Sustainable Travel

Resources and advice to help you move around the world while maintaining your connection to it in a responsible way.

What is Eco-Tourism & Why It Matters

What is Eco-Tourism & Why It Matters

Woman's hand holding a bundle of white and green wildflowers

As climate change and environmental issues continue to gain more attention, many travelers are seeking ways to minimize their impact while exploring new destinations. One form of sustainable tourism that has gained popularity in recent years is eco-tourism, but what is eco-tourism, and how can you incorporate it into your plans?

Traveling around the world offers a perfect opportunity to observe our relationship with the environment, and how humans exist in our natural world. Eco-tourism is a type of travel that focuses on preserving the natural environment, supporting local communities, and understanding how our decisions impact everything else around us. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss what eco-tourism is, why it’s important, and how you can practice it on your next adventure!

What is Eco-Tourism?

Eco-tourism is a form of sustainable tourism that promotes responsible travel and environmental conservation. It involves supporting local communities, and visiting natural areas while minimizing the impact on the environment. 

Eco-tourism aims to promote sustainable tourism practices and reduce the negative impact of tourism on the environment and locals. This includes minimizing carbon emissions, reducing waste, conserving water, and supporting local economies. 

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"Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education"

Myths & Misconceptions

1. Eco-Tourism is Expensive

While some eco-tourism experiences may be more expensive than traditional tourism, there are also many affordable options available. Eco choices don’t necessarily mean they are a luxury. For example, taking an authentic cooking class with a local family can be more affordable than a fancy dinner at a modern restaurant, and many eco-friendly transport options are also more affordable! 

2. Eco-Tourism is Only For outdoorsy people

While it’s true that many eco-tourism experiences involve outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, or wildlife spotting, eco-tourism is not limited to the most adventurous travelers. Some eco-friendly accommodations and activities cater to all types of travelers, including families, couples, and solo travelers. 

3. Eco-Tourism is Only For Nature Lovers

Eco-tourism experiences often involve visiting natural areas, but they also provide opportunities to learn about local cultures, traditions, and communities. Eco-tourism can be a great way to experience a destination’s culture and history while also promoting sustainable travel practices. Indoor eco-tourism activities could be taking a cooking class, watching a traditional dance, 

4. Eco-Tourism is only in Remote Destinations

While many eco-tourism experiences are located in remote areas, there are also many urban eco-tourism experiences available! For example, visiting a city’s green spaces and botanical gardens, and getting involved with sustainable food is also considered eco-tourism. You don’t need to be in a remote jungle to experience eco-tourism, there are natural and cultural experiences available everywhere!

5. Eco-Tourism is Not Comfortable

While there are some eco-tourism experiences that involve rustic accommodations and outdoor activities, they don’t have to! For example, eco-lodges offer comfortable and luxurious amenities, just with an emphasis on natural materials and resources or resource conservation. The level of comfort you are seeking in eco-tourism depends on your budget and personal desires, but there is always something that fits everyone’s wants and needs!

6. Eco-Tourism is Not Safe

Like any form of travel, there are risks associated with eco-tourism experiences. However, reputable eco-tourism operators prioritize the safety of their guests and provide necessary safety equipment and guidance for outdoor activities.

It is also important to remember that nature is wild, and you should maintain a safe distance and awareness while in natural environments at all times.

Tip - It is important to remember that nature is wild, and you should maintain a safe and respectful distance and sense of awareness while in natural environments,

Why is Eco-Tourism Important?

Eco-tourism is important for several reasons. First, it promotes environmental conservation efforts and helps to preserve natural areas. By encouraging responsible travel practices, eco-tourism helps to reduce the negative impact on the environment, including deforestation, habitat destruction, and pollution.

Eco-tourism also supports local communities by creating jobs and providing economic opportunities. By supporting local businesses and services, travelers can contribute to the local economy and help to sustain local cultures and traditions. Not only does it support the local economy, but eco-tourism can also help to preserve cultural traditions and heritage!

Finally, eco-tourism allows travelers to experience the natural beauty of a destination while minimizing their impact on the environment. By choosing eco-friendly travel options, travelers can enjoy a unique and authentic experience while promoting sustainable tourism practices. 

Since eco-tourism is engaged with the natural environment of a place, it offers opportunities to learn and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the natural world. 

How Can You Practice Eco-Tourism?

1. Eco-Friendly Accommodation

When planning your trip, consider staying at eco-lodges, hotels that have implemented sustainable practices, or other eco-friendly accommodation options. These accommodations often have green certifications and use environmentally-friendly practices, such as renewable energy, water conservation, and waste reduction.

While some lodgings offer a wildlife experience or nature tours, it is important for the consumer (yes that’s you!), to do research into the company to verify it does promote environmental stewardship. Anyone anywhere can say something is ‘eco-‘, ‘sustainable’, or any other greenwashing word!

