How to Embrace Leave No Trace Principles When You Travel

As outdoor lovers, sleeping bag slumber-ers, mountain addicts, and dirty girls that just want to play outside, we’re all familiar with embracing Leave No Trace Principles when we are out getting our wilderness fix.

How to travel responsibly and sustainably

Our deep love and reverence for our favorite surf spots, the mountain ranges we call Home, our local trails we sprint to after work, and our beloved community crags keep us mindful of our impact on our environment.

We bring our titanium utensils, biodegradable soap, pack out our trash, and we’re mindful not to disturb the land or it’s native critters.

But what about when we travel? Are we just as prepared to respect and protect the natural land and it’s inhabitants we are visiting?Tourism places high demands on natural resources through over consumption of water and other precious reserves, often in places where these resources are already limited.

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Can we shift our perspective from simply being a tourist that is busy doing and seeing all the things to a conscientious adventurer? Travel can be a powerful life experience that expands our perspective of humanity and this planet we all share as our one and only home. It can also be, and usually is, an extremely waste producing and environmentally damaging industry.

Guess how many tourist arrivals there are globally every year?

1.4 billion.

1.4 freakin’ billion!

That’s 30 every single second. This number is projected to more than double by next year.

Let’s take a look at the Leave No Trace principles and explore how we can embrace them when traveling:

The Seven Leave No Trace Principles

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of other visitors.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare.

Tap into the mindset you approach the trail with. Gear check!

Have you done some research to see if there is a way you can avoid consuming plastic water bottles? Is there a water refill station in town?

Do you have your utensils, food container, water bottle, coffee/tea cup?

Imagine you don’t have the convenience of using single-use plastic when you want to have a cup of coffee or buy some street food.

Oh, and don’t forget your steel straw for drinking coconuts and a tote bag for shopping at local outdoor markets!

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.

This principle is all about keeping your travel footprint sustainable. Literally.

Traveling by land has a much smaller carbon footprint per passenger than flying.

If you are traveling from one part of the country to another, consider traveling by bus or train if you can afford the time.

It’s also cheaper and gives you opportunity to see so much more.

Travel alaska by train
Here’s just one of the epic views I had the pleasure of delighting in when traveling Alaska by train.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly.

Do your best to not to create waste because you are a fucking eco-conscious superhero with your non-toxic, fair trade, organic natural fiber cape billowing in the unpolluted wind.

But when you do have waste be mindful of where you dispose of it.

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Is it hazardous to the feral dogs or monkeys that you know will be rummaging through that trash pile later tonight?

Moral of the story: The local animals will eat what they can get which is often trash. This is why it’s so important that we dispose of our waste properly.

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Are you on an island that has to pay money to transport their waste to the mainland?

Can you compile your trash from the last few days into a bag you can carry out yourself?

4. Leave What You Find.

I could drop the “take only pictures” line here but at it’s core this principle is all about visiting a place without going in and suddenly fucking shit up that has been there for centuries.

Respect the culture of the country you are visiting. Coming in and waving your “I’m so special so I’m going to do things this way” flag is straight up disrespectful.

Do a little research about your destination and the cultural traditions before you head out. You’ll be ready to play and be so welcomed by the locals when you show respect for their culture.

Be considerate by learning some basic phrases in the native language. Even if you totally massacre it, people will appreciate you trying! This has always gone a long way for me.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts.

Minimize all your impacts.

Single-use sucks. Bring your own containers and get down on some local grubbery!

Consider if the products you are using are causing trouble.

Is your sunscreen killing the coral reef in your tropical surfing paradise?

Is your deet bug repellant harming the marine life in your tropical climbing getaway?

Also, don’t go around starting fires where it’s not appropriate. It’s just weird. Unless you’re fire dancing, then that’s another story.

6. Respect Wildlife.

Many establishments claim to be “sanctuaries” or “conservation centers” offering education and conservation but primarily operate as tourist attractions.

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Wildlife is meant to be wild.

Elephants are not here to be ridden by humans or paint pictures for your amusement, tigers are not photographic props, and bears don’t want to perform a dance for you.

Do your homework before handing over your money. The wildlife thanks you.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors.

Be kind, yo!

Ultimately, we all visitors to this big, round rock and there’s no refunds or exchanges.

Be kind to other visitors, the local people, animals, land, and culture by considering how you can use Leave No Trace Principles into your epic ass world adventures.

Want to remember this for later? Pin this to your favorite travel board!

How to travel sustainably
Travel responsibly with leave no trace principles
Travel responsibly with leave no trace
Travel sustainably with leave no trace
Travel responsibly with leave no trace

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