Sustainable and responsible tourism - tips and inspiration

Sustainable and responsible tourism: inspiration & tips

Would you love to travel again, but do you want to protect the earth and people while you do it? Sustainable and responsible tourism is hip and good for the planet!

What is sustainable travel?

Traveling is fun and healthy! Yet more and more you hear that it is actually better not to travel because it is harmful to people and nature. Fortunately, you can also opt for sustainable and responsible travel. What is sustainable travel though? According to the International Ecotourism Society (TIES), this is the definition of sustainable travel: “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”.

Sustainable and responsible tourism is therefore both about the environment and the well-being of the local population.

Inspiration: Fun Travel Ideas

Ok, you’ve decided that you want to travel more sustainably on your upcoming vacation. What to do and where to go? Here are a few ideas.

Plan a multi-day (or multi-week!) hiking trip

On a hiking holiday in Switzerland

Very sustainable and nowadays even very hip: a hiking holiday. You can of course organize a hiking trip completely the way you want it. For example, you can book a house close to a nature reserve or a national park and discover all the hiking trails from there, but you can also opt for a long-distance walk. For example, even in a small country like The Netherlands, you will find dozens of long-distance hikes, of which the Pieterpad is the best known.

And there’s are also plenty of options in the rest of the world! In Europe, it’s easy to explore the most beautiful places in Switzerland during several day hikes. But you can also decide to hike (part of) the famous pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. And I can also recommend the beautiful Fishermen’s Trail in Portugal!

Do you really feel like a challenge? Then the Pacific Crest Trail might be for you: a hike of more than 4000 kilometers (2600 miles) in the USA, from Mexico to Canada.

Cycling holiday

Instead of a road trip by car, you can of course also go on a road trip by bike! You obviously drive fewer kilometers, but because your pace is a bit slower, you see a lot more. Moreover, it is a lot more healthy. A cycling holiday is also arranged in no time. Just like a road trip by car, you can come up with a nice itinerary yourself and choose fun places to stay. Extra fun!

Slow travel

Travel from place to place constantly and sleeping somewhere different every day is an option, but usually not the most environmentally friendly (and it can be very stressful as well). Slow travel (where you stay longer in one place) is much better and you don’t have to pack your suitcase every time. This is also the perfect way to get to know the local food and culture better. This is one of the best ways to support the local population, also an important point if you want to travel more sustainably.

Travel by train

Train travel in Italy

Traveling by train for weeks is really not only for young people, everyone can plan a great trip by train! Especially when you live in Europe, you’ll have a big advantage. Since you only have to be on the train for a few hours to get to another country. And that’s so much fun! Moreover, there are more and more options and train travel is becoming cheaper.

Although traveling Europe by train from city to city is great fun, you can also visit nature by train. Do you fancy a train journey? For train travel in Europe, check the Interrail website for the options and handy rail passes.

Do you need inspiration? Last year I traveled through Northern Italy by train and it was amazing. Check my itinerary here. In addition, this book by Lonely Planet is filled with the most beautiful train journeys in the world.

Find a sustainable destination

Costa Rica is one of the most sustainable destinations in the world

Some countries already know that responsible tourism is the future, and are doing a lot to become a sustainable travel destination. One of the best-known examples is Costa Rica, which is well on its way to becoming the world’s first C02 neutral country!

Other countries that are doing well in the field of sustainable tourism are Bhutan (you pay $ 200- $ 250 a day to travel here and 30% of that goes to nature and the well-being of the inhabitants), Copenhagen in Denmark (want the first C02 neutral capital in the world) and Guyana (a republic in South America, here the ministry of tourism tests everything for sustainability).

Book through a specialized travel company

Some travel organizations specialize in sustainable travel.

  • Intrepid Travel – focus on community-based tourism, animal welfare, and climate.
  • Kind Travel – book a hotel room through this website and donate to a charity of your choice.

The great thing is that more and more travel organizations are adding sustainable travel to their offer. A good development!

What else can you do to travel even more responsible?

Do you want to see what else you can do? There are still many small things you can do to make your holiday a little more sustainable. A few examples:

Do you want to fly to your next destination? Fly directly and offset your flight emissions

With most airlines and travel organizations you can now immediately offset your emissions when you book a plane ticket, such as KLM.

Did you not do it during your booking, did it not work, or do you want to compensate for the CO2 from previous air travel? Then it is also possible with external parties, such as Trees for All (this organization plants trees) and My Climate (climate protection projects result in lower CO₂ emissions).

Stay in sustainable accommodation

Choose a sustainable accommodation, such as an ecolodge. Eco lodges and other sustainable accommodations are available all over the world through your favorite booking platforms, such as Check out for places in nature, that are usually eco-friendly as well.

Eat local, vegetarian or vegan

Local food in the Philippines

You eat at least three times a day, so you can easily ensure more sustainability here. Try to avoid animal products by eating vegetarian or vegan. And it is always good to support the locals by tasting the local delicacies. This is often also the cheapest option on the menu.

Use your own water bottle

In many places you can drink good water from the tap, so always bring your own water bottle. Can’t you drink from the tap on the spot? Then there is usually a tap with purified water. And the best solution for safe drinking (tap) water is a drinking bottle with a built-in filter, such as the Lifestraw Go. That way you never have to buy plastic water bottles again.

Check everything you do to see if there is a sustainable option

For many things, you can choose from a sustainable option. For example, with a tour, you can opt for an eco-tour. And do you ever travel with Uber to get to your destination? You can often choose from different cars, including Uber Green. It often costs the same and you have traveled a little more sustainably.

I hope these tips have helped you to make your holiday more sustainable. Do you ever think about sustainable and responsible tourism? Or have you always been doing it?

Read more about sustainable and responsible tourism

The Sustainable Travel Handbook

Sustainable Travel: The essential guide to positive impact adventures (Sustainable Living Series)

Read more

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As a girl from a small town in the Netherlands, I always dreamed of traveling. I thought it would always be a dream, but nowadays, I travel 6 to 8 months a year and I hike thousands of miles on the most beautiful hiking trails. On this website you can read all about my favorite destinations.

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