Can you Travel and Reduce your Carbon Footprint?

Here at Gapforce we are constantly seeking ways to lessen our impact on the environment, reduce our carbon footprint and become more Eco-friendly.

We are also equally determined that participants on our programs, whether they be trekking to Everest Base Camp or volunteering on a private game reserve in South Africa, contribute to a more Eco-friendly environment and make steps to off-set their carbon footprint.

This is not always straightforward, and sometimes requires a little bit of extra effort, but we think there are some really easy ways to stay environmentally friendly even when travelling. The best thing to do, in our eyes, is to say NO!

Say NO Approach:

  • Say NO to plastic cutlery – bring your own or at least re-use them.
  • Say NO to plastic straws – bring your own bamboo or metal straws.
  • Say NO to plastic carrier bags – bring a couple of small canvas bags to use in the shops.
  • Say NO to tiny hotel shampoo bottles – Emeraldspa recommends to use bars of soap, they are often cheaper and use considerably less plastic.
  • Say NO to rubbish and plastic waste – wherever possible pick up any litter or discarded plastic that you see lying around. Pop it in your ruck-sack and put it in a bin when you can.
  • Say NO to plastic bottles – if you have to buy drinks try to buy them in glass bottles or aluminium cans. Both of these can be more readily re-cycled and re-used.
  • Say NO to single use zip-lock bags – if you need to waterproof something invest in a waterproof dry bag that you can use for years. Tupperware is also brilliant for storing your lunch in and will keep the water out!

Plastic Water Bottle Floating in Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica, California, USA

If you think the above is easy enough, then below we have put together a list of a few more things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint when travelling.

  • Planting trees is one of the best ways that individuals can balance the carbon generated when travelling. On many of our Gapforce trips you will get the chance to off-set your carbon footprint by taking part in tree planting and re-forestation projects. For more information on these projects and which trips might be best for you, check out our programs page or contact the team on
  • Another super effective and really easy way to reduce your impact on the environment when travelling is to cut down on the use of single-use plastics. Deciding to pack a re-usable one litre water bottle like a flask or sports bottle will mean you won’t have to keep buying cheap plastic bottles from the supermarkets. You can also bring a water filter or purification tablets in case the tap water is not safe to drink, meaning there’s no excuse to buy bottled water!
  • Consider how you pack. The lighter you pack the smaller your carbon footprint. It might not sound like much but sometimes every little helps. If everybody on your flight cuts down their baggage by a few kilograms, the plane has to use less fuel and therefore the carbon emissions of the flight are reduced! Similarly, remove and recycle all packaging from your kit before you leave home. It not only makes your bag lighter but ensures that everything has been recycled. Finally, consider taking re-usable containers with you – such as flasks, mugs & lunch boxes – which will stop you from having to buy plastic containers in country.

  • Transport invariably produces the largest carbon footprint when travelling. There are, however, ways to reduce this impact. Try to use public transport to get to and from the airport you are using. Once you arrive in country, try to walk, cycle or use public transport wherever possible rather than taxis etc. You can access some amazing places on foot and you’ll enjoy a more relaxed and healthy trip! With regard to your flights, consider booking a non-stop flight, as evidence proves the take off accounts for a disproportionate amount of fuel use. Furthermore, think about taking longer trips and then travelling over land so you fly less often. Our South East Asia Explorer program is a great example of such a trip.
  • Think about where you travel and who you travel with. Travelling to a ‘Green Country’ can be really inspiring and will hopefully encourage you to be more environmentally conscious. Costa Rica is ranked 3rd on the Conserve Energy Future List. For more information on trips we run to Costa Rica, check out the Central America programs page. When thinking of who to travel with, select Eco-friendly companies… like us!
  • There are a number of things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment when in country and travelling. Try to ‘Green Hack’ your stay! By this we mean hang up your towels so they don’t get washed every day, return any maps and brochures to the hostel when you leave (so they don’t have to print more) and remember to turn off the AC and lights when you leave your room for the day.
  • Wherever possible aim to support the community you are staying in. Try to be mindful of local resources like water, do simple things like turning off the tap when you brush your teeth and only taking short showers. Do your best to buy locally made souvenirs and try to avoid cheap imports. Not only are you helping to support the local people but the carbon footprint of your souvenir will be greatly reduced. Finally, eat local. Once again you are helping to support the local restaurants and cafes but also reducing the carbon footprint of your meal. If the menu allows, eat a plant based diet as this greatly reduces your own carbon footprint.

Remember, these tips and tricks can just as easily be followed when you are at home as they can be when you are out there exploring. There’s really no excuse to not lead a more environmentally friendly life, wherever you are!

For more information on any of our trips, or if you are interested in the steps we are taking to become more Eco-friendly, feel free to contact the team on



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