2. Support Local Businesses

One of the core principles of eco-tourism is to support local communities. When traveling, consider purchasing locally-made products, using local services, and participating in cultural activities. This can help to sustain local economies and preserve cultural traditions! I get it, you can’t always choose the most local, organic product there is, but even having a conscious thought about it will push the needle!

3. Visit Natural Areas

Eco-tourism often involves being in nature, which includes visiting national parks, wildlife reserves, and other protected areas. This brings in money for the region to continue preservation and educational efforts!

When visiting these areas, it’s important to respect the environment and follow responsible travel practices, such as staying on designated trails and minimizing waste! Always carry in, carry out, and Leave No Trace.

4. Choose Eco-Friendly Transportation

When traveling, consider using public transportation, walking, or cycling instead of driving or flying. These transportation options can help reduce carbon emissions and minimize your impact on the environment. If you do need to drive, try to carpool as much as possible, or use less-intensive transport options like a motorbike or electric vehicle.

When you can’t avoid gas-guzzling transport options, you can offset the carbon emissions by purchasing a carbon credit! Many transportation tickets offer the consumer an added fee to offset the contributed emissions directly, or you can make payment voluntarily to Climate Trade.

5. Learn about the Local Environment

Eco-tourism has a huge emphasis on the natural environment and local ecosystems, which involves learning about them! Consider joining a guided tour or participating in educational programs to learn about the local flora and fauna, and how to protect them. 

Also, the best way to learn about the natural environment is to talk to the locals! Ask the people that have been living in an area what they have seen change over the years, and what the greatest threats to local biodiversity are. Climate change is impacting everyone differently around the world, so take some time to ask the people that experience it the closest.

6. Reduce Waste

When traveling, it’s important to minimize waste and reduce your environmental impact. This includes using a reusable water bottle, carrying a reusable shopping bag, and avoiding single-use plastics. Some eco-friendly accommodations also provide eco-friendly amenities and encourage guests to conserve resources, but you should be prepared with your own utensils and reusable solutions!

7. Volunteer

There are so many ways for travelers to give back and participate in conservation efforts or community projects. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the local community and support conservation while meeting people and getting a hands-on appreciation and understanding of the local environment. 

Many volunteer programs will offer food and accommodation for your time supporting a project! This is not only a great eco-tourism option, but also a perfect solution to those traveling on a budget.

8. Choose Responsible Tour Operators

When booking tours or activities, choose tour operators that promote responsible travel practices and sustainable tourism. Look for tour operators that have eco-friendly certifications or have implemented sustainable practices in their operations.

Another way to practice is through Slow Travel. Check out these articles on What Is Slow Travel, and A Guide To Your Slow Travel Dream Life!

Summary - What is Eco-Tourism & Why It Matters

Eco-tourism is a sustainable form of tourism that promotes responsible travel and environmental conservation. By choosing eco-friendly travel options, supporting local communities, and minimizing your impact on the environment, you can incorporate eco-tourism into your travel plans and contribute to sustainable tourism practices. 

With the growing concern for environmental issues and sustainable travel, eco-tourism is becoming an increasingly popular travel option for those who want to explore new destinations while preserving the natural environment and supporting local communities. 

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Sustainable Travel, 0 comments
What Is Slow Travel: Sustainable Tips For Mindful Trips

What Is Slow Travel: Sustainable Tips For Mindful Trips

In today’s fast-paced world, many of us are guilty of rushing from one destination to another, without taking the time to truly appreciate the experiences along the way. Slow travel is a recent trend that seems like it’s here to stay. But what is slow travel, who is it for, and how can everyone incorporate it into their expeditions? 

Slow travel, an emerging trend that emphasizes the importance of immersing oneself in the journey, encourages travelers to forge a deeper connection with the places they explore. 

This blog will explore the benefits of slow travel and offer the benefits of slow travel and offer helpful tips for adopting a slow travel mindset that is consistent with the principles of sustainable and responsible travel. 

White woman in a white linen shirt and skirt holding a small bouquet of wildflowers

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What is Slow Travel?

We’ve all heard of Slow Fashion – the movement to prioritize quality and ethical fashion purchases over cheap fast fashion brands. And even Slow Food – the movement away from low-quality fast food and towards sustainable whole food options to fuel your body.

Both Slow Fashion and Slow Food are focused on things you PURCHASE. What about the things you EXPERIENCE?

Isn’t a quality use of your time the ultimate goal in life, since it is so preciously limited? Well, Slow Travel is finally making its way into the ‘trends’ of society, and it seems like it’s here to stay. Slow Travel isn’t a strict schedule of how long to stay somewhere, it is a mindset. The mindset to be present, to be open to new experiences and perspectives, and to be 

For me – slow travel is a mindset centered around sustainability, being present, being open, and trusting the flow of life. I believe when you allow the flow of life to happen without force or pushback, it takes you exactly where you should be. 

