Nina Karnikowski is an Australian travel writer, published author and sustainability advocate, and this May, she will be adding a new accolade to her list of accomplishments: “Go Lightly.” This cutting-edge novel will be an essential handbook for anyone wishing to travel in an eco-friendly way without causing further harm to our beloved planet Earth.
You might be wondering who Karnikowski is, and if she is reputable. Having traveled to over 60 different countries, Karnikowski’s career as a travel writer has given her a niche, first-hand experience with how to travel “lightly.”
From Mongolia to the Namib Desert to the icy terrain of Antarctica and back again to her roots in Bryon Bay, Australia, Karnikowski has seen it all. Through these travels, she has uncovered sustainable travel tips — and now, with her handy book, she is sharing these Earth-healing recommendations with the world.
As Karnikowski’s latest Instagram comment proves, completely sustainable travel is a dystopian ideal. Her husband chose the title “Go Lightly,” and she instantly gravitated toward it, as it avoided the utopian word “sustainable” completely. As she noted, “Any kind of travel is inherently unsustainable. What we’re trying to do is move towards better — not perfect — ways of seeing our precious planet. Which includes looking for accommodation that will help us ‘go lightly.’”
What Is “Go Lightly” About?
These accommodations for “lighter travel” include tips on how to pack with more consideration by prioritizing the necessities and packing lightly, how to implement mindful practices into each travel day to make them truly worthwhile and eco-friendly, how to actively consider your carbon footprint, how to protect wildlife on your journeys as well as how to electively support green companies to leave the less environmentally-friendly ones behind.
Beyond exploring these environmentally-savvy travel topics, Karnikowski also encourages her readers to embark on eco-friendly adventures, such as biking, boating, camping, kayaking, hiking and swimming. She couples these individual experiences with advice on how to connect with other cultures on your travels to truly expand your travel horizons.
Delving beyond advice for “lighter travel,” Karnikowski acknowledges the deep history and modern expansion of the eco-friendly travel movement. She recognizes some of the founding fathers of the eco-adventure movement, such as Caitlin Garcia-Ahern, the cultural conservationist and founder of Thread Caravan, who advocated for unifying creativity, education, culture and environment through eco-friendly trips and activities. These pursuits include Panama sailing and embroidery, natural dyeing and weaving in Oaxaca, Guatemalan textile and indigo workshops in Japan as well as making mezcal from agave plants in Mexico.
Karnikowski also credits Rob Greenfield, an adventurer and sustainability activist, who was named “The Robin Hood of Modern Times” by France 2 TV. Greenfield has truly embodied Gandhi’s famous quote to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” For one year, Greenfield grew or foraged 100% of his food, and for 30 days, he wore every piece of trash he created as clothing. He has also vowed to live simply by earning less than the federal poverty threshold and living without a bank account, credit card, monthly bill, insurance or debt.
Karnikowski’s Top 10 Sustainable Travel Habits
Karnikowski has followed in the footsteps of these sustainable, eco-travel gurus by revolutionizing her travel habits with her top 10 “lighter travel” tips that anyone can easily embrace.
1. Plan Slower Adventures
Warp-speed travel has become the norm of the 21st century, but Karnikowski challenges this notion by suggesting less frequent yet lengthier vacations. With this tactic, when you do travel, taking longer trips allows you to savor the journey and truly appreciate the culture of your chosen destinations.
2. Travel Closer To Home
Whether you’re taking a trip to the mountains that run through your home state, going camping in your backyard or staying in a nearby beach house, the places close to your home can be just as beautiful and special as a destination location. Explore your roots, your home, your country.
3. Pack Mindfully
Although it might seem negligible, the heavier you pack your bag, the heavier the plane, the train and the car, which only adds to the fuel needed to make your choice of transportation chug along. Pack minimally and consciously. Pack second-hand thrifted garments and steer clear from partaking in fast fashion — the planet’s second biggest polluter after the oil industry.
4. Clip Your Wings — Limit Planes
Travel by train and revel in the intricacies of the countryside that you would have otherwise missed if you’d opted for a plane. Trains use 50% less fuel than planes, and their carbon emissions aren’t released right into the upper atmosphere like the emissions of planes. Opt for renewable energy whenever you can — go green.
5. Go Plastic Free
Plastic-free living has become increasingly popular across the globe, but there is still a long way to go. Pack reusables, such as insulated water bottles, food containers or hemp tote bags. Don’t dump your trash in your gorgeous travel destinations; leave them pristine and beautiful.
6. Choose Local
Funnel your hard-earned travel funds into the small, locally owned hostels, cafes, shops and restaurants. If you really want to go the extra mile, choose eco-friendly companies that use local, organic, ethical products, supplies and food. Your money has power — yield it wisely.
7. Share Consciously
Don’t perpetuate unethical, un-environmentally friendly tourism on your social media accounts. Instead, inspire your followers to make better, eco-friendly choices when they travel by sharing useful tidbits that will inspire others to “go lightly.”
8. Shop Carefully
Shop locally, buy handcrafted and be willing to spend extra money on quality products. These unique treasures by local artisans are worth the price and will last you a lifetime, adorning your home and reminding you of your eco-friendly travels.
9. Respect Animals
Treat animals with respect. Any human behavior that forces animals to behave in opposition to their natural instincts — like riding camels in India, cuddling baby tigers in Thailand, feeding human food to native animals or fishing and hunting for sport — should be avoided at all costs.
10. Give Feedback
Don’t be afraid of advancing the eco-friendly travel message. Send those difficult emails to hotels, businesses and companies that were not attempting to minimize their carbon footprint, and find alternatives to single-use plastics or greenwash in general.
Ultimately, Karnikowski’s top 10 travel tips and her “Go Lightly” handbook all boil down to the famous Gandhi quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” We have the power to reduce our carbon footprint by traveling sustainably, and we have the potential to inspire others to do the same.