Tom from Much Better Adventures spills the beans on how to make your gap year greener…
‘Sustainability’ is one of those buzz words which ain’t going nowhere. We all know what it means, the majority of us know it’s something we should think about and it impacts on travel so much… But how can you implement it on the life-affirming journey that is your gap year?
Travel has a bit of a bad rep when it comes to sustainability – long-haul flights, excessive consumption and (often unseen) exploitation of local people.
Don’t worry though – there is another way – gap year travel really can be sustainable. Here are a few tips to make your gap year ‘much better’…
1: A Balancing Act
Going travelling in a gap year gives you the opportunity to try and million and one things which everyday life doesn’t throw at you. Some of them may not be the most ‘sustainable’ activities (sky diving, for example), but there’s no point in getting all fanatical about saving every ounce of CO2. Enjoy yourself, and where possible, make the sustainable choice.
Don’t want to follow the crowd? Then don’t join one! Cycle, jump on a horse or even walk – exploring an area at a slower pace means you really get under the skin of it. Getting in some sweaty tour bus isn’t going to show you the real [insert whatever destination it is here]…
3: Become a Local
Ok, so this might actually be impossible, unless you move there permanently, but what we mean is seek out the places locals go. It’s very easy to just follow the tourist crowd to the identikit hostel, or to McDonalds, but you’re never going to get a ‘real’ experience. Go where the locals go, support local businesses and travel with local operators. This way you get a far more original, unique experience, and the money you spend stays in the community instead of some fat-cat’s pocket.
4: Give Back
It may seem convoluted, but by travelling you can help sustainability. Sustainability isn’t just about pollution, it’s about people, economies and experiences too. So if you’ve just pumped a couple of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, claw back some of the harm by helping out at a conservation project, volunteer as a teacher, or just spend your money in the community.
5: Buck the Trend
The journey can be part of the adventure. Instead of flying, why not look at overlanding? Long distance busses, hitch-hiking or even taking a container ship across the oceans are all experiences you’ll never forget. I can’t remember much about the last long-haul flight I took, but I could wax lyrical about the 2 days on a ferry between Shanghai and Osaka five years ago…
6: Carbon Offsetting
This is a funny one, there are many proponents and many opponents for carbon offsetting – the idea that you can ‘buy’ a fix for your pollution. We’ve done a chunk of research into it ourselves and think we’ve found the best solution. Use our carbon calculator and then consider a donation to UK charity the Converging World where your money will go further. Find out more here.
7: Take Your Good Habits with You
If you’re already recycling, switching off the lights, composting and not littering, why act differently on holiday? If the facilities are there, use them!
8: … and Come Back with More!
Perhaps the best inspiration for preserving the world in which we live comes from experiencing it in the first place. If you’re out there enjoying it, we’ll put money on you coming back even more inspired to protect it.
So, if you’re looking for an adventure, and want to stick with local, independent and ethical operators, you’ll need to know where to look for them! Much Better Adventures only feature companies who work on these principals, so check them out!
Have you got any tips for travelling greener? Share them below…