"Slow travel may mean different things to different travelers, but I define it as staying in one place for longer and going deeper into the local culture. It’s taking the time to make real connections with locals versus jam-packing a schedule full of tours. It’s staying in Kyoto at a Ryokan instead of city hopping throughout Asia."

Who Is Slow Travel For?

Since Slow Travel is a mindset, it can be done by everyone at any time. You don’t need to sell everything you own to travel full time to take on slow travel. Even if you only have 10 days off of work for a getaway vacation, you too can slow travel!

Slow travel seems to be emerging as so many people find remote work opportunities. It is also well-timed with a new generation of people entering the workforce – a generation filled with dreamers and doers who can’t stop asking big-picture questions and trying to find the meaning behind life. 

I felt it myself – I was working a stressful Corporate Sustainability job for years, and while I felt my role had an impact, I was sacrificing a lot of my personal time and freedom. I gave up a part of myself, and at 26 years old, I felt that the next 40 years of that wouldn’t be satisfactory for me. 

There is so much to see in the world, and while I was fortunate enough to travel full-time in a very slow way, anyone can do it, even if you still work in the office!

Thankfully we all have perks from working, and a big one is vacation time. You have the power to use your time off differently to reconnect with your environment and yourself.

In short, slow travel is for remote workers, new families, people working 9-5 jobs, people in a gap year, retirees, teachers on summer break…literally everyone!

If you’re not sure why you should change the way you think about travel, here are a few reasons.

 

Fast Travel

  • Strict plan to optimize time
  • Stressed thinking about the next plan
  • No time to meet locals
  • Does what all other tourists do
  • Doesn’t usually make lasting connections
  • Expensive splurge of sight-seeing
  • No time to rest, time is limited and planned
  • Emission-intensive transportation
  • Enjoys comfortable travel
  • Tourist” = Sees a place

Slow Travel

  • Flexible plan to optimize time
  • Ability to be present in each moment, no stress
  • Pursuit of conversations with locals
  • Receives off-the-path suggestions
  • Makes intimate and lasting connections
  • Well-paced adventures, without huge expenses
  • Time for rest and reflection
  • Slow transportation = less emissions = cheaper
  • Enjoys authentic travel
  • Traveler” = Experiences a place

1. Builds a Strong Connection

Traveling with a focus on awareness and being present inevitably will slow you down. It is too much for someone to see a dozen things in a few days, and be able to be fully engaged with all of them. You will never be able to see everything in the world, and even if you could, would you truly experience them?

You can think of slow travel as reducing the radius one tries to ‘see’, and instead focusing on thoroughly experiencing the few things that are done in the given time. If someone is focused on seeing it all, then they will be so concerned with what they think should be seen, that they miss everything in between.

Engaging in mindful and slow travel creates opportunities to develop deeper connections with the world, yourself, and the people you meet along the way.

2. You See the world Differntly

One of the main advantages of slow travel is the opportunity it provides to fully immerse yourself in the local culture. By spending more time in a single location, you can gain a better understanding of the customs, traditions, and daily life of the people who call that place home. You meet locals, share their traditions and practices, and understand how other people live in this world. 

It is not even possible to put into words how this opens your perspective and shifts your thoughts about what it means to be a human. Our understanding of life is shaped by what we are exposed to, and slow travel allows you to develop a deeper appreciation and broaden your perspective on alternative ways and values.

 

3. You Learn About Yourself

Slow travel can also have a positive impact on your mental and physical well-being. Taking the time to disconnect from the daily grind, unwind, and fully engage with your surroundings can help promote mindfulness and allow you to get in touch with your intuitive self.

Also, by putting yourself in new and unfamiliar circumstances, you allow yourself to grow and change. There is a unique release of pressure when you travel long-term. We all have this feeling that we need to be the way that people think we are, but that limits our ability to change freely. It puts us in a box of who we should be, through other people’s eyes. 

How do you present yourself to new people? How do you talk about your life and where you come from? When you meet people from all over the world, it offers the chance to introduce yourself and your life influences. Imagine if you didn’t see people you know every day. Nobody around you has any expectations of how you ‘should’ be. What would you do differently? 

Maybe that would be freeing and terrifying at the same time, but growth never comes when we stay in our comfort zone. 

4. You Make Forever Friends

There is a special connection that is made between long-term travelers. When everyone can relate to the same thing – the thing that is such a major transitional point in your life – that unites you. Suddenly you’re on the other side of the world following your dreams. Maybe you just left your family for the first time, or maybe you don’t know where to call home anymore.

Everyone that is traveling can relate to that, offer support, and experience that beautiful life together. You engage in meaningful conversation as you are constantly in a state of awareness and openness.

