How to Travel Eco-Friendly as an Overlander

Anita Sukan

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In this article, I will provide you a guideline with great and easy suggestions on how to travel eco-friendly as an Overlander.

Firstly, you’ll find tips on energy efficiency and shopping. Secondly, I’ll talk about personal hygiene and share some great products with you.

In addition, I’ll cover the garbage issue and moreover, give you some general recommendations.

Energy efficiency

  • Drive eco-friendly
    In other words, avoid fast starts and stops, avoid idling, keep the tires properly inflated, combine trips, keep cargo light, stick to speed limit.
  • Park your rig
    When you’re in cities or villages let your rig rest for a day or two and explore the town by foot or with public transportation. This way, you’ll not only reduce your emissions but also you’ll much more get in touch with the local culture.
  • Plan your route ahead
    As a result you won’t drive extra kilometers, save gas and above all, even save money and time.
  • Pack light
    In addition to clogging the limited space you already have, extra weight causes the car to use more energy.
  • Compensate your carbon emissions by planting trees
    As an Overlander you’ll cross a great deal of kilometers and therefore cause a lot of emissions. Don’t get me wrong: this should not be a free pass for blowing out emissions but rather as a way to sensitize how much impact your emissions have on the environment.

    I support ReGreen as it has been founded by school kids in Austria. Moreover, the financing goes to meaningful projects in Rwanda and promotes local communities by increasing health standards and providing new jobs.

Eco-Friendly Shopping Behavior

  • Buy only what you really need
    Everything else is a waste of your precious travel budget and resources.
  • Avoid huge supermarkets and purchase meals, food and other products from local vendors
    Not only will you save some money as according to my own experience markets are cheaper, but you’ll definitely explore new meals and products which you wouldn’t find at a supermarket.
  • Always bring your own bag so you don’t have to use the plastic ones
    This is definitely a no-brainer on how to travel eco-friendly! In addition, for rice, flower and other dry ingredients, take your Tupperware to the store and have them refilled to avoid packaging. Eric and I often do that and even the sellers are always very positive about that!


  • Always use biodegradable soap for washing dishes when you are in nature
    Or even better, don’t use any soap at all! Eric has been equipped by ENJO with multiple washing and cleaning cloths which don’t need any soap at all. Therefore, they are not only excellent for traveling but also for normal use at home as they don’t need to be exchanged for years. Check out Eric’s blogpost about ENJO here.
  • Moreover, also for personal hygiene use biodegradable or natural soaps
    An even better option for Eric and me is Ghassoul because it’s very smooth to the skin and hair, very eco-friendly and comes wrapped only in carton. The one from LOGONA, which we use, and some other options you’ll find here:

Reduce garbage

  • Avoid plastic bags at all cost
    Especially in South America, people think that they do you a favor when wrapping everything in plastic so you’ll need to refuse it politely but firmly. You can even lead by example by always telling them „I am trying to live a plastic-free life in order to preserve our environment“. Learn that phrase in the native language and you’ll see that many people react to this statement in a positive way. In Spanish it’s: „Intento vivir mi vida sin plastico para conservar el medio ambiente.“
  • Leave every wildcamping spot cleaner than you first found it
    As you definitely know, there is almost no wildcamping spot without any garbage. So especially when you’re on a spot near a natural water source collect some karma points by picking up the garbage you find within 3 meters of your car and dispose them accordingly. Likewise, if you are taking a walk on the beach, take a bag with you and collect the litter. Also here, lead by example and you’ll see others will follow.
  • Put your garbage only in the designated garbage bins
    As a result, you avoid that your garbage is being scatterd by the wind and gets into natural water sources. Also your cigarette stubs don’t belong on the floor and for sure not in rivers or other open waters.
  • Get yourself a nice reusable water bottle
    Subsequently, don’t buy bottled water or bottled drinks in general. We’ve been traveling for 8 months already and we’ve had to buy water only a few tims. At all other times we filled up our 20 L potable water tank at gas stations (for free!). Below, you’ll find the bottle from Super Sparrow which I have and some great other options. 

General recommendations

  • Take time to get to know the culture
    In other words, don’t just cross one thing after the next off your bucket list. Inform yourself about the main insights of the country’s history, culture, politic and economic situation. As a result, you will have a much better understanding of why certain things work the way they work and why people behave the way they behave.
  • Vote with your dollar
    That is to say, where you spend your money and who you support with your dollars matters a great deal. So if you decide to explore new countries do that by consuming their local food, goods and services. Also, what sense does it make anyway to travel across the globe and drink that overpriced frappucino you have at home?
  • Above all, you’re a guest so behave the same way you would like your guests to behave.
    Respect the local laws, culture and nature. This also includes to smoke only in designated areas and don’t make loud noises when you’re in nature.

To clarify, understand that many countries in South America, Asia and Africa are simply not in the same prestigeous situation like the first-world countries where most Overlanders come from – namely Germany, Switzerland, USA, France, Canada etc. Therefore, I believe that we as Overlanders have a duty to not only preserve flora and fauna but also to subtly raise awareness among the locals.

To put it in a nutshell, be concious about your actions and remember that little things can go a long way!

Spread the word!

If you find this article on how to travel eco-friendly, collect some karma points and share it with your friends and travelers!

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