Simple Ways to Travel Sustainably

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After being shut in our homes for a year and seeing the world begin to repair itself, we’ve had the opportunity to reflect upon our impact as travelers and whether it’s a positive one. Moving forward, people are thinking more about sustainability and how to travel more eco-consciously. Being a sustainably-conscious traveler doesn’t mean vowing never to take another flight or only pitching a tent in the middle of nowhere. It’s all about balance, reducing the negative impacts of tourism, and maximizing the benefits for the communities, ecosystems, and individuals. Travelling creates more empathy, understanding, and passion for protecting the world we enjoy.

But where do you start? Sometimes it can feel overwhelming when you start to consider calculating your carbon footprint and carbon offsetting. Fortunately, there are some small simple things you can do to start making a positive impact on every step of your journey.

Choosing A Destination

If you’re still deciding where to go and don’t have your heart set on a particular place, then considering the sustainability of the destination can factor into that decision process. Picking places that are committed to sustainability not only supports their efforts but also signals to the world what kind of initiatives are important to travelers.

standing in front of the beautiful view of lush green mountains nad blue lake in the Azores Portugal

[Photo credit: Ann via Shared Adventures- read about her trip to the Azores here]

What to Bring

Packing consciously is an easy way to change your carbon emissions. Normally when we travel our single-use plastic consumption tends to climb, but there are a few simple things you can do to minimize that effect.

open suitcase with camera, clothes and beachy hat next to some green leaves

[Photo Credit: STIL via Unsplash]

  • Packing Light: limiting the weight you carry on the plane/train/car reduces the amount of fuel used. Bring a simple color palette that you can easily mix & match!
  • Reusables: This is where you can really cut down on single-use plastics. Plus, travel versions of these items can be collapsible so they won’t take up much space in your bag!
    • Take a water bottle, metal or bamboo utensils & containers for snacks
    • Bring a large tote bag for all your shopping
    • Decant shampoos & soaps from your big bottles at home or go solid with shampoo bars that can go in your carry-on!
  • Reef-Safe Sunscreen: Many of the sunscreens available have chemicals that harm the delicate ocean reefs, so be sure to choose a reef-safe sunscreen that will protect the local eco-system!
  • E-Sim: See if your phone is e-sim compatible and use the electronic option instead of getting a one-time-use sim card when you land.

Getting There

Sometimes you need to take a plane to get to the other side of the world. While flying is well-documented for its high carbon emissions, when your destination is thousands of miles away (or if you’re seeing multiple destinations in one trip) there are still a few things you can do to reduce your footprint.

  • Non-stop flights: One-quarter of airplane emissions come from landing and taking off, so cutting your number of connections makes a big difference. A recent study found that “On average, non-stop routes reduced carbon emissions by roughly 100 kg/person relative to the next best connecting option”.  Remember that a non-stop flight is different from a direct flight and only a trip that doesn’t land mid-journey will be effective here.
  • Take the train: Once you get to your international destination, using a train to get from place to place is extremely effective. Generally, even diesel trains produce 84% less carbon than flying. According to the European Environment Agency, taking the Eurostar from London to Paris instead of a plane cuts up to 90% of the CO2 emissions! While there are several factors to consider including distance, type of train, and the energy it uses, trains are nearly always the best option over short to medium distances.

While You’re There- Think Local

Sustainability isn’t just about the environment and nature, it’s also about the people and the cultures. Being thoughtful and respectful of the locals and their homes will not only preserve the destinations you love but you’ll also forge deeper connections.

Getting Around

  • Walk, bike and take public transport! Many cities have bike-shares available to get you from place to place.
  • If you need to rent a car to explore the countryside choose a small electric car. It reduces emissions and makes it easier to drive those narrow country roads.


  • Choose experiences and tours from locals that immerse you in the culture and put money back into the community. Try a cooking or craft class!
  • Do a little research into the local customs and traditions, learn a little bit of the language, and increase the positive interactions you have with the local people.
happy man cooking with fire

[Photo Credit: Marissa via Shared Adventures- read about their escape to Thailand (and this Thai Cooking Class) here]

an overhead view of a table with meat, cheeses and breads in bologna Italy

[Photo Credit: Alicia via Shared Adventures- read about their escape to Italy and how they stumbled upon this small restaurant in Bologna here]


  • Support community artisans and vendors when souvenir shopping. Go for the hand-crafted unique pieces over buying too many ‘trinkets.’
  • Order food like a local- it’s more likely to be in season, fresh, and locally sourced. Often, the best meals are from locally owned hot spots rather than a big chain

Travel Slowly

  • Take your time and focus on just a few places – get to know the favorite local spots, contribute more to the local economy, and find those hidden gems that can only be found by stumbling upon them.
  • Travel in the off-season. It’s tempting to go to the most talked-about spots, but they can suffer from over-tourism. If you have your heart set on seeing a specific popular destination, go in the shoulder season to help minimize overcrowding

Luckily it’s becoming easier and easier to be sustainably conscious when we travel. Implementing these simple ideas will already make a big difference. If you’re excited to focus on sustainability in your travels let us know! We can help you find the perfect environmentally-friendly hotels and local experiences to really round out your sustainable vacation.