5. Reduces Stress

When you limit your time you inevitably put stress on it – to experience everything, to enjoy it all, and to see enough. However, when you travel slowly, you take all of the stress out of traveling since you allow yourself time to get comfortable and go with the flow. 

Think about when you go on a 2-week vacation to a foreign country. You have to think about the customs and cultures, the food they eat, the dangers that may exist, the weather, the cost, and the people… I’m already overwhelmed! If you only give yourself a few weeks in a place (or worse – a few days), it is a complete overload of things to think about!

Now picture arriving in a place that you may be in for months. You don’t know if you packed everything you need if you’ll like the food options, or know any of the local languages. But, you have given yourself time to figure it all out as it needs to be. 

When you travel slowly, you are allowed to take a few days to settle into a new location. You allow yourself to move at a pace that is comfortable for you, and you don’t put too much pressure on planning!

We’ve all been there where you plan an awesome adventure or activity, and it is completely not what you anticipated. However, when you’re not in a rush to “see it all”, you can go with the flow and make the most of it! 

6. Positive Environmental Impacts

As you travel around the world – or even at home – you will become aware of the current state of the natural world. You will see species disappear from a region, extreme changes in weather, and plastic waste sprinkled through an otherwise natural landscape. 

However, when you take a step back and think about the whole picture of why that is, you start to see how every human decision is linked to one uniting system. Nothing in this world happens in a vacuum, especially when it involves traveling to the other side of the planet!

When you travel fast, you take quick flights that emit a crazy amount of greenhouse gases, to arrive at a resort that is right on the beach, or deep in the jungle. When you allow yourself more time to move around, you open more possibilities to navigate the world. By using public transportation, walking, or cycling instead of relying on carbon-intensive methods of transport, you’re actively contributing to the preservation of the planet for future generations. 

When you travel fast, you leave a wake of negative impact in your path. You don’t experience life like a local, and you don’t stay long enough to see the impact of how you exist in a place. Traveling at a slower pace and prioritizing local, sustainable activities, and accommodations can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. 

7. Save Money with Slow Travel

Racing around to do everything there is to do can be both tiring and expensive. When you travel slowly, you’re less concerned about seeing the ‘must-see’ places in an area, because you learn that there is so much to see that isn’t what everyone else is waiting in line for.

Traveling at a slower pace can be a more budget-conscious option. By spending more time in one location, you can often find better deals on accommodations and take advantage of lower-cost local experiences.

There are also potential cost savings with transportation. When you travel slowly, you aren’t in a rush to get somewhere as quickly as possible. This opens the doors for other transportation options than carbon-intensive flights, like trains or boats which are much more enjoyable! 

Food is also a major part of cultural significance, which you can explore more when you travel slowly. Instead of going to the closest restaurant, which is probably targeted at tourists, you can explore the local cuisine at a much more affordable price. 

Tips To Make The Most of Slow Travel

Research, Don't Plan

While it is great to be aware of what is around you, you shouldn’t lock yourself into any official plans right away. If you let yourself go with the flow, you may find things that you would never find on TripAdvisor or Google Maps. Check out what things there are to do in an area so you know what other opportunities might exist too! 

Allow yourself to let go of the need to see and do everything. Instead of creating a rigid itinerary, focus on a few experiences that genuinely interest you and allow yourself the freedom to explore without a rigid schedule.

 

Choose Sustainable Transportation Options

Select eco-friendly transportation options whenever possible. Utilize public transportation, walk, and look for ferries instead of flights. Not only will this reduce your environmental impact, but it will also allow you to take in the sights of the area at a more leisurely pace.

When you move slowly, you also open the opportunity to meet other like-minded people. Enjoy the journey, and make that a part of the experience. It’s not just about the destination!

Stay in Local Accommodations

To further immerse yourself in the local culture, choose small, locally-owned accommodations such as guesthouses, bed & breakfasts, or homestays. These options often provide a more personal experience and can offer unique insights into local life.

There isn’t a better way to practice the language, understand the values and traditions, and connect with an area than staying with a local family. Not only do you learn, but you also help support locals. I promise you, a big resort that is designed to make you feel comfortable and at home, is not an enriching experience when you’re abroad.

Travel in the Off-Season

If you go to a major tourist destination in the middle of peak season, you may find that tours are booked and accommodations are limited, which makes planning essential. If you travel in the off-season, you skip the massive crowds of stressed-out travelers, and you get to move freely. 

Similarly, challenge yourself to get off of the beaten path. Explore new less explored areas. This can lead to unique and unforgettable experiences that you might otherwise miss. Just because you don’t see it as a trendy place on Instagram (yet), it doesn’t mean there aren’t new places to explore that will be more authentic and memorable.

