The Camino de Santiago and other readymade trails are becoming more popular each year with the need to escape daily hustle and bustle and get back to nature. Over 300,000 people from around the world received their Compostela certificate last year and there are some ways that walking enthusiasts can be responsible when they are out on the trails. Try a few of the below ecofriendly travel hacks for a better journey.
1. Pack light
The more weight that you carry, the greater level of fuel consumption in your modes of transportation along the way. Opt for more lightweight walking gear. Don’t add unnecessary item and make a list of the things that you need. If you are embarking on the Camino de Santiago we have a packing checklist that will help you during the planning stages. If you have room, pack a reusable shopping bag or tote bag to carry your picnic each day.
2. Avoid products with microbeads
Nowadays it is getting easier to buy more ecofriendly products. Be aware of the ingredients in the toiletries you buy. Many products contain chemicals and non-biodegradable microbeads that will not break down when they reach the ocean. By choosing more natural products you are helping with sanitation and not harming the fish population. Choose the right shampoo and conditioner and you won’t need to feel guilty about pollution.
3. Bring a reusable water bottle
Essential to any walking holiday is having water at hand each day, and it’s one of the ecofriendly travel hacks that’s easiest to implement.
Walking is wonderful way to explore a destination. If you plan on walking any of the Camino routes you will get the chance to discover at least seven towns of more along the way without using a car or taxi, therefore reducing your carbon footprint.
4. Eat and buy local
In the small villages and towns along the Camino routes this is easy as much of the produce is locally grown and freshly supplied but in bigger cities it is a good idea to be aware of the bigger brands. Eating locally is the perfect way to sample the local delicacies. We recommend the classic tortilla or the pulpo if you are in Galicia. Simply delicious!
5. Don’t overuse hotel facilities
When you finish a long day on the trails you will relish in the thoughts of a long warm shower to soothe your muscles but try to consider the amount of water that you are using. A medium to long shower will leave you feeling just as refreshed. Use one towel instead of two and reuse your towel if you can. Remember to switch off the lights and aircon when you are heading out for tapas in the evening. This will limit your energy use during your stay. It is also very easy to forget about recycling when we are out of our everyday routines.
6. Avoid printing if possible
Download your flight tickets, walking maps and notes to your phone or iPad if you can. Often when you are walking out of a remote village or into a bustling town you may need to check your walking notes or guidebook. If you download the walking maps and notes to your phone you won’t need the printed version. Carry a small guidebook in your daypack if you need a reference at stopping points along the routes.
7. Follow the marked trails
Walking trails are marked for a reason. These are the paths chosen to protect areas of wildlife, for your safety and for ease of use. It is easy to follow the yellow arrows and scallop shell markings of the Camino de Santiago routes across France, Spain and Portugal and if you lose your way there are always people and fellow pilgrims there to help you get back on track.
8. Local souvenirs
If you bringing a gift home to a loved one try to buy local. Many of the places that you visit will be relying on tourists for their local economy. If you are buying local souvenirs you will be contributing to the region.
9. Encourage others to follow these tips
The best way to be more responsible when you are on your next adventure is to encourage others to be mindful of the above points. Pay it forward for the environment with a few simple actions.
Most importantly, enjoy every step of the trail. The Camino de Santiago is a journey for the soul, full of history and culture. Pack up your walking gear and leave your troubles behind. As they say in Spain, Buen Camino!