Travel Trends for 2021 and Beyond

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Travel interest is up, vacation inquiries are increasing, and it’s clear that people are feeling hopeful. As virus numbers decline, and vaccination percentages increase, we’ll see more and more people getting back out into the world. But travel will no doubt look different than it has before.

We’ll likely be wearing masks, taking tests, and ready to show proof of vaccinations for the next year or two. But what else will be different about the travel landscape? This question is top of mind right now for travelers, those of us in the travel industry, and anyone in the media who covers travel trends. We’ve done a quick survey of what the various “in-the-know” sources are predicting, and here are the trends that seem to be a common thread:

A Focus on Hygiene, Health & Wellness

The pandemic underlined the need for excellent cleanliness standard, and travel suppliers across the board stepped up their protocols in 2020 to ensure our safety. Refreshingly, it looks like health will continue to be a priority for these companies. Hotels are improving and expanding their contactless check-in. Airlines will likely continue their thorough cleaning schedules. Both are elevating staff training and using improved cleaning tools. How companies demonstrate their commitment to our health and safety will be a top priority when deciding who to travel with in the future.

This past year has also brought increased stress levels and a host of mental health challenges. We expect that 2021 travelers will use their vacations to focus on relaxation, rejuvenation and restoring a sense of well-being. From hosting themed wellness retreats, to providing more outdoor experiences, hotels and resorts are committed to finding ways to take care of guests’ mental and physical health.

Nature & Space

aerial Salish lodge and spa sitting atop the large waterfall in washington state

The classic road-trip vacation gained huge popularity in 2020 as a way to enjoy nature, and still have some control over your health bubble. The need for wide-open spaces remains high among those considering where to travel in the coming year. Remote locations, of course, make it easier to social distance, but beyond that, breathing in some fresh air and reconnecting with nature does wonders for your mental and physical health.

( Photo Credit: Salish Lodge & Spa – read more about the Lodge and other luxury remote resorts here!)

a couple sitting on the back terrace of their overwater bungalow with private jacuzzi and direct access to the sea in the Maldives

Remote locations are only part of this trend. There is also a growing interest in single-residence accommodations. Everything from private villas, and stand-alone casitas to unique spaces like tree-houses or over-water bungalows. Single-residence spaces add an element of exclusivity and luxury to the travel experience, and also make it easier to maintain distance between groups. Many resorts and hotels have committed to offering more stand-alone lodging options, along with private excursions and experiences. Mixing wellness and privacy with much-needed fresh air, places outside of the big tourist hubs will be the top destinations of 2021.

(Photo Credit: via Unsplash)

Green & Sustainable Travel

The impact of over-tourism on delicate ecosystems has been an ongoing concern and, with the COVID lockdowns, a window of opportunity opened for local governments to take action towards better conservation. Moving forward, you’re likely to see destinations encouraging you to try new and different sights or experiences, rather the perennial favorites that attract big crowds. They’ll be making better use of their spaces and spreading out the visitor traffic. Iceland, for example, is opening a new “Sky Lagoon” to give visitors a second option to the oft-crowded Blue Lagoon. Destinations are also encouraging people to slow down, stay a bit longer, and explore and connect with the location in a deeper way. This is the perfect opportunity for travelers to explore unknown corners and hidden gems. Locals are taking this chance to think about how to raise the quality of tourism, and travelers are looking for companies and destinations that are eco-conscious and are making a demonstrably positive impact on the environment.

Local & Community Based Travel

Being forced to slow down and stay inside has certainly taught us to appreciate the little things in life. There is a new focus on community (at home and abroad), and travelers are increasingly looking for unique, authentic, local experiences.

local Thai folk with honeymoon couple

We expect continued interest in things like taking a cooking class, picking up a local craft, or learning more about the region from a local perspective. Personalized experiences that engage with the community, and that feed profits back into the local economy, will take priority.

(Photo Credit: Marissa via Annie’s Escapes – you can read all about Marissa & Derek’s Thailand honeymoon escape here!)

Companies like Hyatt and Hilton have created programs to support their local communities, and others are likely to follow. There is a real sense of caring and support from future travelers. And they are holding companies equally accountable for their impact on and connection to the surrounding local community.

Our overall sense is that the way we travel in the future may see us traveling more slowly, with more purpose and consciousness. Focusing on our own physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing as well as that of the places and communities we visit. If you are excited to talk about these trends or to start planning a new adventure let us know! We can’t wait to see what the future brings!

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