Leave No Trace Travel: the Ultimate Guide

Leave No Trace is about more than just saving the planet, it's about saving the people, too. Preserve the cultural, ecological, environmental and social integrity of the place we call home by practicing leave no trace at home and while traveling the world.
Prepared By:

Shannon Lowery

Writer & Traveler

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

To fully understand Leave No Trace travel, we must first understand the origins of this lifestyle movement. The seven principles of Leave No Trace have been clearly outlined by LNT.org, a nonprofit that focuses on education and resources for Leave No Trace practices. The seven principles are:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepar
  2. Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Others

    These principles were created with camping and outdoor activities in mind, but they can easily be applied to all activities, settings, and lifestyles, including travel! Sustainable and responsible tourism reduces the environmental, social, economic, and human impacts the tourism industry has in destination. Regenerative tourism encourages travelers and the tourism industry to have a positive impact on destinations, leaving a place better than it was before.

    Leave no trace travel preserves ecological and cultural standards

    Ways to Practice Leave No Trace Travel

    Applying just one of these Leave No Trace practices into your next travel adventure can make positively impact the world around you and your overall travel experience.


    Voluntourism can support destinations in many ways. No matter how you get involved, voluntourism is a great way to practice leave no trace travel. Consider these voluntourism ideas  during your next international trip:

    • Pick up trash during beach walks
    • Attend a performance supporting a nonprofit arts organization
    • Volunteer for disaster relief

    .Leave no trace travel preserves ecological and cultural standards

    Rethink Creature Comforts

    Having a refillable water bottle handy is a no-brainer when it comes to Leave No Trace travel. But what else can you do to eliminate waste? Here are some tips for reimagining responsible travel:

    • Look for green-certified lodging
    • Skip the hotel soaps
    • Use eco-friendly shampoo bars and refillable travel containers
    • Reuse the same towel
    • Keep showers short
    • Don’t use plastic straws
    • Pack your own reusable bag/sack
    • Shop repurposed luggage and travel gear made from recycled materials

    Leave no trace travel preserves ecological and cultural standards

    Spread the Wealth

    Bucket-list restaurants and hotels are popular for a reason, but there are plenty of lesser-known businesses that need your spending money, too. A few ways to help off-the-beaten path places and local economies benefit from your business are:

    • Stay at a family-owned or historic inn
    • Look for local guides and locally-owned tour companies
    • Venture into the non-touristy part of town
    • Ask a local for recommendations or alternatives to popular places

    Leave no trace travel preserves ecological and cultural standards

    How You Get Around

    How you get around a destination is half the fun of traveling! Live like a local by choosing these transit options when you travel:

    • Walk (Seems simple, but we can all be lazier than we’d like to admit sometimes.)
    • Electric scooter or bike share
    • Pedicabs
    • Bus or trolley
    • Light rail, subway or train

    Leave no trace travel preserves ecological and cultural standards

    Visit Respectfully

    The human aspect of Leave No tTrace travel involves cultural consideration. Here are some tips to sustainably traveling with social mindfulness:

    • Visit with respect and gratitude
    • Do your research on basic cultural customs and traditions 
    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you arrive
    • Be patient, workforce issues are real

    Spread the Word

    Last but not least, spread the word about Leave No Trace travel. These are some ways you can use your voice:

    • Share Leave No Trace ideas and content on your social media channels
    • Gently encourage and educate those around about Leave No Trace practices
    • Hold others and yourself accountable

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