Sustainable travel is at the forefront of 2020’s travel trends. At Lalibela, where conservation and sustainability are at the forefront of what we do, we couldn’t be happier! Sustainable travel can sound intimidating, but with a few simple changes and conscious decisions, you can be sustainable traveller in no time.

The more sustainable travellers, the more we ensure the protection of our beautiful and wonderful planet.

1. Choose your destination wisely.

One of the easiest ways to support sustainable travel is to visit a green destination. A green destination is a country or area working towards the conservation and protection of the planet. Such as by means of combatting climate change, protecting wildlife, or uplifting local communities.

By visiting a green destination, you are supporting and contributing towards sustainability.

2. Pack consciously.

Although there is nothing more exciting than buying a new holiday wardrobe, it can contribute to unnecessary waste. Buying brand new things that you are likely only to wear while on holiday (yes, we’re talking about special safari clothing) leads to an unnecessary increase in production and becomes a pricey exercise.

If you do need to buy a few new things, go about it practically and buy things that you know you’ll wear regularly.

Packing lightly is also an easy sustainable travel trick. Baggage restrictions may be an irritation but they are actually a way to lower carbon emissions – heavier planes use more fuel and therefore leave a bigger carbon footprint.

A few tips for packing lightly:

  • Use an app to help you pack efficiently and plan your packing in advance.
  • Pack multi-purpose clothing that you can wear for a variety of occasions.
  • Avoid heavy items, such as hair straighteners.
  • Opt for travel-size toiletries.
  • Pack a Kindle or e-reader instead of books.

3. Avoid single-use plastic.

Plastic is not fantastic! One of the biggest ecological crises we’re facing as a planet is the excessive use of plastic. At Lalibela we have stopped using single-use plastics. It is quite easy to implement when you travel:

  • Pack a bamboo, metal or glass straw
  • Use a reusable water bottle
  • Take a reusable bag for shopping
  • Use zero waste toiletries if possible

4. Choose sustainable travel options.

Flight-shame is a term we are hearing more regularly as climate change activists look to promote more sustainable methods of travel. Of course, flying cannot always be avoided but flying direct will lower your carbon footprint. Where possible try travel by train or public transport.

5. Travel slowly.

Slow travel is a growing sustainable travel trend. It is the concept of reducing your travel pace and focusing on immersing yourself in one destination or the journey itself. A self-drive road trip along the Garden Route to Lalibela is the perfect slow travel opportunity and well worth it with the breathtaking scenery and stops along the way.

6. Choose your accommodation wisely. 

The accommodation you choose for your holiday can be a big factor impacting on your travel eco-footprint. Choose a hotel, guest house or safari lodge that upholds eco-friendly practices – solar power, recycling, greywater systems, a plastic-free approach. This means that your stay won’t have a negative impact on the planet and you’re supporting a business that works towards sustainability.

7. Make ethical wildlife decisions.

Avoid any tour or activity that involves hands-on activities with an animal, such as riding an elephant or petting a lion. These may seem like once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but these animals have been removed from the wild and are often mistreated to keep them docile for tourists. There really is nothing more special than seeing an animal in its natural habitat, they are wild animals, not tourist attractions.

8. Give back consciously.

Many tourists who visit developing countries often, very generously and in the spirit of sustainable travel, bring donations for the local communities. This is always appreciated but can lead to a surplus of items that the community does not need, or conflict over who receives the gifts. If you are wanting to bring donations, research beforehand a charity or organisation through which to do this. If you are going on safari, many safari lodges have community outreach programmes, such as pack with a purpose, in place. You can then work with your safari lodge to see what the community needs and how to go about the donations. Read about ours here.

9. Use eco-friendly products.

Switching out your products for cruelty-free, environmentally friendly alternatives (if you have not already done so) is a simple act yet carries deep impact for conserving our planet. Choosing something like reef-friendly sunscreen or eco-friendly insect repellent ensures you don’t leave any damage on your surrounding environment – sustainable travel 101!

10. Raise a generation of sustainable travelers.

For all parents and future parents, one of the most important things you can do for sustainable travel is to teach it to your children. If they learn how to travel responsibly, the world will have a generation of travellers where eco-friendly and sustainable travel practices come second nature.