A good place to visit is a sacred place to live… and each place contains worlds of meaning beyond our travel postcards and selfies. But here’s the thing – as Covid-19 has shown us, we are, each of us, only as healthy as the least of us and our planet is.
The news is full of nature reemerging as we humans stay home. There are goats roaming the streets of Wales, and wild boars walking around the Israeli city of Haifa. And leatherback turtles are nesting again on the beaches of Phuket! In Jalandhar, India residents are in awe and taking photos of the Himalayan mountains which have not been seen for decades. Geoscientists report that even the earth itself is moving differently and vibrating less enabling them to hear more seismic noise.
Wellness clearly isn’t an individual effort. Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! It feels like a good day to talk about the earth and travel.
What is sustainable travel?
Sustainability is more than carbon offsets and the elimination of plastics. Sustainable travel encompasses conservation of natural resources, management of ecological balance, preservation of local communities, and protection of archaeological sites.
What can travelers do to help?
Our own travel choices are forces that protect the earth and the places we love and value. Travelers need to mindful of that and avoid over-tourism to preserve local cultures and natural resources.
We can help with our decisions – from when we travel, to who we spend our money with, to where we stay.
Overcrowded destinations often suffer from over-tourism, and we must be mindful not to adversely affect these beautiful places. To mitigate the effects of crowds, we can traveling during the off season or during what is called in the industry “shoulder season,” which is that in-between time between on and off season.
Everyone can explore the world in ways that safeguard ecosystems, preserve wildlife and secure geographic wonders.
Is sustainable travel truly possible?
Yes it is, and it’s getting easier every year!
The smartest and best travel suppliers know that their livelihood depends on conserving the wonders of the world, and are creating innovative ways to do that. Sustainable travel does not have to compromise our travel experiences; in fact, I’d argue, doing so enhances travel for us – and for future generations too.
I seek out value-based businesses that put these values first
That’s why I am a proud member of the new Virtuoso Sustainability Community that brings together partners and advisors who are passionate about sustainability.
That means hotels, resorts, transportation companies and tour operators that
have pristine inventory systems to minimize food waste (which is a big source of pollution).
seek out resources in their location to reduce transport costs
encourage and enable off-season tourism
work with local communities to provide educational and economic opportunity
honor the values and culture of places
innovate and lead with sustainability practices
Even if my clients are not asking for sustainable suppliers, as a travel advisor, I advise. And I am not shy about raising what is possible on this front.
Back in January, I learned at the NYTimes Travel Show a lot about what’s coming in the travel industry to support the earth.
Just one exciting example is the development of solar and battery power planes that will reduce fossil fuels use. These new type of engines options burn 20% less fuel which is better for our atmosphere, better for our experience, better for their bottom line. Then in February 2020 Delta Airlines announced a commitment to become the first carbon neutral airline in the world.
Examples of Sustainable Travel
One of my favorite river cruise lines, Amawaterways, has been on this effort already for a few years. To minimize their fleet’s carbon footprint, their river cruise ships have far more fuel-efficient engines to power the vessels, LED lighting onboard and insulated windows that reduce heating and cooling energy needs. Power locks reduce fuel consumption and noise levels while in port.
And their ships have water treatment plants onboard using a membrane technology which provides microfiltration and recycling of all water used onboard. AmaMagna, launched in 2019, runs with an innovative, even more fuel-efficient, eco-friendly engine design estimated to reduce fuel consumption by 20-25% and a new fresh water storage system to reduce chemical usage.
They have also long addressed the wellness of their guests with yoga and biking and other wellness amenities.
Richard Branson launched Virgin Voyages. I believe he will change the cruise industry in the same way that Cirque de Soliel forever altered the experience of going to the circus. And at the forefront of that is their mission : “an epic sea change for all.” This is not your grandmother’s cruise line in so many ways, but their focus on sustainability is a key one.
Virgin Voyages offers no food buffets, a huge source of food waste. And Branson has partnered with Climeon, a Sweden based company dedicated to converting ship engine heat to electricity to decrease fuel needs and are among the first cruise ships to use this technology. For more on their efforts, read their brochure This Sea Change is Real on sustainability and what they are doing differently.
Six Senses Resorts
Six Senses Resorts has long been a pioneer on the wellness front – for humans and for the earth. Neil Jacobs, CEO Six Senses Resorts, was presented with Leader in Sustainability at the 2017 Global Wellness Summit.
“For us, being environmentally friendly and socially responsible can be successfully wedded to uncompromisingly gorgeous hideaways.”
When you visit you can work as a marine conservationist with their marine researchers and biologists. You may have the opportunity to get involved in ongoing research projects, restoring seagrass beds, protecting turtles and manta rays, or replanting corals in one of coral nurseries.
1 Hotels has sustainability at the keystone of their brand. They base all their design, construction and operational decisions on that value and also engage and educate local communities. Click here for more.
Tour operator Big Five is another, and started their foundation, Spirit of Big Five Foundation, back in 2007. It aims to broaden the scope and depth of our support for wildlife conservation and habitat restoration, protecting cultural heritage and supporting poverty alleviation, education and healthcare initiatives in the places we visit. More on how they tour sustainably here.
Established in 2003, by global adventure travel company G Adventures’ Founder, Bruce Poon Tip, Planeterra Foundation is a non-profit organization that has contributed millions of dollars towards projects in areas of social enterprise, healthcare, conservation, and emergency response.
Travel Corporation, family of brands
The Travel Corporation (owner of brands such as Uniworld and U river cruises, Red Carnation hotel collection, Brendan Vacations for Ireland and Scotland and many more) founded the TreadRight Foundation 12 years ago to ensure a positive impact on the planet. They are one of my top preferred suppliers.
Many of these travel offerings are now available
with some very remarkable savings.
If you’re interested in investigating what’s possible, with flexibility, let’s chat.
You can book now and postpone if necessary but secure amazing savings regardless.