Put Yourself Out There

Traveling is the door to a world of new experiences and perspectives. It is up to you to open that door! When you travel, be confident in yourself and try new things. If you are alone, talk to people! Travelers are the most friendly people, who are always open to new friends. Go to events and things that draw you, that’s where you will meet like-minded people!

Even if that means getting on Bumble or the notorious Tinder to meet people in the area, it’s a great way to connect with others and get in the groove of moving around solo. I suggest staying at hostels to start, or looking for volunteer opportunities to get you in the rhythm of traveling and meeting new people!

Talk To Locals

There are no better people to connect with than locals. I’m guessing you didn’t travel to the other side of the world to connect with people who are from the same state/country as you. When you’re out to eat, ask the server if they know of any good viewpoints. Talk to shop owners about what they’re selling and be open to learning about local crafts and traditions.

These conversations will open so many doors for you – you never know who knows where the best waterfalls are, or tricks to avoid tourist traps!

Dive Into the Local Culture

No matter where in the world you land, cultures vary dramatically. Ask locals what is happening around your area, and go for it! Whether it is a dance ritual, a religious ceremony, a traditional practice, or a parade, experience everything you can.

These are the things that you can’t capture in a photo. They’re the feelings that will sit with you long into your old age of memories of distant worlds that you got to be a part of.

Embrace Digital Disconnect

Put your phone down regularly and just be. The world moves so fast out there, and when you’re constantly connected to what is happening all over the world, you lose touch with what is happening where you are. 

Use this time to be present in the moment, take in your surroundings, and connect with the people around you. Social media often distorts the way the world looks and ‘should’ feel. Be present and take in the reality of life, everywhere you are.

Be Adaptable

Part of adopting a slow travel mindset involves being open to change and spontaneity. Be prepared to adjust your plans as needed and embrace the unexpected. This is where a lot of growth develops in you, as you learn to trust yourself in unknown situations.

You are capable and intuitive. Trust your instincts, and prioritize your safety, but also allow yourself to be uncomfortable and challenged. You never know what opportunities are out there until you’re open to them.

Have Patience With Yourself

Traveling can be a major transition, and if you don’t listen to yourself you can burn yourself out. Give yourself enough time to rest, a little bit of ‘me time’ can be the most grounding place when the world feels so foreign and unfamiliar. 

Nobody will say that traveling full-time is always easy, and if they do, please seek more authentic perspectives. It is a challenge sometimes, but it is in those moments that you grow the most and learn about yourself.

If you’re ready to take on this life of travel and connection, check out the steps to follow to Build a Life of Slow Travel.

Summary - Slow Travel; Mindful Tips For Sustainable Trips

Slow travel offers a refreshing alternative to the typical fast-paced, checklist-driven approach to exploring the world. By embracing this mindset, you can deepen your cultural understanding, reduce your environmental impact, and create meaningful connections with the people and places you encounter. By following the tips outlines in this article, you can begin to adopt a slow travel mindset that aligns with the principles of sustainable and responsible travel. 

So, on your next adventure, remember to take a step back, slow down, and truly savor the journey.

What other destinations are on your bucket list? Find your Travel Inspiration here. 

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Sustainable Travel, 0 comments
Slow Travel – Guide To Your Dream Life

Slow Travel – Guide To Your Dream Life

 
The only thing keeping you from a dream life of slow travel is that you haven’t started the process of making small changes to get there! Or better yet, you don’t know where to start.
 
If that’s the case, you’re in the right spot. This post explains the major steps and considerations to make a life of long-term travel a reality for anyone.
 
You’re probably tired of seeing people living your dream life, while you’re feeling stuck with the same rhythm you’ve been in for too long. Traveling long-term can definitely be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! I’m here to share how I quit my corporate job, left on a one-way ticket to put my bucket list items on the calendar and start living for experiences. 
 
What are you waiting for? Your dream life of slow travel and adventure is ready for you to take! 
Items needed for travel planning laid out on a table, including passport, map, glasses, camera and bank cards.

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Read More - Learn more to understand exactly What is Slow Travel, and why it's right for you.

where to start
Setting yourself up for long-term (or indefinite) travel takes a few months of preparation, but you will thank yourself in the long run for the work you put in to set yourself upright! Of course, this depends a lot on where your life is prior to going into this transition, how much you currently own, what you want to experience on your travel, your budget, and your adaptability. 
This section breaks down some of the best starting points so you’re ready to tackle specific plans with more space on your plate.

Shed What You Don't Need

First, start assessing what you currently have in your life, in your space, in those boxes in the garage you haven’t touched for months. Now think about what you don’t need, and what you could get rid of before you even think about travel. Making space in your life physically will allow you more space mentally to take on new goals and projects. Think about the things you can sell, and put that money towards your travel!

