Setting off on an exciting backpacking trip for several months can be a great way to experience other cultures and ways of life in some exotic destinations. However, an increasing number of travellers are concerned about the impact budget travelling can have on the environment so we’ve taken a look at some great ways to lighten your conscience and minimise your carbon footprint whilst on the road.

green travelWhether you’re planning a multi-stop backpacking jaunt around the world or a short city break to a European capital, one of biggest factors affecting your carbon footprint is the mode of transport you choose!

For certain long-haul destinations, such as New Zealand and Australia, you will have little choice but to fly but air transport can make a significant contribution to your carbon footprint, especially if you’re travelling on round the world tickets. As airlines and passengers have become increasingly aware of carbon emissions, you will now find many carriers offer the option to ‘offset’ the emissions your travels create by making a donation to support environmental initiatives. Pioneering websites such as carbonfootprint.com offer innovative ways to offset those nasty emissions.

Such a contribution could mean you help fund the planting of trees or production of solar panels, allowing you to do your bit for the planet. However, if you’re looking to travel to destinations that are a little closer to home, continental Europe for instance, consider alternative methods of travel than flying.

It is possible to reach mainland Europe by ferry and train, with both options proving to be less environmentally damaging than air travel. Perhaps you’re looking to take in countries such as Portugal, Spain and France during a backpacking trip and if you’re keen to do with environmental issues in mind, you may want to purchase an international rail pass. Check out seat61.com for the best passes available.

Doing so can take care of all your transport needs from country-to-country in one go and as you arrive at the train station of your next destination, you should be in a central position where you do not have to travel far to find your hotel or see the main tourist sights. No expensive shuttles from the airport with train travel.

Using public transport will also result in fewer emissions, but you’ll find interacting with the locals is far easier and far more frequent when choosing the likes of trains, trams and buses! Hiring a bike or walking when you’ve arrived in your destination can also provide you with a green form of transport to see the sights, while also getting some exercise at the same time.

green travel ideasBut there are other areas to bear in mind when it comes to being eco-friendly while backpacking. The chances are you’ll have packed a number of battery-run gadgets in your luggage, such as a digital camera, mobile phone and iPod. As these will need powering up on a regular basis, why not purchase a charger that runs on solar energy as opposed to being plugged into the mains?

This helps to reduce the amount of electricity you use and can be a handy way to charge your gadgets on the go, for example if you’re on a train where there are no spare plug sockets close at hand.

Similarly, torches and radios that are powered by winding them up are an ideal green option. As they do not require batteries, you don’t have to be worried that using these gadgets will increase your carbon footprint.

To keep emissions low while travelling give some thought to the food you eat and any souvenirs you buy. Eat regionally sourced seasonal produce and purchase goods from local businesses wherever possible. This will have a double benefit of reducing ‘food miles’ whilst you contribute to the local economy and get to enjoy the tastes of locally produced dishes.

With a little forward planning and a spot of big picture thinking, it is possible to go on a great backpacking trip without harming mother earth too much in the process.

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