Here's How to Leave No Trace when You're Renting a Van

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a fellow nature-lover. You appreciate the Earth and admire its beauty, and you probably know it’s up to us to maintain that beauty. Whether you’re going for a picnic in your local park or camping in the backcountry, it’s easy to unknowingly damage the places you love to visit. The seven Leave No Trace Principles were designed to protect the outdoors and teach us how to enjoy nature responsibly. At Cabana, we want to make sure the lands we love are around for generations to come. Here’s how to embrace the Leave No Trace principles when traveling with your Cabana:

Principle 1: Plan Ahead and Prepare

To protect yourself and the land, it’s important to put some thought into your trip before taking off. A little research about the area you’re visiting, the regulations, and the weather will go a long way in ensuring a smooth trip –– and will help you avoid unnecessary harm. Because so many amenities are included with Cabana, the amount of preparation for cooking and cleanliness are minimized, but it’s still best to plan your meals, minimize waste, and pack the appropriate gear for whatever adventure you’re hoping to find. 

Principle 2: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Careless hiking or camping can damage vegetation or communities of organisms. When hiking in popular areas, stay on the trails that have already been created. It’s better to continue to use these well-made trails than for every group of hikers to forge their own, increasing the amount of damage. When traveling through pristine areas, be mindful of the type of surfaces you’re touching. It’s better to tread over rocks and sand, or safely travel over ice and snow, than over vegetation, living soil, or valuable desert water supplies such as mud puddles. In areas without trails, it’s best to avoid creating a path others will follow.

When camping, one should first follow the guidelines of the area and camp in approved spaces. Camping in a Cabana is easy because you don’t have to worry about where to set up your kitchen or the best path to the bathroom. Like hiking, it’s best to camp in spaces that are already highly impacted instead of damaging new areas. If you are camping in a pristine area, the rule of thumb is to stay at least 200 feet away from water, and clean up after yourself to avoid creating a campsite for others.

Principle 3: Dispose of Waste Properly

The things you leave behind will affect other campers, the water, and the wildlife. “Pack it in, pack it out” is a good rule to live by. It goes without saying that trash should never be left in nature, but be thoughtful about how you dispose of trash and food waste. Even “organic litter” like an orange peel or pistachio shell shouldn’t be left for animals. Washing dishes and using the toilet in the Cabana makes disposing of wastewater and human waste much easier. For more information on disposing of waste when camping, read here.

Principle 4: Leave What You Find

This rule requires little explanation: leave areas as you found them. Try to leave a campsite in the same condition as when you arrived, and avoid hammering, cutting, or carving in trees. Remember that you are likely one of many many visitors. Picking a couple flowers may not seem harmful, but if every camper thought this way it could seriously damage the vegetation. Leave natural objects and artifacts for others to enjoy, and take a photo instead.

Photo Credit: Ryan Stone

Principle 5: Minimize Campfire Impacts

There are many factors to consider when deciding if you should build a campfire. It is recommended to cook with a stove instead of relying on a campfire, because a shortage of firewood, rules against burning, and weather conditions are just some of the factors that may prevent you from building a campfire. All Cabana rentals come with a kitchen, so you won't need to worry about building a fire for cooking purposes. If you choose to build a fire, it’s best to do so in a designated fire ring at your campsite. For information about safely building and cleaning up fires, read here.

Principle 6: Respect Wildlife

For your safety and the animals’ well being, observe wildlife from afar. Don’t frighten or feed animals, no matter how friendly they appear. Contact with young animals may cause the parents to abandon them, and scaring animals may prevent them from getting the food or water they need. If you see a sick or injured animal, notify a game warden. Remember that you are a visitor in their home, and utilize the zoom lens on your camera!

Principle 7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors

There’s nothing like a quiet hike with a pristine view –– and nothing disrupts this like noisy travelers or forgotten trash. Be mindful of how your actions affect others so everyone can enjoy nature. If you value solitude on your camping trips, avoid busy weekends and consider traveling outside of the area’s peak season. For more guidance on how to be courteous on trails and at campsites, read here. In general, following the rules above will make you a naturally considerate camper.

With Cabana, it’s easy to have a spontaneous yet safe adventure. With so much provided for you, just a little extra thought about the impact of your actions is needed. For more information about how to travel and Leave No Trace, visit the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

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