Go Lightly: How to Travel Without Hurting the Planet

Nina Karnikowski’s latest book is a damn good toolkit for the Future Forward traveler

Nina Karnikowski in Morocco by Peter Windrim
Nina Karnikowski in Morocco by Peter Windrim

By Amulya Hiremath and Tansy Kaschak on 09.13.21

When the invitation for a 19-day private jet trip across Africa landed neatly into Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski’s inbox, she knew it was the chance of a lifetime. But, having spent her life chasing one destination after another, she also knew this was not going to be her kindest act towards our planet.

Nina Karnikowski at work India by Peter Windrim
Nina Karnikowski at work India by Peter Windrim
The book cover
The book cover

If the past 18 months have been filled with indoors time, they have also been a chance to reflect on how we should behave when out there in the world. After declining what sounded like the assignment of dreams, Nina authored ‘Go Lightly: How to travel without hurting the planet’, a practical guide to treading gently on the Earth.

Nina Karnikowski in Ethiopia by Peter Windrim
Nina Karnikowski in Ethiopia by Peter Windrim

Spread over ten chapters, covering everything from planning a trip to packing for it and how to nurture meaningful connections once we are back home, ‘Go Lightly’ is a handbook for the future forward traveler. There are old tricks with new twists — pack lightly but pack with purpose and strip it down for true sustainability — to current, important arguments: “Whose land am I on and is it appropriate for me to be here?”

Nina Karnikowski in Jaipur by Peter Windrim
Nina Karnikowski in Jaipur by Peter Windrim
Nina Karnikowski in Vietnam by Peter Windrim
Nina Karnikowski in Vietnam by Peter Windrim

Nina also included interviews with other progressive travel thinkers: Elizabeth Becker, journalist and author on avoiding mass tourism; Tanya Streeter, environmentalist on sustainable travel with kids; Céline Cousteau, conservationist and filmmaker on traveling with intent; Beks Ndlovu, Founder of African Bush Camps on supporting local communities.  

Nina Karnikowski at work Ethiopia waterfall by Peter Windrim
Nina Karnikowski at work Ethiopia waterfall by Peter Windrim

Through anecdotes and tips that can only be sourced from first-hand experiences, Nina brings almost ten years of travel writing wisdom to ‘Go Lightly’. Written in immersive yet succinct prose, she fuels a conversation that has never been more important and goes beyond the pages with recommendations of documentaries and books and a fool-proof packing list to help minimize waste and energy consumption on your next trip.

 

Nina Karnikowski in Udaipur by Peter Windrim
Nina Karnikowski in Udaipur by Peter Windrim

To get us on the track, we asked Nina to share her top 5 tips to go lightly:

1. GO SLOW
Taking fewer but longer trips lessens your carbon footprint (less transport), and gives you a better chance of giving back to local communities via your valuable travel dollars, and through exchanging information and knowledge.

2. GIVE BACK
Whether you’re getting involved in a conservation or rewilding program while you’re away, shedding light on a particular issue by talking about it or fundraising on your social media, or working on something like a permaculture farm, ‘going lightly’ is all about reciprocity.

3. CHOOSE LOCAL
According to the UNWTO, just 5 percent of money spent by tourists stays in the local community. But by choosing locally-owned hotels and restaurants, Indigenous guides and locally-made handicrafts, you can put your travel dollars directly into the pockets of locals.

4. FOCUS ON NATURE
By putting nature at the centre of your journeys, choosing things like hiking and biking trips, camping adventures and boat trips, you’ll feel more awe for the natural world, which will in turn encourage you to forgo your own interests for those of others and the planet.

5. GO PLASTIC-FREE
Almost every piece of plastic ever made is still on the planet, including 70 billion or so plastic water bottles. Do your bit to reduce disposable plastics by packing your reusable water bottle, stainless steel food container, and hemp tote for shopping and picking up trash.

 

Grab your copy of Go Lightly via Laurence King or Bookshop.org!

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