Backpacking is a fun and inexpensive way to see some of the world's most beautiful and hidden destinations. Be conscious of your impact on your next backpacking adventure! Remember these green travel tips and you'll find that budget-friendly and eco-friendly go together quite nicely.
1. Stash your trash – This might seem obvious to some, but a plastic bag for garbage might be the most important thing to keep on your person at all times while backpacking. Garbage cans are not readily available in most of the remote places of the world, or on that $3 bus you hopped on to travel across Central America. You'll need somewhere to stash those food wrappers, tissues, and whatever else you might need to toss until you find a suitable receptacle.
2. Buy local – Whether its food, souvenirs, hostels, or tour guides, buy your goods and services from local businesses. Eat in local restaurants and attend local events, such as festivals and street fairs. Do your research and make sure your accommodations and tour companies are owned by local people. Which brings me to my next point...
3. Avoid aggressive haggling – A little haggling is appropriate and sometimes even expected in some places, but don't get carried away. Yes, you're on a budget, but that extra dollar or two probably means a lot more to that local vendor than it does to you. A good strategy is to ask an employee at your lodge or hostel what a fair price is for what you want to buy, so you know what to expect beforehand.
4. Waste not – Try not to buy more food than you can eat in one sitting, as you might not have access to refrigerator to store leftovers when you're on the go. Buy non-perishable food that you can save for later, or offer extra food to a fellow backpacker.
5. Take public transport – It's cheaper, more adventurous, and better for the environment! Instead of taking taxis around town, decipher the city's bus or rail system, look into renting a bicycle, or walk. Take a bus or train to get to your next destination instead flying or renting a car.
6. Minimize water bottles – Tap water is not drinkable in many developing countries, but you can still try to minimize the amount of water bottles you buy as much as possible. Your hostel will likely have a source of filtered water in the common area, so try to fill up for the day before you leave. If there's a teapot or coffeemaker available, boil some tap water in advance and you'll have a pot full of free drinking water. Another option is buying a lightweight water purifier, such as an ultraviolet light purifier or a pack of chlorine dioxide tablets.
Know any more great tips for green backpacking that we missed? Comment and let us know!