Responsible solo travel

Responsible tourism is all about leaving a positive impact on both the environment and the people who live in the places we choose to visit. Don’t let this concept daunt you – responsible travel is not about limiting ways in which you can explore the world, but opening up more layers of the planet’s amazing potential to surprise and captivate you. 

Travelling responsibly needn’t have to cost more, nor should it suck the fun out of your adventure. And all it takes to nail it is a little bit of research… 

Educate yourself about your destination and its people so you can speak, behave and dress appropriately. This typically leads to more meaningful cultural experiences. 

Choose small group tour operators, which tend to have a lower environmental impact. Membership of an organisation like The International Ecotourism Society ( is a good sign that the operator tries to conduct itself in a responsible manner. 

Decant biodegradable toiletries into bottles you can reuse on future trips instead of buying travel-size versions of your favourite products, which can typically end up in landfill. 

Don’t believe what it says on the tin when it comes to ‘eco’ tours and accommodation. Ask operators to spell out their eco-friendly initiatives. Do they employ local staff and pay fair wages? Do they have environmental guidelines? 

Resist the temptation to be wasteful just because you’re on holiday. Turn off the lights, the TV and the air-con in your hotel room when you’re not using them, and avoid single-use plastic, such as hotel toiletries and cocktail straws. 

‘I never travel without a durable BPA- free water bottle, a canvas carry bag and even a reusable drinking straw for those sunset cocktail moments on the road – metal straws are more widely available these days and make a great gift for travellers. By limiting the amount of plastic you use on holiday, you can have a huge impact – more than 500 million plastic straws are used in the US each day alone, with devastating environmental consequences.’

Formerly a Destination Editor at Lonely Planet, Sarah Reid is now a content creator for various travel publishers worldwide and manages the sustainable travel website,

Reproduced with permission from The Solo Travel Handbook, © 2018 Lonely Planet