10 January 2012

Tips for an Eco-Friendly Holiday

By: Laura Trotta (BEng(Enviro), MSc(Enviro Chem))

It’s currently peak holiday season across much of Australia and many families are travelling to have their annual downtime. 

If you've never really thought about eco-friendly holidays, it may surprise you to know that you won't need to compromise on style or experiences. Simply follow our tips below to ensure your holiday is easy on the environment.

Before You Leave

  • Ensure all household appliances are turned off at the wall to minimise standby power consumption.
  • Empty and turn off your second fridge (if applicable) so you’re only running one while away. 
  • Set your automatic watering system to only water in the evenings to minimise evaporation.

Driving Holidays

  • Pack only what is necessary as the more you pack, the more fuel you will consume. Space cases are more aerodynamic than luggage on a roof rack or in a trailer.
  • Thoroughly sweep out the inside of your vehicle and wash the outside before you leave home, paying particular attention to the tyres and mud guards, to remove any mud or soil that can transport weed seeds.
  • Drive to the speed limit and pump your tyres up to 42psi to minimise fuel consumption.
  • If renting a vehicle, opt for smaller, more fuel efficient models (resist the luxury car upgrade!).

Flying Holidays

  • Offset your flights.
  • Pack your own snacks / sandwiches in reusable containers for consumption during the flight rather than eating highly packaged airline food.

Travelling with Baby

  • If using disposable nappies while on holiday, opt for biodegradable varieties such as Moltex. Use biodegradable nappy bags for soiled nappies only and organic/biodegradable wipes rather than the conventional variety.
  • Stay in self-catering accommodation so it’s easy to make your own food including baby purees (use the potato masher if no stick blender is present).

At Your Destination

  • Stay in registered eco-friendly accommodation if possible (see suggestions at base of article) or camp sustainably.
  • Use resources wisely as you would at home - keep showers short and turn off lights when not in use. 
  • Don’t stray from walking / 4WD tracks as this can damage delicate vegetation systems and cause erosion.
  • Do not feed local wildlife – keep them wild.
  • Use sustainably-sourced firewood for campfires rather than collecting your own from nearby scrub.
  • Observe Total Fire Ban days.
  • Participate in environmentally-friendly activities such as wind surfing, kite boarding, cycling, snorkelling, board games/cards, reading, walking/hiking, swimming or bird watching. Steer clear of activities such as sky diving, jet skiing, jet boating and 4WDing.
  • Leave the complimentary toiletries in your hotel room. These packaging-intense items usually end up straight in landfill or cluttering your bathroom cupboard. Instead, fill small reusable bottles with your own body products from home.
  • Buy local produce to save on food miles and support local business.

Returning Home

  • Take litter (or recyclables) away with you if no local disposal/recycling facilities exist.
  • Thoroughly sweep out the inside of your vehicle and wash the outside before you leave your holiday destination, paying particular attention to the tyres and mud guards, to remove any mud or soil that can transport weed seeds.

Ecotourism Destinations

Ecotourism is a blend of conservation and tourism: it’s planned to be sustainable, with the least possible impact on the landscape and environment being visited. As one of the fastest growing sectors of tourism worldwide, there is no shortage of quality eco-friendly holiday destinations and here’s a small number of quality destinations that we recommend:

Huon Bush Retreats is a carbon positive ecotourism village overlooking the Huon Valley in Tasmania’s beautiful south east, just 45km south of Hobart. Established in 2002 when private investors purchased and saved a forest earmarked for logging, Huon Bush Retreats funds the conservation of the forest it calls home. Guests can choose to stay in contemporary cabins or deluxe tipees. Camping and van sites are also available. All accommodation facilities have been built to harmonise with their environment and incorporate solar power, composting toilets and natural rainwater storage. Like the name suggests, this is a true retreat destination and a long list of organised activities simply doesn’t exist. You can walk the interpreted walking tracks and check out the abundant wildlife if you desire, or you can simply slow down and reconnect with yourself and the environment.
**Mention this article and children will stay FREE on your 2nd and any subsequent nights.**

Rawnsley Park Station is well worth a visit if you’re heading to the glorious Flinders Ranges in South Australia’s Outback. Located 430 north of Adelaide, Rawnsley Park is a working sheep farm come award-winning tourism facility overlooking the southern side of Wilpena Pound. The wide range of accommodation available ranges from campsites through to the most luxurious eco villas, making Rawnsley within everyone’s budget! Four-wheel drive tours, scenic flights, hot air ballooning and mountain bike hire are all available and there is a network of excellent bushwalking trails located on the property. I can personally recommend the Flinders Ranges as one of the most scenic and colourful landscapes in Australia and it’s a place that I return to time and time again. Rawnsley’s Woolshed restaurant also dishes up a yummy feed!

The Great Ocean Ecolodge is located within the grounds of The Cape Otway Centre for Conservation Ecology, at Cape Otway in Western Victoria. Adjoining the Great Otway National Park, wildlife abounds on the property. Delight in the koalas in the treetops or play a vital role in saving the Tiger Quoll. The Ecolodge is designed and operated sustainably, with solar power, solar hot water, pure rainwater and organic dining. All profits are reinvested into wildlife conservation so you can relax, unwind and do your bit for the local environment! Children are welcome.

O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is based in the World Heritage Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland, just 2 hours drive south west of Brisbane. Visitors can stay in a variety of accommodation from the guest house-style Rainforest Retreat through to the private luxury of self contained Mountain Villas. Couples and families will delight in the variety of activities on offer including bushwalking, Australia’s first Tree Top Walk, Segway Safari Tours, Birds of Prey Flight Show, guided 4WD tours and bird feeding. A 190m flying fox ride over the picturesque Morans Creek will thrill the young and young at heart!

Honeycomb Valley Farm in Nabiac is 3 hours drive north of Sydney and is an ideal farmstay for families or couples. Children and adults will be delighted by the variety of rare animal breeds farmed here, including miniature Galloway cattle, Saanen dairy goats, Suri alpacas and Black-headed dorper sheep. Check out the variety of rare breed chickens living in recycled caravans and enjoy food from the largest solar oven in Australia. All natural farm made balms and soaps using the farm's goat's milk, honey and beeswax are available for purchase so you can take some of Honeycomb Valley home with you.

About the Author: Laura Trotta (BEng (Enviro), MSc (Enviro Chem)) is an eco mum, environmental engineer and founder of Sustainababy. She currently lives in regional South Australia with her husband Paul and son Matthew. She lived in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland prior to SA and has travelled extensively throughout these States, generally through National Park walking trails with a heavy backpack. Her most memorable eco-friendly holiday was hiking the 8 day South Coast track in Tasmania (pre-motherhood).


CATEGORY: ecotourism, holiday, ideas, tips, Eco | POSTED BY: Meg Supel |