harder to meet other sincere green travelers.
Planeta.com, which “has provided tips for travelers and locals who share a vision of eco-friendly, people-friendly and place-friendly travel” since 1994, is a great place to start.
Peruse online classified ads
Community-based online classifieds like Craigslist in the U.S. and other countries and Gumtree in Australia are good places to look for green travel events and travel partners.
On Gumtree, click the “travel/travel partners” under “community” to browse ads other travelers have posted.
As always with situations when you’re meeting strangers, be smart and use your better judgment.
If you find a perspective green travel buddy, meet him or her in a public location.
Talk to your friends and family
Even if they don’t travel much, friends and family members likely know people who do.
You never know – your mom’s college roommate’s daughter who’s majoring in environmental science might be in Costa Rica when you are.
Keep your family and friends in the loop on your next travel destination and let them know you’d like to meet up with anyone they know in that country.
Bonus Tip: Remember sometimes it’s ok to travel alone
So you follow the steps above and meet Barbara, a fellow green traveler, in Munich.
She’s nice enough but by day 3, you’ve realized a long-term friendship isn’t in your future.
Good thing you’re leaving for Prague in the morning, right?
But when you get up to head to the train station the next morning, Barbara’s waiting and excitedly tells you she’s changed her plans and can go with you to Prague.
Think it won’t happen to you?
This is a true story, as told to me by Toby, an Australian backpacker I met in Poland.
Barbara had followed him to two countries and was planning to tag along to a third. His plan?
To escape to Budapest under the cover of darkness to avoid confronting her.
If this happens to you, have no fear – Brave New Traveler has outlined How to Escape An Undesirable Travel Mate.
Always trust your instincts and use common sense when using 13 tips for meeting other green travelers.
Benefits of Green Fitness Plogging
Have you heard of plogging?
It’s where you get fit and pick up litter at the same time.
This eco-conscious, green fitness trend combines the Swedish term, plocka upp, meaning “pick up,” with jogging.
We love anything to do with green living and green travel. And now there’s green fitness!
Popular in Europe, plogging originated in Scandinavia and is now making its way to the United States.
Joggers get all the cardio benefits of jogging with the added benefit of squatting to pick up litter along their route.
After picking up the litter, users carry it in bags while they jog.
There’s no right way to plog… you can carry the trash in a bag or put it in a lightweight, drawstring backpack to carry on your back.
You can choose to use a grabbing stick or gloves or decide only to pick up clean and “safe-looking” trash.
Of course, you would need to carry everything with you on your jog.
Anything you do while plogging helps your community and wildlife.
For even greater good, it’s important to recycle the plastic and other recyclables afterwards.
This increases the benefits of plogging even more.
Fitness App Tracks Green Fitness
To motivate ploggers even more, there’s a fitness and health app – Lifesum — that enables you to calculate just how many calories you will burn while plogging.
Typical results are similar to what you would burn while jogging. And think of all those squats!
With plogging, you get the feel good benefit to it as well. Soon, other fitness apps will sure to be offering a way to track plogging.
The organization, Keep America Beautiful, supports this trend.
There’s no need to wait until Earth Day when you can live green more often.
Green recreation: Plogging on the beach or anywhere
Those individuals lucky enough to live near the ocean have been doing this for years.
So many times I’ve been on a coastal vacation and was awed by a few joggers and walkers picking up garbage along the way.
Now that there’s an official name for it, there are sure to be people across the world picking up this eco-friendly habit.
Others will ask, “What is plogging?” and may be encouraged to pick up litter in walking clubs, etc.
Plogging sort of sounds like something along the lines of blogging or vlogging… but no!
Plogging has nothing to do with electronics of any kind.
It encourages us to get outside… to exercise.. and to do some good.
There are so many ways to live green and travel green… why not enjoy green fitness, and exercise green too?
Best UK Walking Cycling Holidays That Respect the Environment
UK Walking Cycling Holidays and trails are famous among enthusiasts all over the world.
Amazing landscape, long or short ways that are great, especially if you want to reduce your carbon footprint.
If you love to keep it green then the UK is a great place to enjoy walking and other outdoor activities, like watch sunset in London, whilst also being kind the environment.
But how do you plan a one-week backpacking holiday in the UK?
Here are some tips to plan the best environmentally friendly holiday in this beautiful place.