A big decision that will need to be made is what to do with your current living situation while you’re abroad. Does it make sense to keep paying rent for the months you will be away? Are you in a good place to move out entirely and save on the monthly expenses? Or maybe you will want to sublet your place on Airbnb to make some passive income while you’re abroad!  

My partner and I both were at the crossroads of moving out entirely, which was really refreshing to think about everything we wanted to keep! A good trick when going through what you own is by asking yourself: “Does it bring me joy, purpose, or sentiment?”. In asking that question, you will really start to realize what is and is not necessary to keep in your life. 

Get Ahead Of Your Health

In the early stages of preparing to pivot towards a life of travel, set yourself up for less stress down the line and check in with all of your health needs before you have something major on the other side of the world. We all know how long some doctors can take to get in for an appointment, so do yourself a favor and get in early. 

Make a point to get a routine dental cleaning, get a routine physical, update on any recommended vaccinations, visit your gynecologist, and whatever else in your mental and physical health needs attention.

You don’t want that routine dentist appointment you saved for a week before you leave to suddenly result in a root canal that you will either wait to do (in agony) or try to schedule in a country where you don’t understand the healthcare quality yet (which happened to my partner). 

Budget

Budgeting is a crucial step in the beginning phase of planning for your travel, as it will determine the plans you go with in later steps. You will have a lot of options for accommodation, transport, food and excursions, so get yourself to a reasonable starting goal (that you can adjust later). 

Be realistic with yourself and what you can afford to do. You shouldn’t expect to have a full budget created that you can stick to for the next 5 years, but get an idea of where you are at financially which will help you in the next steps as you ‘Take The Leap’ to full planning mode. Assess your current expenditures and think about where you can cut back, vs. what costs may be included with a nomadic life. And in the meantime, save as much as you can! 

Some additional costs that should be considered with a life of travel will be discussed more below, and include:
 
  • Storage Unit for personal belongings at home
  • Travel Insurance Coverage
  • Renter’s Insurance
  • Mobile Phone
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Public Transportation
  • Visas / Passport Renewal

Income

Indefinite travel is only possible as long as the funds last, and without any coming in, it’s not really indefinite is it? If you’re planning to take a leave from your job and travel for a while off your savings, then go ahead! Just make sure to focus on your budget, and be ready to say goodbye to a life that you’ll fall in love with. 

Talk to the management in your current role, and see if there is any way to travel while working for the same company! I was working a full-time corporate role when I was ready to start traveling, and after a few conversations, a new door opened to working a dream job abroad! Although I didn’t end up accepting the role, it’s a reminder that you should always at least ask. 

“The answer will always be no to the questions you never ask”

If you’re ready for a full change, think about how you can make money remotely. Maybe you have a great digital skill that you can do freelance? Maybe you will incorporate your travel into your work, like with travel photography or a skills instructor at resort destinations (surfing, yoga, cooking)?

Get creative and be your biggest advocate! This is the chance to take a dream and make it a reality with a little bit of work and commitment.

Take The Leap
At this stage, you’ve got the ball rolling in the right direction, but with no real commitments made, you can still turn back to the life where you’ve cleansed your space and belongings, prioritized your health, and assessed your budget, without any major time or money put into the real traveling planning. And that’s great, if that’s where it ends!

But, if you excited and ready to continue moving forward with the journey, it’s time to take the leap and start getting into some of the specific plans that need to be considered, like where you’ll be exploring, accommodation options, documentation, insurance coverage, banking, phone plans, and packing!

Destination

Throughout the weeks, months, or years of dreaming of a life traveling, maybe there has been a bucket list place you know you want to start, which is awesome! But if not, you’ll need to start focusing on a destination that you can build your plans around, and a time of year to plan on.

Destination

 The world is a big place, and you will never be able to see it all. Luckily there are ways to get to every corner of it, 
so don’t worry, you’ll be able to explore wherever you want along the way, but you do need to start somewhere. 
 
Think about the destination as a region, rather than a place. Once you can focus in on a broader region, the rest will fall into place with some research. Focus on traveling slowly, so you can fully experience a place in the day-to-day, rather than focusing on plans and logistics of travel. Moving slowly will mean you stay somewhere for a longer period of time, get enriched in the local culture, meet people more regularly, and spend more time being than being on the move. 
 
Try to have a general idea of where you’d want to go, even if it’s as simple as “Croatia, to the mountains, then Western Europe”. This will at least provide a guide on where to start researching. Keep the distances between the ideal destinations as close as possible, because it wouldn’t be cheap or easy going from the UK to Greece to India. 

When To Go

Be aware of the tourist fluctuations for the destinations you’re considering, especially if you’re on a budget. Travel in the shoulder seasons to save money in so many ways! There will be more accommodation and transport options, smaller crowds, and lower prices for excursions. Another benefit of off-peak travel, is you get a more authentic experience and meet some locals!

