7 ways to leave no trace

'Eco-friendly', 'sustainable' and 'responsible' are no longer just buzzwords — they're ideas that have been embraced by travel companies. Today, leaving (next to) no trace is easier than you think

By Josephine Price
Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:22 BST, Updated 12 Jul 2021, 13:46 BST
Photograph by Getty Images

1 // Go wild
Going wild camping with minimal impact on the environment is harder than it sounds. Thankfully, US non-profit organisation Leave No Trace has tips on everything you need to know, from how to dispose of a campfire to which surfaces are best to camp on.

2 // Super fly
Keen to become a greener traveller? You could always stick out your thumb at the roadside and discover the joys of hitchhiking. A more practical option would be to download Glooby. The app finds and compares eco-friendly flights and hotels across the globe so you leave as small a carbon footprint as possible.

3 // Festival fix
Green Man, Glastonbury and Shambala have long waved the eco flag but a recent addition to the festival circuit, The Good Life Experience, is proving its worth too. Founded by singer and DJ Cerys Matthews, the three-day bash in Flintshire, Wales — is centred on food, books, crafts and the great outdoors, and boasts all things local, seasonal and verdant. Think bamboo rather than plastic plates and no plastic bottles in sight.

4 // Boldly going
The vast majority of Intrepid Travel's tours and all its global offices have offset their carbon footprint. So whether you're cycling across Central America, on safari in Tanzania, or trekking across Patagonia, you can relax, safe in the knowledge your carbon will be cancelled out by contributions to projects in Kenya and Cambodia.

5 // Positively negative
Forget carbon neutral, Bhutan is now carbon negative (the country is 70% forest, which helps), and it plans to produce zero greenhouse gas emissions and waste by 2030. Plus, visitors have to stump up a hefty entry fee of up to $250 (£188) a day, $65 (£49) of which goes towards free education and healthcare, and poverty alleviation.

6 // Happy campers
Be more nomadic on your next trip and seek out a tour operator that can create a camp just for you. Often these are bespoke luxury options meaning that you can remain eco-friendly without having to slum it. Sleep in Bedouin tents in Oman's Wahiba desert with Hud Hud Travels or join the Tanda Tula low-impact safari camp in the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa. There'll be nothing there before you and nothing remaining after you leave. Just memories.

7 // City life
Believe it or not, there's an eco retreat slap bang in the middle of Manhattan — although the 24,000 plants in the lobby of 1 Hotel Central Park may make you feel you're in the wilderness. Everything from clothes hangers to room keys have been crafted out of recycled materials. There are myriad ways to cut back on waste too — you'll find a chalkboard next to the bed instead of a notepad and a five-minute timer in the shower. Plus, there's a Tesla private taxi service. The hotel's 1 Good Day scheme lets you volunteer on city community projects in return for Lyft credit and two free cocktails.

Published in the December 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


Explore Nat Geo

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • History & Culture
  • Science
  • Travel
  • Photography
  • Space
  • Adventure
  • Video

About us


  • Magazines
  • Disney+

Follow us

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2024 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved