What are the options out there to take a more meaningful & responsible trip?
Eco-friendly lodges, volunteer trips, mainstream stays, bookings done through a socially responsible hotel booking site are a few of the options you have to make a difference with your trip.
What exactly does taking action to travel responsibly mean? What does sustainable travel mean? What is the true meaning of ecotourism?
Travel responsibly means treating others the way they wish to be treated (planeta.com). It basically means travelers must treat the places they visit as if they were entering others people's homes. They must be respectful of their costumes, traditions, schedules, buildings, sacred places, be careful of when and where it’s ok to take pictures etc.
So what then does sustainable travel mean? Sustainable travel means a way of travelling that ensures the cultural and natural environments of the places visited will be unchanged in the long term. Traveling sustainably should minimize any negative impacts that tourism can have in a place or in a community that receives travelers.
On the other hand, ecotourism has been used extensively and it’s sometimes misunderstood yet the International Ecotourism Society defines it as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education." (TIES 2015)
We believe anyone wanting to travel in a sustainably responsible way must keep all this in mind. There are a lot of options out there to do so today. From changing your behavior when visiting a mainstream hotel, to changing your hotel booking site to one that gives back to people when reserving your travel, to volunteering during your next trip or visiting an eco-friendly hotel.
We have put together a list of companies that give travelers the option to take their travels to a next level and make their trips more meaningful.
*Photo Credit: Papaya Playa Project Hotel Tulum
Papaya Playa Project. A beautiful hotel located in Tulum, Mexico, with an ambitious sustainability and social responsibility project established in 2015 They’ve set a goal for themselves “... to achieve a zero emissions and zero contamination community by 2018”. Today, after learning, working hard, implementing proven technologies and changing paradigms they have achieved zero aquifer contamination, and reduced carbon emissions by almost 66% in comparison to pre-emission levels.
What are they doing? they’ve installed solar energy systems, they are using clean sustainable water, their food is locally grown and wherever possible it comes from their own organic gardens, they made a responsible construction by retaining up to 93% of the original jungle and of course all the products are purchased locally and within Mexico.
*Photo Credit: Rio Celeste Hideaway - Arenal
Rio Celeste Hideaway - Arenal.In a untouched natural paradise next to the Volcan Tenorio National Park, in Costa Rica, a ecologically-oriented hotel, perfect to live a genuine eco rainforest experience, with water rafting, birth watching in their own mile-long paths along the majestic sky blue Rio Celeste River.
*Photo Credit: Two Bunch Palms
Desert Hot Springs, Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa. Located in the heart of the Desert in Palm Springs just two hours from downtown Los Angeles. Since the 1940’s Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa has been delivering an oasis of peace, healing, and serenity and it is a leader in sustainability within the wellness-resort industry, it is the oldest hot mineral springs resort in the United States and also the first carbon neutral resort in America.
What are they doing? Healthier farm-to-table cuisine, recycling throughout the property, sustainable retail goods, electricity from 100% renewable sources, natural cleaning treatment products for potable water and the most important the construction of a 3.5-acre solar field with the partnership with Pear Energy which reminds us that the health of our planet should be part of our personal well-being.
*Photo Credit: Hotel Felix Chicago
Hotel Felix Chicago.While providing an unforgettable experience, this is the first eco-friendly property in Chicago, with Silver Leed Certification. The hotel building is resource efficient, it uses less water and energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. What are they doing? Since 2009 they’ve committed to environmentally sustainable practices, such as: low energy-use lighting, sort recyclables in the “recyclable room”, USGBC approved cleaning supplies, use of free trade coffees and chocolates, carpet made of recyclable materials, paperless throughout the property, and many other actions that ensure their commitment to the environment.
*Photo Credit: Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Banyan Tree Mayakoba. Located on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, brings Asian hospitality to the idyllic Riviera Maya. This premium resort has exquisitely designed villas immersed in an intimate oasis surrounded by lush mangroves, picturesque lagoons, beaches with white sugar sand and a PGA golf course; the property was built with sustainable development in mind.
What are they doing? This hotel has a true commitment to the environment where it is situated by protecting the diverse and rich ecosystems including tropical forest, mangroves, lagoons, canals, beaches and coral reefs. They’ve also implemented a program to protect sea turtles and rescue melipona bees. Banyan Tree has sustainability & diversity programs in all the properties all over the world.
goeco.org An ecotourism company that believes that everybody has a chance to contribute and gain a meaningful experience while traveling. What they do? Since 2006 they have placed more than 10,000 volunteers in projects around the world, providing humanitarian aid, wildlife rehabilitation and ecological conservation.
metowe.com Is a leading social enterprise, that believes that sustainable change starts from working together, it empowers the people to change the world with their everyday choices. What they do? Volunteer trips overseas, leadership programs, promote the purchase of products that give back, employee mamas in Kenya, donate cash and in kind donations to WE Charity which had 721,503 life-changing impacts around the world.
gvicanada.ca Their volunteers worldwide programs have high impact on environment conservation and community development; they partner with prolific organizations that make a difference with each project and a local partner ensures all the rights and credits stay in the country where the volunteering works takes place. What they do? They set coherent goals focused on sustainable development involving economic, environmental and social areas. Their work is life changing, for both, volunteers and local people.
Hotel Booking Site where every reservation makes a positive impact
Is a booking site for sustainable Tourism, with competitive room rates to book unforgettable worldwide trips. What we do? They offer a selection of over 250,000 hotels worldwide where the travelers get to choose where they want to travel to. Once the traveler confirms destinations and hotel, the user has the opportunity to select the cause and foundation where Wander will donate a substantial part of its profits. It is a revolutionary site where travelers will be able to enjoy their trip while they help at no extra cost. The user has the power to choose between providing vitamins to a child, solar energy, empower small entrepreneurs, protect wildlife or provide humanitarian assistance.