5 digital ways to ‘green’ your travels

With lightweight laptops, tablets and smartphones, finding advice and inspiration when travelling has never been easier. There is a wealth of apps, websites and social media platforms out there focused on eco travel advice and inspiration helping you to pick the best eco-friendly options.

But don't let digital rule your life - switch-off properly when you're away!
But don’t let digital rule your life – switch-off properly when you’re away!

However, at Goodtrippers, we’re advocates of enjoying the here and now so this post comes with our best advice – only look at your digital screen during some genuine downtime! Never miss the sights and sounds around you, even on supposedly boring car journeys, by losing precious hours to Twitter, Reddit and all the rest. Put that laptop or phone AWAY for the most part of your trip. When planning a trip before you go, and you need some advice and inspiration (that’s a little easier to access than a bulky guidebook), you can have a peek at these apps and sites…

Pinterest – What Pinterest may lack in comprehensive detail, it more than makes up for in sheer aesthetic inspiration when it comes to eco travel. Just search for “eco lodge”, “ecotourism” or ‘eco travel” and you’ll be greeted with streams of beautiful and unusual places to stay, eat or visit. With most images linked you’ll be able to find out more a particular location or hotel in no time. Start re-pinning your favourites and you’re on your way to planning your trip of a lifetime!

Ecorio app – Free to Android users, this new app helps users track their personal carbon footprint when travelling. Once you’ve set-up with your initial location, it will constantly track your carbon usage based on whether you’re travelling by bike, public transport or specific model of car. It also gives tips on public transport options available wherever you are, and ties in to the carpooling community ZimRide to help make journeys less carbon hungry.

Lonely Planet app – one of the leading travel guides and websites also has a range of very comprehensive apps for the iPhone, Android and Nokia. Even though this may be more a location guide for several countries, the Lonely Planet ethos ensures you’ll be enjoying your travels responsibly by choosing low-impact travel and respecting local cultures.

Locavore app – Available for free on the iPhone and Android, this foodie app is a must for any ‘locavore’, or lover of local, seasonal food. Wherever you are, it will list the produce in season in your area, pinpoint local farmers’ markets and shops selling fresh, local, sometime organic food. It appears quite USA-heavy at present but they are intending to build up a more comprehensive picture covering other countries as the community builds…

The Guardian: Green Travel – The Guardian has always been strong on green travel and this section of their website pulls together all of their ecotourism news and features. It’s definitely worth a thorough browse before or during your trip as one of their intrepid journalists may well have been there and reviewed it before you! From staying in treehouses, taking high-speed trains across Europe or readers tips covering everything from organic cafes to the best natural woodlands – it’s all here!

That’s just a few to get started. Let us know your favourite eco-friendly travel apps and social sites in the comments below…

How to embrace ‘social travel’ and travel smarter

We all want to find ways to make our travels cheaper, greener and more memorable – the answer could lie in social travel…

Host family FijiSocial travel is part of the rapidly expanding collaborative consumption movement – peer-to-peer sharing, lending and borrowing – that is exploding in popularity thanks to social media. The good news for travel fans is that this ‘sharing economy’ is full of travel-related platforms – from established names (Airbnb) to innovative newcomers (PocketCultures) – making travel more social than ever before.

Here are just a handful of great social travel sites out there:

Get some real inspiration: We all have our personal ‘top 10’ travel destinations, collected from years of reading magazine reviews and recommendations – but are you missing the real world out there? Before your trip, browse the blogs, photos and interviews on PocketCultures for an insight into what life is really like from Auckland harbour to a village in Tanzania. My Destination, which re-launched a brand new website last year, is a similar travel resource giving you access to hundreds of local experts around the globe – read their tips, guides and video reports before you leave for some previously unconsidered gems.

Hang out with the locals: You go to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower; you go to Siem Reap and gaze at Angkor Wat; you go to Rome and walk around the Coliseum. But have you really ‘seen’ these wonderful places? Getting a local’s perspective on the best bars, restaurants, shops and things to do will reveal a side to your destination that no guide book can. Tripping allows travellers to meet welcoming locals in over 175 countries so they can show you the hidden sights. At Vayable locals become tour guides of their own city sharing knowledge and experiences, from canoe trips to horse-riding, with other travellers. The most popular experiences on right now Tripbod are ice-fishing in Estonia and an Indian textiles and handicraft tour.

Bypass the hotels: If you can’t function without 24-hour room service and miniature soaps then perhaps this isn’t for Longitude 131, Australia, at nightyou, but if you want a really social trip you need to ignore the hotel listings. Airbnb and Couchsurfing are now two of the best known peer-to-peer accommodation sites listing hundreds of options from loft apartments and country cottages to luxury villas. Stay in real homes, with real people and make your trip personal and unique. And to help save money, home swaps offer a practical (and often exciting) alternative: with newcomer LoveHomeSwap you could be swapping your pad with a homeowner on the other side of the world – and get accommodation for free!

Don’t buy it – borrow it: Unless you’re a member of the international jet-set, we’re guessing that you’re not flying off on holiday every two weeks, meaning those suitcases, travel accessories, gadgets and guide books only see the light of day about once a year. Keep holiday costs low by borrowing those extra travel items instead of buying them. Lending/borrowing websites – including Ecomodo – often list handy holiday items to borrow for a fraction of the purchase price. Just don’t expect to borrow the sun cream…

Find your friends: Ever come back from somewhere to find a friend of a friend was staying just down the road from you? Tripl helps you keep track of your friends travelling by processing all the updates and geo-information of friends in your networks – so if it turns out you are going to be in the same place at the same time, you can meet up.

Share your own tips: Sites like Tripbird allow you to find and book recommended hotels by using your existing social networks – ask for tips from friends, acquaintances and other people you trust, arrange group bookings together and share experiences via Instagram. (And don’t forget to tell us about any of the eco-friendly things you discovered on your travels!).

So, whether you’re off on a two-week holiday or a six-month volunteering trip, don’t forget to bookmark these social travel sites – they may hold the key to the best travel experience yet.

This blog post by Goodtrippers was originally published on Frontier at www.frontiergap.com