My partner and I arrived in Split, Croatia in mid-October, when we had plenty of summer days left to enjoy the coastline swimming in the sea, but without the crowds of other tourists!

 

Accommodation

Where you stay is completely dependent on your budget and the experience you’re looking to have. 

If you’re on a tight budget, there are free options where you trade work for food & accommodation. This includes WWOOF, WorkAway, and Trusted Housesitters. Couchsurfing is also an option although participation of global members is on the decline. 

If you’re about to spend a bit, but still with a reasonable budget, check out month-long stays with Airbnb! This has been our top choice of accommodation, so we only have to pick 1 place for a whole month, it allows us time to settle in, and we get to fully immerse in a community. Stays over 28 days often have a long-term discount, so we save a ton vs. the nightly costs for a hotel or hostel.

If you’re doing more frequent travel and can’t commit to a month somewhere, hostels and hotels are an easy option! When you consider the nightly price, the cost is definitely among the highest options, but there are some cool resources to save. 

Check out Hostel World, for the best deals and the chance to connect with travelers before the trip. Also, there’s Hotel Tonight which has discounted last-minute hotel rooms.

Documentation

Depending on the timeline of when you hope to leave, start thinking about the validity of your Passport and any Visa requirements for the region you will want to go. These processes are the most out of your control, so it’s better to get them started sooner than later so they won’t hold you up.
 
Passport renewals can take up to 11 weeks and is essential before you can book any international travel. If your passport is up to date, check when it will expire, thinking about how long you hope or plan to be abroad. While updating a passport while abroad is possible, it is much easier to do while in your home country (and way less stressful).
 
Based on where you want to go, there are different requirements for entry that you definitely need to check out! Some countries require a Visa depending on your country of origin, vaccination records, accommodation plans, bank statements, and even your confirmed plans of exit!
 
Knowing what your destination countries require will allow you to plan accordingly so you can avoid any bumps in the road (which are usually much more expensive to get over on the spot).
 
Especially after the pandemic, global travel requirements are constantly changing, so make sure that the research you do is updated and accurate to when you plan to travel. Check out the Government websites on Entry Requirements to make sure you have everything you need before you go!

Insurance

Insurance coverage is a big one to tackle, and can definitely get a bit complicated if you don’t know what to look out for, and to be honest there are a lot of options! You can have a combination of health insurance, travel insurance, and renter’s insurance to make sure you and your investments are protected.
 
Take your time doing the research to find what is best for you and your needs to make sure you have coverage! Not all insurance plans are created equal, so go into the details to see what coverage you have for emergencies vs. routine health visits, travel issues that are your fault or not, and any coverage on your personal belongings.
 
While traveling with a limited amount of things in a foreign place, knowing that you have support in the worst-case scenarios will offer you some peace of mind that you’re covered, so keep in mind these helpful tips to get started:
 
  • Check your credit cards for travel insurance coverage
  • Read the fine print for health insurance to check the exclusions (especially if you plan to do any type of physical activity)
  • Invest in Renter’s insurance to protect all of the things you will be traveling in the event it gets lost or stolen

Banking Smart

This step can be very easy if you already bank with someone that makes it easy for long-term travel, but chances are your bank will charge you ridiculous foreign transaction fees and ATM fees, which are easily avoidable! The following list is the 3 biggest things you’ll want to set up for a safe, cheap, and easy way to travel:
 
  • Credit Card that has 0 foreign transaction fees so you can use your card for all purchases without fear of fraud
  • A Checking Account that has unlimited foreign ATM withdrawals with no added fee
  • A way to budget and manage all of your finances so you can stay on top of it

Phone Plan

An easy way to feel overwhelmed as soon as you land in your first destination is not having any connection to the internet, or a basic phone plan to get you settled. Before you go, have a plan in mind of what you will do for a phone plan so you can take action to get set up as soon as you land. You have a few options to stay connected if your current plan doesn’t already work where you’ll be traveling to, including:
 
  • Planning to use WiFi with no phone plan (which is unreliable and I definitely don’t recommend)
  • Switching to a local provider via physical SIM when you arrive so you don’t have any international fees
  • Installing an eSIM on your phone so you have connection when you land (best option!)
  • Getting a travel plan with your current provider (which is ridiculously expensive in some cases)
Don’t forget to have your friends and family back home get set up on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger so you can stay in touch without accidentally incurring international call/text rates!

Read More - Check out more on International Phone Plans for Travelers!

Packing

While all of the plans listed above are in motion, you’re well on your way to making your dream life a reality! Now for the fun part, think through what you want to bring with you and how you’re going to move it all around. What you bring will be carried with you to every new destination, so do yourself a favor and only bring what you need, making space for things you didn’t know you needed until you arrive, and making sure to choose luggage that is comfortable and works for you. 

