Is there such a thing as sustainable travel? We all know that planes are terrible for the environment, and in an ideal world we would get enough kicks from staycations to our favourite lakeside towns to keep us motivated through the years hard slog, but we're only human. For many of us, travel is important. It expands our horizons, inspires us to be better, makes us more empathetic, and gives our brains a much needed break from the daily grind so we can be replenished and ready to kick butt when we return.
Whilst traveling in a fully sustainable way is tricky to say the least, it’s still important to travel consciously. In the same way you can vote with your cash to encourage a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry, it’s possible to support awesome, forward-thinking companies whilst booking your travels. There are loads of websites out there working hard to initiate change, so why not make your voice heard and your cash count?
We've compiled eight amazing resources you can use to make booking your travels as mindful, sustainable and enriching as they can possibly be (until carbon-neutral planes are invented.)
Visit.org | Plan excursions around causes you care about
As mom used to say when you were a kid, if all your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too? There’s no reason to just go along with the crowd when it comes to trips, activities and excursions in your destination of choice. Visit.org is a certified B Corp that allows you to book experiences specifically related to the causes you care about, such as environmentalism and human rights; not only will you be more inspired, informed and engaged on your trip, but your hard-earned cash gets fed back into the issues that get your blood pumping. You can choose from hundreds of locations all across the globe, and hey, if you want to do the jumping off a cliff thing? Go for it, you're an adult.
OneSeed Expeditions | Invest in local business
OneSeedExpeditions is a website that invests 10% of its total revenue back into small-scale entrepreneurs around the world in the form of microcredit. Booking your expeditions through this mission-led start-up them ensures your money goes into supporting real people in the places you visit, and they have some amazing trips on offer! Think luxury safaris in the Tanzanian Serengeti, Peruvian adventures with a focus on authentic cuisine, and guided treks through the himalayan foothills.
Glooby | Compare the eco way
It’s second nature for most of us to spend hours comparing different flights and hotel deals before our holidays. With Glooby, you can do all of this but also bring sustainability into the equation by checking for the most fuel-efficient routes and eco-friendly hotels! This is a great way to ensure sustainability is always up there with those other important factors while you book.
Railbookers | Take the scenic route
Yes, rail travel is slow; that’s what makes it a far more interesting, scenic and even romantic way to get around. Whilst driving doubles your emissions compared with plane travel, taking the train cuts them roughly in half according to National Geographic’s Green Guide. Of course it's not possible to get everywhere you want to by train, but if you're looking for inspiration why not try browsing through Railbookers for incredible holidays you might never have thought of before? You can go on some truly iconic journeys, such as the Bernina Express through the spectacular scenery of Switzerland, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express or the Rocky Mountaineer.
The Man in Seat 61 | Get around like a local
If you don't want to commit to an entire rail holiday, you can still interact far more meaningfully with the land and the locals within your destination of choice by getting around on public transport as much as possible. It's cheaper, more exciting and far more interesting than driving or flying! The Man in Seat 61 is an amazing resource built by traveler Mark Smith in his spare time that has the lowdown on local trains all over the world. There's nothing like having an adventure on holiday, just be sensible, safe, and do your research beforehand using this amazing site.
WWOOF | Get your hands dirty
For the more hard-core, budget-conscious or younger travelers who want to stay longer and really get to know the country, WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a cultural and educational experience like no other. The site links host families with volunteers, so in exchange for food and board, you and other volunteers can experience daily life on an organic farm. Joining this sustainable, global community in amazing destinations such as Australia and Latin America is a real once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Encircled | Pack like a pro
What you take with you and leave behind is huge part of conscious travel. Of course it’s great to take your trusty reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go, so long as you quadruple-check any water is safe to drink. When it comes to packing clothes, take tips from the minimalists and capsule wardrobe-ers like My Green Closet so that you can have a lighter, easier and altogether less impactful trip. We're a little bit in love with Encircled, our latest clothing find whose products aren't just brilliant for travel but for when you get home too! Their best-selling Chrysalis Cardi is made from durable, sustainable Tencel; it’s a dress, scarf and cardigan in one that can be worn seven ways, and it’s surprisingly elegant. The Travelista Hairband is great too, which can be worn wide or thin to hold back your hair as well as doubling as a sleep mask.
Pro tip! To keep clothing fresh without overusing the washing machine, try washing them whilst you shower with a little tube of Dr Beckmann's Travel Wash, or Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap, our preferred eco-friendly option.
Climate Care | Offset your carbon
We know that offsetting your carbon is not the ideal solution, and it also doesn’t mean you should fly everywhere for the sake of it. If you’re going to do it anyway, you may as well invest in some environmental projects. Climate Care is a great and well trusted website where you can calculate your emissions, browse through different schemes and get great information as well as tips for shrinking your carbon footprint.
We’d love to know in the comments if there are any great resources for booking your travels that we’ve missed out here. You can also learn a whole lot more over at Sustainable Travel International, where you can also take the 10 Million Better pledge and help improve ten million lives through tourism and travel!