We are all trying to do our part to help this planet, and sometimes, when you love to travel, there is a pang of guilt as you book a flight, rent a car, or buy a water bottle. While there are plenty of ways to offset your carbon footprint while you travel, a big way to offset it is to travel to environmentally friendly places. Here are our top picks for sustainable travel.
|South and Central America
|Ecuador and the Galapagos
South and Central America
Over ninety percent of Costa Rica’s electricity comes from renewable resources, and a large amount of land in the country is protected, making it a top sustainable destination. You’ll find plenty of sustainable activities- like hiking, lazing on the beach, ziplining, kayaking, diving and more.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel Belmar
One of the top hotels in the world, Hotel Belmar prizes itself for its sustainability. Sustainable practices include plenty of windows for natural light, showerheads that use 65% less water, a biodigester to treat wastewater and produce biogas for water heating, locally produced organic food, solar panels, and more.
Ecuador and the Galapagos
Ecuador faces the challenge of deforestation but has started to try to curb it- and one way to do that is with sustainable tourism. Spots like Mashpi, the Galapagos, and Yasuni are known for their biodiversity, making them unique spots to visit and experience natural beauty at its finest.
Recommended Hotel: Mashpi Lodge
With hundreds of wildlife species at your front doorstep, Mashpi Lodge was built using techniques to preserve the forest around it. Staffed by locals, you will feel like you are living in the forest with a stay here. Check out the Dragonfly Canopy Gondola for stunning views of the forest.
Like Ecuador, Peru has done a lot in recent years to save its country’s ecosystem, including more sustainable options for tourists who want to see its natural beauty. Try your hand at community-based rural tourism to get a true taste of native Peruvian culture. Tour companies like Aprus Peru provide sustainable tours of the country.
Recommended Hotel: Las Qolqas Eco Resort
Located near Machu Picchu, Las Qolqas Eco Resort is glamping at its finest. Tents are thermally efficient, powered by solar energy, and locally sourced, organic food is served.
Bhutan has restricted tourism to remain as sustainable as possible, allowing just 200,000 tourists to enter every year. To maintain this, all tourists need a visa, but for those looking for the ultimate sustainable vacation, it will be worth getting.
Recommended Hotel: Gangtey Lodge Bhutan
Gangtey Lodge claims sustainability is “not just a word, but a way of life.” They plant over 100 trees yearly, all waste is recycled, composted, or carefully disposed of, wastewater is recycled to water plants, and energy usage is monitored.
Borneo has not yet succumbed to mass leisure tourism, so this eco-tourist spot will give you the sustainable vacation you crave. Explore the rainforest, view orangutans in the wild, view the jungle from the river, or hike Mount Kinabalu.
Recommended Hotel: Borneo Rainforst Lodge
The Borneo Rainforest Lodge is located in the conservation area in the jungle of the Danum Valley. All meals are included in your stay, and sustainable efforts include using zero chemical detergents, solar energy, a waste management system, and using local products to reduce its carbon footprint.
Twenty-four percent of Nepal’s land is protected, and they have started a push for nature-based tourism. The natural beauty of the Himalayas and various lakes throughout the land make for a stunning, sustainable visit.
Recommended Hotel: Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge
Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge strives to “ensure that all its operations have the smallest negative environmental impact possible.” They do this through energy management (solar power, efficient lightbulbs, etc.), water and waste management, limited chemical use, using local suppliers, and more.
An African safari is a bucket-list item for many people, and Rwanda not only will tick that box, but will tick the box of sustainability as well. In recent years, Rwanda has started to push for creating a more climate-resilient environment to curb the densely populated region. See gorillas, monkeys and more on a safari, and explore volcanoes.
Recommended Hotel: The Retreat
Stay in luxury during your Rwandan vacation at The Retreat. With a commitment to sustainability, you can have your own villa, all while enjoying amenities provided by local suppliers.
