Friday, 24 August 2007

Travel tips - how to respect the environment

Following on from my blog yesterday when I talked about how to be socially and culturally respectful, I'd also like to post a few tips on how to respect the environment when travelling abroad.

If you're staying in an eco-accommodation, the majority of them will already have processes in place to recycle, conserve energy and water and to limit damaging waste. However, you shouldn't expect them to do all the work! You can help them along by using water and energy as efficiently as possible e.g. don’t leave taps running or lights on unnecessarily, by taking shampoos etc. with you that are bio-degradable, by never littering and by recycling anything you can (if there are no facilities for recycling certain products e.g. plastic bottles, where you are, take these home with you to recycle).

So that you don’t upset the natural balance or cause erosion, stick to marked trails (both when walking and driving), don't disturb the local wildlife with excessive noise and don’t take any souvenirs from along the way.

Also, please don't buy anything that has come from an endangered animal species, or a protected species of plant and don’t support shows where animals are used for entertainment.

I'm sure there are other ways of protecting the environment while you're travelling - any other tips please drop me a line!

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Travel tips - how to travel responsibly

Of course, staying in an eco accommodation in itself doesn't mean that you are travelling responsibly - staying somewhere eco friendly but then going out and offending the local community, littering the landscape or collecting natural elements to take home as a souvenir would be easy ways to counteract any good you are doing!

So here are a few eco travel tips to consider when you actually arrive in-country. First off - cultural considerations:

You could find yourself in a very different situation to that which you are used to back home, but you must remember that this is normal life to the people who live it, so be open-minded.

Traditions, culture, religious beliefs, clothing and food may all be very different to what you are used to but be respectful.

Respect people’s wishes and ask before you take photographs.

Try getting to know people - you may learn something about their way of life and they may be able to give you insider info on where to go and what to do that you won’t find in the guidebooks!

When you are buying goods, using services such as tour guides or eating in restaurants, try to spend money that will benefit the local communities.

Giving money to people begging is not usually encouraged as it does not promote self-sufficiency, although this is down to your own ethical beliefs. However, if you do want to give something back in a more sustainable way, a number of eco-accommodations (including someo f those featured on are involved in projects where you can volunteer, and others will be able to give you advice on how you can help the local community in a sustainable way.

Any other ideas are welcome. Tomorrow - environmental considerations.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

eco travel tips - before you go

The other day I posted some tips for eco travel with regards to transportation, but this isn't the only thing you can think about before you go.

Once you’ve decided on your destination and sorted out your flights, there are a few things you can think about and prepare for before you arrive.

Firstly, you can research the cultural does and don’ts of the local population. For example, in some countries it is rude to point at things with your feet, to touch people on the head or to drink alcohol. By researching things like this before you go, you can be respectful of people and their culture when you arrive.

Dress code is also an important factor – if you are travelling to a country where it is disrespectful to show certain parts of the body, it’s best to know this before you go so that you can pack accordingly.

Learning a few words of the local language before you go also shows respect and will help you to interact with the local people.

You may also want to look into local methods of transportation so that you can transfer to your accommodation and travel around the country both conveniently and responsibly e.g. take public transport instead of a private taxi to reduce carbon emmissions.

If you plan on taking tours during your holiday you could research local companies who use local guides and try to protect the environment, rather than booking trips with companies who give nothing back to the local communities.

And of course, you can use to find an eco-friendly accommodation and review its policies, ensuring it meets your criteria.

If anyone else has any eco travel tips I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

New eco-lodge on ecobookers!

Today we have launched another fantastic eco lodge on

Ibo Island Lodge is situated on the Indian Ocean paradise of Ibo Island - one of a string of 32 tropical islands that make up the stunning Quirimbas Archipelago in Northern Mozambique.

The Lodge encompasses 3 mansions, each over 100 years old and located on the waterfront.

This Lodge has a wide range of eco-policies, ranging from energy efficiency to conservation projects to recycling policies. The main focus, however, is on community policies with lodge estimated to positively affect up to 50% of the island's 3000 inhabitants through sustainable eco-tourism.

Friday, 17 August 2007

eco travel tips - flying

Reading through the news today brings to my attention again that a number of people out there believe eco-travel to be an oxymoron. As an advocator of eco-travel myself I'd like to comment.
I personally don't agree with those protesting at Climate Camp who want to ban flying altogether. Tourism employs an astonishing proportion of the world's population and curtailing it would lead to a grand-scale economic decline. It is also true to say that in some areas, such as parts of the Amazon, it can be seen that eco-travel actually does do more good than harm - it is eco-tourism which is helping to reduce the speed of deforestation, by providing alternate forms of income.
What I would propose is needed is a long-term view - for example, we need the air carriers to be looking at ways of reducing their emmissions rather than expecting people never to leave the UK again - I can't even imagine what a terrifying world that would create.

Let me further say, however, that this does not mean I am opposed to people making some effort to reduce their travel emmissions - I would simply call for moderacy in these issues. Here are a few tips which I believe are more practicable than banning flying:

1) Reduce the number of flights you take each year. Maybe you could replace some of your overseas trips with breaks nearer to home, or travel to somewhere accessible by public transport (try for tips on train travel).

2) As take-off and landing are the worst time for carbon emmissions, you could also try to avoid stop-overs en-route when you fly to an overseas destination.

3) When choosing your airline you could check out their eco-policies (maybe this will be worthwhile in the future than now...). For example, Virgin Atlantic are investing in more fuel-efficient jets and Virgin boss, Sir Richard Branson, has pledged all profits from his travel companies over the next 10 years to help fight global warming.

4) Finally, you could choose to off-set your carbon emissions through a carbon-offsetting scheme. The theory behind this is that you calculate your carbon emissions with a carbon calculator, and pay money in to a scheme which prevents or removes an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide elsewhere. Defra are in the process of developing a code of practice for this type of scheme, but until this is ready see the following information with links to carbon offset providers :-

Thursday, 16 August 2007

new eco accommodations on ecobookers!

Today 2 fantastic new eco accommodations have gone live on

The first is an eco lodge on the beautiful Caribbean island of Dominica - 3 Rivers Eco Lodge, Dominica is a lush, green, mountainous, rain-forested island and 3 Rivers is set in a valley, surrounded by nature and rivers. It has a wide array of eco-policies, starting with the building of the Lodge itself, which used salvaged land and renewable materials. It also has in-depth energy, recycling, conservation and community policies. It also has a range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.

The second new accommodation launched is Campi ya Kanzi in Kenya, which offers a luxury tented, private safari experience but in an ecologically friendly manner. Here you can really get involved with conservation of the Maasai culture in addition to the conservation of the native wildlife. The camp also has a range of energy, design and recycling policies making this an all-round eco-friendly experience.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

how to tell if a hotel is eco

So, if finding eco hotels and lodges around the world is my mission, how do I judge them? Alot of sites seem to give the message that an accommodation is 'eco' just because it's in a jungle or other natural place, when there might not even be a focus on respecting that environment. To me, that isn't eco, and being eco-friendly is not dependent on the location of the hotel or lodge, although you will find that many eco-lodges are set in natural surrounds.

I've done a lot of research into this and my research points towards 5 key areas of action which eco accommodations can take. This is how eco accommodations are assessed on :

Eco-Design For example, do the buildings and landscapes integrate themselves into the natural environment? Are natural and locally produced building materials used?

Energy What does the accommodation do to reduce carbon and energy use? Are alternative energy sources such as solar power used?

Conservation How does the accommodation help to conserve its natural surroundings? Does it have an environmental education program?

Ecological sustainability How are the effects of waste on the surrounding environment reduced e.g. is waste and waste water recycled? Are the resources used renewed at the same rate? Is food locally grown and produced?

Community Does the accommodation incorporate cultural considerations e.g. are guests informed of local cultures and customs? Is the local community provided with economic benefit? What proportion of the staff employed are local people? Are there any programs to support the local community?

Not all accommodations featured will cover every one of these points – some may lean more strongly towards conservation, while others focus more on supporting the local culture and community - but they should certainly have a strong spread of policies.

That's all for me today!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

ecobookers is launched!

After months and months of hard work, is finally born!

ecobookers is founded in the belief that overseas travel can be a beneficial thing - not only should it be possible to visit new countries and experience new cultures without doing harm to them, it should actually be possible to have a positive impact.

Staying in an eco-friendly hotel or lodge is a big part of this, but I know from long hours of experience that they can be pretty hard to find. There are so many hotels describing themselves as eco-friendly, yet on closer inspection their policies run to little more than using bio-degradable detergents or changing the bed-linen less frequently.

But there are many great eco-hotels, lodges, hostels and camps around the world, and it's my mission to find them!!