Environmentally friendly travel
If you follow the motto of leaving everything as you found it, then you are on your way to being kinder to the places you visit.
When on a walking holiday you need to think about your impact on your surroundings and there are a few things you can do to reduce this.
Travel in small groups and choose an operator that is environmentally responsible.
You should also bring your own water bottles and bags to reduce the amount of plastic waste and stick to the main paths to prevent interfering with the local plant and wildlife.
If you want to have the minimum affect on the place you are visiting then you should only use facilities and stay in places that have a benefit to the local community.
Sustainable tourism is also about supporting the local businesses.
Think about where you plan to stay and eat, steering towards establishments that are independently owned and run, meaning the profits stay in the local community.
The UK is full of walks, hikes and bike routes you can take to enjoy the beautiful countryside and coastlines.
Here are a few of the most popular routes you can take on an environmentally friendly walking or hiking holiday.
Hadrian’s Wall Walking Trail
This path crosses the country from East Coast to the West coast.
Starting at Wallsend, near Newcastle and ending at the Solway Coast.
The route of Hadrian’s Wall follows the line of the wall which was built by Roman emperor Hadrianus back in AD128 to protect the northern Roman Empire.
The walk can take between 3 and 8 days depending what route you take and which parts of the you want to take in.
It is 89 miles on the longest route between Tynemouth to Bowness on Solway.
Most of the route follows hilly countryside and moorlands without any mountainous terrain so it is classed as an easy to moderate walk.
It’s a great walk for beginners and those of limited ability as well as seasoned trekkers.
Highlights on the Hadrian’s wall route include the Roman wall at the Northumberland National Park, the Brocolitia Roman fort, the crags of Windshield and the remains of Great Chester’s Fort.
Find out more about the Hadrian’s wall walk here.
North Lakes Traverse Hike
With a full route of 42 miles, this hike will take you around five days walking 9 miles a day.
The whole route starts at Dockray near Keswick, circling the North West lakes and mountain routes to then return you to Keswick.
You’ll find some gorgeous views of the North lakes, beautiful lake shores, dramatic fells and mountain passes.
You will feel like you are in the middle of nowhere when you encounter some of the remote locations.
Deep valleys, wooded slopes, and high mountain passes are all included in this Cumbrian Lake district tour.
This route has little sign posting so you will have to rely on your map or your tour leader.
This makes the hike even more adventurous. Stay at local accommodations along the way with lovely helpful and friendly hosts.
Amazing Cycling Sea to Sea In The Spectacular Lake District
A classic long-distance cycle route starting from the historic port of Whitehaven on the Irish Sea to Tynemouth on the north east coast.
The amazing bike ride passes through the spectacular Lake District, the beautiful Eden Valley and the stunning Pennines.
The scenery is so varied it makes for a memorable and exciting cycling holiday.
From St Bees to Tynemouth is 144 miles and the route can be cycled in as little as 2 days and 3 nights.
However it can take up to 6 days if you reduce your cycling miles per day.
Choose from difficult mountain biking terrain t o the easier roads and cycleways, the choice is yours.
But of course, the more difficult and higher routes offer the greatest views.
You’ll need to be relatively fit to complete this journey and a keen biker.
Some of the terrain is tough and you’ll need some endurance to finish especially if you want to complete the route in a shorter duration.
But whichever trail you take, you will have a fantastic time.
Great Glen Way 73 Mile Trek
If you are up for a challenge then this 73-mile trek from Fort William to Inverness might be your cup of tea.
This striking landscape takes in canal towpaths, loch routes and forest paths and following the Caledonian Canal gives you an insight to the history of the area along the route.
To complete the walk in the 5 days you will need to be a fit individual and ready for plenty of walking per day.
Covering an average of around 15 miles per day.
The final day is the most challenging but also the most rewarding.
Explore high moorland, farmland and woodland, finishing at Ness Islands and the impressive setting of Inverness Castle.
Highlights of this route include Loch Lochy.
Loch Oich and Fort Augustus and also amazing views of the fantastic and famous Loch Ness.
If you want an additional challenge you might want to take an extra day here to climb Ben Nevis the highest mountain in Britain.
The Cotswolds Way Route
This exciting route follows 102 miles from the medieval market town of Chipping Campden located in the North Cotswolds, to the beautiful and historic city of Bath.