By packing smart, you will incur fewer baggage fees (if any at all), save space and weight on transport which improves its efficiency, and also align more with a minimalist lifestyle! This part can be daunting depending on your lifestyle and travel style, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make it easier to select what you will bring, and less stressful once you start your travels!
 
  • Pack Light (10 Days)
  • Use what you Already Have
  • Favor Functionality over Style
  • Versatility is Everything

Read More - For more ideas on packing smart, check out this post on Packing Hacks to Stay Organized on Long-Term Travel

on the journey
Now that you have everything you need together, you’re ready to take off and make your dreams a reality as you take on this new lifestyle! But the key to traveling sustainably is making sure you are able to do everything you want, without breaking your budget or making wasteful decisions when you’re in a crunch.

 Sustainable thinking has been important to get you to this point, but it is so essential to keep you on this path so you can travel affordably and feel good about it! While you’re on your journey, the major areas of consideration include your transportation, what you eat, and making sure to record these memories that will last a lifetime!

Transport

The First Trip

The first step in transportation is how you get there, which is most likely going to be by plane, unless you’re staying closer to where you live (nice job!). Traveling by flight is definitely not sustainable, but sometimes it is the only choice to travel. 

Budget flight apps like Kayak, Skyscanner and Hopper can be great to save, but be aware of what it might cost. These options usually have an extra fee for luggage (including carry-ons), long layovers, and risk of missed flights. Skyscanner and Kayak are actual search engines, whereas Hopper is a booking agency. If you book a flight (or hotel) through the Hopper App, there aren’t as many guarantees as what you’ll book when going through Skyscanner and Kayak.

I also use Google Flights (in incognito mode) to check for the lowest dates, and compare this with a search on Kayak. I’ve found the most affordable options through these 2 methods, especially when you factor in all of the hidden costs that get tagged on the cheap flights. 

 

The Rest of Transportation

Once you get to your destination, unless it is in a very rural area, you will find public transport to be much more accessible and reliable! Thankfully this is almost always the cheaper option, and way better for the environment for so many reasons. 

You won’t always be able to get exactly where you want to go the second you want it as you would with a car, but immersing in public transport is a great way to get the local experience, meet people, save money and see more of the country than you would on a major interstate highway.

For transport in between destinations, it is a great time to kick back, reflect, catch up on some sleep or see the landscape. Trains are the most efficient means of transport, and often more comfortable than long-haul buses, but do be aware that almost all long-haul transport will have baggage fees which should be incorporated into the pricing (another reason to limit to 1 backpack)!

Food

No matter where you plan to travel, food and nutrition is a major necessity but how you do it can be impactful to both your budget and the planet. Unless you’re doing a program like WWOOF or WorkAway where food is provided, you have the options of either eating out or grocery shopping, both of which will give you a taste of the local cuisine and have their pros and cons. 

Ultimately, grocery shopping and cooking at home will likely be your best option for your budget, but you can definitely find some amazing deals around the town or city you’re staying that will cost you the same, get you out meeting locals, and prevent all the dishes you would have to do otherwise.

If you have any dietary restrictions, respect those as needed and make sure you know what the words are in the native language to prevent a reaction. Food is a major cultural aspect, so I encourage you to lean into the local cuisine as much as possible. For some, this may be harder said than done. I myself was a vegetarian for the greater part of 12 years and I got very used to this diet, especially living in California where everyone seems to be an organic, GF, vegan-only type of person. 

Some of the best foods I have tried while abroad have been the local meats from a butcher, and you definitely won’t find the variety of options we have in the US. It’s always a great idea to get some additional nutrients from supplements like AG1 or daily vitamins to support your health! 

Memories

At this stage, you put in all of the work and you made it to the other side. As much as you’ll want to disconnect and just be, these are moments that you will look back at with fondness as you share your experiences with friends and family for the rest of your life! 

Take some time to reflect and record the places you go, the things you do, the people you meet, and everything you’ve learned (and unlearned). Take a small envelope/packing cube to keep memories stored while you are on your journey. You never know what you’ll want to bring with you, whether it’s the local currency, photos, tickets, coasters, or shells. And as beautiful of an area you’re in, don’t forget to get some photos with you in them as well!

Summary - Slow Travel - Guide to Your Dream Life

Like any long-term goal, the end may feel far from where you’re at.  Start the journey now with small steps every day, week, and month, and you’ll get to your goals in no time. Start with the small bites of addressing where you’re currently at, and make some space for the new.  As you free up some mental and physical space, you’ll be able to tackle specific planning of where you’re going and make sure your basic needs will be covered.  Most of all, be proud of yourself for making the jump and doing what you’ve always dreamed of.  

This is your one shot at life, what do you want to do with it?

Posted by Taylor Mallaber in Sustainable Travel, Travel Planning, 0 comments