Why walking can be your best eco-friendly vacation ever

15 July 17

| Healthy Steps For Fun |

Wainwright Coast to Coast walking vacation - England
What if we told you there’s an unforgettable adventure in your future. It will be Instagram-worthy to the max. It will engage, and sometimes challenge, all your senses. Thrill you with cultural and scenic wonders. Offer rewarding encounters with like-minded adventurers. And, best of all for this poor old planet, you’ll be the most eco-friendly traveler ever.

Take a walking vacation.

Possibilities are endless, but here are a few outstanding options:

  • The lower European Alps—You’ll find terrain suitable for all levels of walking experience. From easier routes through picture-postcard Alpine pastures in the Engadine Valley and St. Moritz, to more challenging hikes such as the legendary Tour du Mont Blanc.
  • Autumn in New England—When fall colors transform the hiking trails and villages of Vermont into a kaleidoscopic wonderland, you’ll channel your inner Emily Dickinson or Henry David Thoreau.
  • Wainwright’s Coast to Coast—The most popular trail in England wends its way from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, passing through three national parks: Lake District National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park and North York Moors National Park.
  • Way of St. James—Also known as the Camino de Santiago, this UNESCO World Heritage site makes its way from St. Jean Pied de Port, in the French Pyrenees, to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. Originally only a religious pilgrimage route, today it’s undertaken by hiking pilgrims from around the world—the entire way of nearly 500 miles (typically a month of walking) or a portion of the way.

Most of these hikes are self-guided, but touring companies such as Macs Adventure can advise on every aspect of the experience, from degree of physical challenge to accommodations (often environmentally friendly) along the way. They’ll even arrange for group gear transport daily, so no need to be weighed down by heavy packs.

Smaller carbon footprint

In many parts of the world, Europe particularly, it’s easy to reach the starting point of your walk by rail or bus. That reduces your carbon footprint even before you begin to walk, which, of course, is the most eco-friendly travel mode of all.

Where to sleep after the rigors of a day’s walk? On the Way of St. James, as an example, there are former convents that have been converted into dormitories for pilgrims. These simple, affordable accommodations are also among the most eco-conscious. Or you can opt for country inns on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast. But no option is more eco-friendly than camping. If you’re not an avid camper, borrow a friend’s gear or search online to find pre-used equipment for big savings over buying new. Camping affords many ways to green your trip even more: using a foot pump to blow up your air bed saves energy, for instance, and bringing your own reusable dishes avoids wasteful paper products.

Use solar chargers for phones, and be sure to take along refillable water containers so you won’t have to rely on plastic bottles.

Overall, try to embrace the Leave No Trace motto of the UK’s famed Glastonbury festival or Burning Man‘s No MOOP (Matter Out of Place) in the Nevada desert.

Stay on the Trail

Even while walking, there are ways to walk better. Most importantly, stick to the trails. That way, you’ll minimize your impact on the local environment by not treading on native plant life or causing unnecessary soil erosion. The walking paths are designed to protect the trail for future generations. By all means visit the villages and towns along the trails, many of which now depend on walkers for their local economy.

As a sustainable and green travel choice, walking is as green as it gets. Healthy for you, healthy for the environment. What are you waiting for? Get walking!

Photo of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast trail by Sherpa Expeditions

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