In the past, hearing the phrase ‘eco-travel’ likely conjured up images of backpacking along some earthy trail or setting up a tent on open terrain.
You probably never envisioned white sandy beaches, deep blue oceans, or a gleaming beacon of 5-star luxury beckoning you to paradise. Sure, there are still plenty of adventure tours and gritty excursions worthy of beef jerky and a walking stick, but you don’t have to be the Crocodile Hunter to enjoy a green vacation. The sustainable tourism movement has expanded traveling horizons, making an eco-friendly trip idyllic for jet setters and nature wanderers alike.
Sustainable tourism is an industry committed to making a low impact on the natural environment and local culture, while helping to generate income and employment for locals. So, by taking a sustainable vacation, your rest and relaxtion leads to the economic health and social development of cultures around the world, while helping the environment to thrive in the process. Explore the many ways that you can travel ‘green’ and start planning for a journey that brings peace to you, your destination, and the earth.
Here’s a toolkit of eco-friendly travel services to help customize your go-green getaway — and do it with style and sustainability:
RezHub.com is a one-stop travel resource for research and reservations with green hotels, hybrid rentals, and an array of options for offsetting your carbon footprint. They also donate a portion of all profits from green travel to an earth friendly organization.
Sustainable Travel International offers a unique destination guide to help you make responsible travel choices with environmentally-conscious options based on your desired vacation experience from biking to beach bumming and everything in between.
Better World Club is the nation’s only eco-friendly auto club, offering auto and bicycle roadside assistance, travel and insurance services. They also boast an impressive list of eco-discounts, making it even easier to go green while saving your green.
Planeta.com is a practical guide to eco-tourism. Their service helps to create incentives for communication, opportunities for conversation and rewards for participation among eco-conscious travelers and locals. Plus, their World Travel Directory makes it easy to select from the greenest vacation spots around.
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is the world’s oldest and largest ecotourism organization with an extensive searchable database of businesses and service providers committed to responsible travel, and is the premier source for global eco-travel knowledge and advocacy, serving members in over 90 countries.
If you’re seeking more than just a pleasure cruise, you might consider options like Agritourism World, offering opportunities to work with food production, from organic produce to wine, in a rural setting in the U.S. or abroad, or Voluntourism.org, a service that helps you identify and plan volunteer-centric vacations ranging from social justice causes to work exchanges at a yoga or retreat center regionally or internationally.
Even non-traditional spots like Bosnia are booming as organizations like Green Visions seek to provide a slice of Bosnian hospitality, nature and cultural heritage to suit any taste, aimed at thwarting the rapid destruction of their picturesque landscape, and bolstering their socio-economic independence.
With so many options for infusing environmental responsibility with entertaining and life-enriching experiences, there’s no reason not to indulge in a green escape that’s right for you. And it’s becoming more critical than ever. While effects such as over-used trails and emissions from auto- and plane-travel are obvious, there are other elements of tourism that are less high profile like economic dependence on foreigners and loss of cultural identity. Sustainable tourism can be an important tool for conservation, providing the necessary funds to help counteract years of damage, as well as providing jobs and additional sources of revenue for the communities you visit.
So, whether you travel light or heavy, your suitcase will be packed full of social consciousness — and that’s one thing you won’t have to check at customs!