Sustainable Travel

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It 

All Travel Carries A Cost

Info replaces Energy

Permaculture is a lifestyle, not just a philosophy. Wherever you are: you can practice Permaculture. Most of us today find it very challenging to be environmentally responsible whilst travelling because all travel bears a cost. Knowing the true cost of our choices and accepting responsibility for our impact is a major step towards finding sustainable solutions.

  • Travel consumes energy just to move from one place to another. We could walk but there are few safe walking trails from town to town, only in remote places (which is a good option but you still have to get to the boundary)
  • Travel involves other people who supply your food and lodging, information and medical support.
  • There is limited access to Recycling
  • Less opportunity for composting our waste
  • Little or no opportunity to grow food or produce things or offer services in exchange for the travel experience.


Benefits of Travel

  • Acknowledge our place in a global context.
  • Build peace through understanding.
  • Learn technologies from current and ancient examples.
  • Encourage others and sharing our knowledge.

Knowing what can be achieved through the travel experience helps us achieve sustainable travel.
For example, if we know that sustainable travel requires interaction between fellow travelers and the people we are visiting, then we will choose accommodation that has shared facilities (kitchens, bathrooms, lounge) where our chances of meeting others in increased.

snail borderedIdeas for Sustainable Travel

  • Walk to get around. Today it is easy to walk, there is luggage with both wheels and back straps. Walking is quieter, the air is cleaner and we have time to stop to meet people and smell the roses. Prepare well. Before you embark on a major journey, organise a 3 day hike starting at your own front step.  You may decide to walk to the next city or somewhere away from civilisation. Most journeys can be accomplished with a little planning. Planning is an essential tool for sustainable living because not planning results in waste. Your journey can have walks of 11km per day and you can book lodgings ahead of time and if you don’t make it all the way, organise to catch a bus or train. What is the point in whizzing around? Do we do fast journeys simply because we can? Who is the traveller – you or the technology?
  • Arrange a swap or work-accomodation exchange so that you can be productive, helping on their site whilst learning about life in another place.
  • Talk to the locals. You will learn a lot more as you travel if you talk to the locals and don’t just look at objects, monuments and landscapes. In fact, you could be looking at something far more interesting if you ask a local what to look for.
  • Stay where you can cook most of your meals, preferably in a communal kitchen where you get to meet others and learn how they cook.
  • Buy fresh seasonal fruit and veg that grow locally, try new foods – this is all part of the experience. Shop where the locals shop for food because you learn about their food culture, their cost of living and new flavours.
  • Share your transport, food and other resources with other travellers.
  • Stay in places that support shared resources, recycling of waste, and helping out – this helps them to stay in business as well as meeting some of your responsibilities. It also encourages other places to be sustainable.
  • Stay where you can meet others and give them items you have spare such as books you have read, equipment you no longer need, wholefoods that are in perfect order but too heavy to lug home.
  • Recycle your clothes by looking for places to leave them. Good places to leave clothes are in collection bays at churches. Sometimes, you may just have to take a risk and leave warm coats or sturdy boots in a church doorway rather than throw them away.
  • Pack things to take that you can leave there as a novelty to the locals. This reduces your luggage for the flight home, shares resources and gives the host country a small cultural gift.
  • Learn more about Permaculture Principles and how to apply them in many different ways.