Forty percent of Botswana’s land is dedicated to parks and wildlife, and the country is working on becoming more sustainable. Join a safari to truly experience the wonders of the land, and view the wildlife.
Recommended Hotel: Chobe Game Lodge
The only only permanent safari lodge located along the Chobe River, Chobe Game Lodge embraces the company’s Environmental Management Plan, through energy conservation, water stewardship, recyclying, and waste management.
Forty percent of New Zealand’s energy supply comes from renewable sources, and it produces just 0.2% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions- for this and many other reasons, New Zealand is one of the most sustainable countries in the world. On top of that, there are many eco-friendly activities to do during your visit: hiking, taking in the amazing scenery, visiting “Middle Earth,” and more.
Recommended Hotel: Wairakei Resort Taupo
A self-sufficient operation, the Wairakei Resort, Taupo offers luxury accommodations while helping the environment. With an on-site sewage treatment facility, organic waste turned into soil, uses compostable or reusable products, uses renewable energy, and dedicates a large part of its land to forestry.
Like New Zealand, Iceland is one of the most sustainable countries in the world. The country has made it a mission to become carbon neutral by 2040 and free of fossil fuels by 2050, making this country a top spot for sustainability. With hot springs, awe-inspiring views of the Aurora Borealis, and easy access from the United States, it has quickly become a hot spot for American tourists.
Recommended Hotel: The Greenhouse Hotel
The Greenhouse Hotel makes it a mission to be eco-friendly- from using locally sourced products, minimizing usage and waste, reusing and upcycling furniture, recycling and more.
Finland is one of the top countries for adopting sustainable policies. Take an arctic snowshoe walk, view the northern lights, or take a nap in the middle of the forest.
Recommended Hotel: Haltia Lake Lodge Nature Boutique Hotel & Glamping
Set in the picturesque backdrop of the Nuuksio National Park, the Haltia Lake Lodge received the Best Sustainable Hotel: Europe 2022, and hope to be completely carbon neutral by 2025. They run off of 100% wind energy, utilize little to no plastic and use local vendors for products.
Scandinavia is known for their green efforts, and Sweden is leading the way, setting a goal to be fossil-free by 2045. To keep your carbon footprint low, you can explore the outdoors: by dogsled with Jokkmokkguiderna, or by horses with Ofelas Islandshästar & Guideservice, go kayaking or canoeing, and explore caves with Kullabergsguiderna.
Recommended Hotel: Treehotel
A social media influencer’s dream, the Treehotel offers the closest you will likely come to living in the trees. Their Bird’s Nest looks just like that – a giant bird’s nest in the midst of the trees. Built in the middle of the forest, yet without ruining the natural surroundings, Treehotel uses green hydroelectric power, they have combustion toilets (which are odorless), and wastewater is collected.
Austria has set a goal to be completely dependent on renewable energy sources by 2030, leading the way to carbon neutrality by 2040. A hotspot for skiing, the ski lifts of Austria’s mountains are powered by renewable energy, eighty percent of its farms are organic, public transportation is abundant and uses electric vehicles as much as possible, and the natural beauty is abundant.
Recommended Hotel: Henriette Stadthotel Vienna
Chemical-free cleaning, energy efficiency, water preservation, organic food, and local suppliers are all part of what makes Henriette one of the best sustainable hotels in Austria. The bedding is made from natural products, with extra thick mattresses for the most comfortable sleep.
The most sustainable country in the world, Denmark cannot be left off this list. From usage of renewable energy, water management, waste recycling, and green transportation, Denmark does all it can to be sustainable. Copenhagen is on track to become the first carbon neutral city in 2025. Rent a bike during your stay, visit Copenhil, a waste-to-energy plant in the Copenhagen with a skislope on top, or check out the island of Bornholm, one of the most sustainable islands in the world.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel Ottilia
Hotel Ottilia in Copenhagen focuses on sustainability as one of their core values. You’ll see this with their 100% wind power electricity, usage of 90-100% organic food for breakfast, and no disposable plastic products anywhere in the facility.
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