The route can take between 6 and 10 days depending on the route that you take but you will discover the beauty of this location no matter which route you decide on.
The terrain is varied but the areas are not mountainous so you can enjoy the fantastic walk over farmland, woods and hillside towards the south.
This National Trail is descried as relatively easy, clearly marked and a great route for people wanting to try their first long-distance trek.
Highlights include the hamlet of Church Stanway, the highest point of the trail at the edge of Cleeve Common and the historic architecture of the village of Painswick.
This route covered over a few days is an excellent addition to a city break in London.
It’s not too far away and if you have the time this is the perfect start to exploring the UK countryside.
Would you like to take an environmentally friendly friendly holiday in the UK?
As you can see there are lots of places you can enjoy the great outdoors in the UK and you can have that break being environmentally friendly too.
Choose your break reviewing the type of holiday you want and then find the best break for you.
Whichever place you choose (South Bank London) you are sure to have a fantastic walking or cycling break in the UK.
Backpacking South America is Diverse
While backpacking South America, it’s easy to get stuck on the big city route. The excitement and thrill of major cities like Buenos Aires,
Rio de Janeiro and Santiago are hard to resist.
But it’s important to remember that backpacking is so much more than seeing just the major sites.
Get out in the wild, push yourself out of your comfort-zone, and do something that you never thought you would dare to do.
South America has a great offer of green activities that are good for you and good for the environment.
I’ve collected a list of my five favorite activities in South America.
Hiking in South America has become world-famous because of the popularity around the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu.
However; it’s important that we remember the incredible size of the region and the other incredible hikes that fall in the shadow of the Inca Trail.
Why not try walking through the bush in the Pantanal, surrounded by alligators, anacondas and beautiful nature?
Or climb a 5000+ meter in Bolivia?
Hiking is a must-do when backpacking in South America.
Just remember that the best nature experiences are usually found off the “beaten path.”
Places like Peru and Bolivia, and South America in general, offer some of the best extreme sport activities in the world.
While countries in the western world do everything they can to shut down dangerous sport activity areas, South American countries do the opposite.
Extreme Mountain Biking is one of the new booms the last couple of years.
First class downhill bikes are being imported into the Andes Mountains, and as long as you wear a helmet, you can ride these extreme downhills.
Get ready for a thrill of a lifetime while you bike down from 5000 meters to 1000 meters above sea level, on bumpy South American roads.
The most famous mountain bike downhill lies in La Paz and is by many considered The World’s Most Dangerous Road, The Death Road.
In later years, traffic has been closed on the road, and it’s now considered fairly safe for mountain biking.
An adrenaline kick of a lifetime awaits you in the Andes!
Whitewater Rafting & Canoeing
You must look long and hard to find another activity that can match the powerful feeling of challenging nature’s wrath like rafting does.
For those who do not know what rafting is, it’s basically setting off into a small boat made out of plastic at the top of a mountain river, and then trying to navigate yourself down from the mountain with waves and rocks as obstacles.
Organized rafting tours are generally safer than going out on your own.
You can also rent a kayak and navigate a variety of rivers.
Surfing has really transcended the globe over the last years.
The surfing lifestyle that comes with the sport fits South America perfectly.
Today you can find numerous spots all over South America where hitting waves and relaxing on the beach is the way of living.
The most famous surf spots are found in Brazil and Peru.
You can even find good surf-spots in central Rio on the famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.
However, the most eager prefer to travel south to the beautiful city of Florianopolis.
Make time while backpacking South America to fit in volunteering, as this one is too important to forget.
Over the last several years, nature has struck South America multiple times.
Recall the land slides in Peru and the 8.8 earthquake in Chile.
The natural catastrophes have left cities and people’s home in ruins.
By volunteering you can help build up shelter villages for the families in need of a home.
It’s also a great way to get to know the locals. It is a wonderful way to give back.
Volunteering is social, good exercise and a really good life experience!
Experience Backpacking South America
It is truly a once in a lifetime experience to enjoy backpacking South America.
There is much to see in do as you get to experience the culture, food, and wonderful people here.
And it is most likely less expensive than you think to backpack some great cities in South America.
Backpacking South America was written in part by Ben Kvamstad who daily works as an editor for Backpack South America. You can find more of Ben’s work over at his Travel Blog: VagaBen.
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