Spring Break is an important time for us to collect ourselves and recharge. Some of us get a week, some of us get two (and some of us can do whatever we want because we work for ourselves from home!), but however long we need that time to recharge. It’s easy for us to default and pick the usual destination to travel to because it can be too hectic to plan. But typical Spring Break destinations aren’t always treating the environment and locals with the respect they deserve.
So this year make your Spring Break more sustainable by traveling to one of these fantastic sustainable destinations!
No, Vancouver is not a tropical paradise, but it is a sustainable oasis. Vancouver is one of the most sustainable cities in the world—not only because of their environmental initiatives but also the well-preserved natural areas surrounding Vancouver.
Vancouver is essentially an island—the city itself is extremely walkable, making it easy to get around without having to rent a car or hail a taxi. It is extremely bicycle-friendly, LGBTQIA-friendly, and is home to fantastic beer, art, and food. It might not be your first Spring Break destination in mind, but you should definitely consider it!
Packages departing Cincinnati airport start at: $950/person for 6 nights.
Weren’t expecting that were you?
Cuba’s sustainability has developed out of necessity. With the economic ban from the United States, Cuba has had to rely on its own resources far more than those countries that can trade freely with most others. Because of this, in 2006 and 2016 the World Wildlife Fund identified Cuba as the country with the most sustainable model of development. “The WWF Report includes the United Nations Human Development Index and the ‘ecological footprint’ as measures of this success.”
But these aren’t the only reasons! Cuba has been farming sustainably since the 1990s; they have a Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment; more people ride bikes in Cuba than in anywhere else in the world; they have plans to develop their newer tourism industry sustainably.
So while Americans can’t go just to lie around on the beach--instead we have to participate in a scheduled people-to-people tour—Cuba is a fantastic Spring Break option!
Packages departing Cincinnati airport start at: $1500/person for 5 nights.
Like Vancouver, this is not a place to jet off to if you’re craving the warming rays of the sun. But it is full of adventure, relaxation, and its own form of warmth!
Iceland is also committed to reducing their carbon footprint. In 2016 81% of Iceland’s energy needs were provided by geothermal and hydroelectric sources. By 2050 the country plans on having the capital of Reykjavik completely fossil fuel free! Iceland has also been switching some of their less sustainable industries to tourism. In Siglufjordur, Iceland, a once thriving fishing community that collapsed from overfishing, tourism dedicated to sharing its history and lessons on overfishing has taken over. Iceland is also working to make tourism activities carbon neutral.
The most popular sights in Iceland are definitely the natural beauty, which, thankfully, Iceland is well aware of. You can see amazing fjords, waterfalls, and geysers and not worry at all about your environmental impact. (And when you want to get out from the cold, you can bathe in any of the amazing hot springs found in the country.)
Packages departing Cincinnati airport start at: $2400/person for 5 nights.
The capital of Slovenia is a startling sustainable revelation.
It has the highest sustainability certification given to a destination in Slovenia (a Gold) and is working to be the first European city to become zero waste. Yes, you read that right, zero WASTE, not just zero emissions. Pretty amazing! In 2016 Slovenia was the most sustainable country in the world in terms of tourism, so Ljubljana is just the cream of the crop.
Not only can you access beautiful natural areas close to Ljubljana, 46% of the land in the municipality of Ljubljana is indigenous woodland! Again, while not an island oasis, the temperatures in March & April trend in the 50’s and 60’s—perfect weather for hiking.
Packages departing Cincinnati airport start at: $3400/person for 5 nights.
Like many forward-thinking countries, Kenya founded its own ecotourism society in the 1990’s.
Kenya is one of the most popular destinations for safaris, so it’s no surprise that sustainability is something very important to their country. Solar power is frequently used in tourist accommodations that have received high eco-ratings from Ecotourism Kenya. Kenya has many laws in place to help cut down on poaching. And on top of that, many ecotourism safari companies pair with local villages to help them bring back tourism money to their homes.
Is it outlandish to think of traveling to Africa for Spring Break? Certainly not--especially when you offset your carbon emissions!
Packages departing Cincinnati airport start at: $1270/person for 4 nights.
Gijon is a city in Spain that you’ve probably never heard of. But that’s okay, you have now!
Gijon has been a Biosphere World Urban Destination since 2013. It is surrounded on all sides by nature. To the north is the Bay of Biscay and circling around on the land are rural parishes. Even within the city itself are 15 parks and gardens not including the Botanical Garden of Gijon.
But not only is it committed to maintaining its natural areas, Gijon is working hard to become an accessible city. Many old cities in Europe (for example, Athens) just aren’t accessible for those with mobility needs. But Gijon not only has its own guide to getting around the city successfully it has strong accessibility initiatives in place.
Gijon has a mild to cool climate. So although you won’t be soaking up the rays, you’ll be getting some amazing sea views!
Packages departing Cincinnati airport start at: $1320/person for 5 nights.
#7 Jackson Hole/Yellowstone National Park
Oooh, a US destination!
Yellowstone National Park was the world’s first National Park, and the region has since continued working to preserve the amazing wilderness that is Wyoming. In 2012, Teton County (Jackson Hole) was only one of six destinations across the globe to participate in the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Early Adopter’s Program.
The Riverwind Foundation manages Teton County & Yellowstone National Park as a sustainable destination. And like all sustainable tourism non-profits, it gives out awards and certifications based on a business’s sustainability. Plus Yellowstone has done one of my favorite things: introducing wolves back into the ecosystem.
Check out this video!
If you like cold and skiing, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone make an excellent Spring Break destination.
Packages departing Cincinnati airport start at: $850/person for 6 nights.
Finally, we’re back to the beautiful tropical climate most people want for their Spring Break!
Dominica has an incredible amount of biodiversity. And if there’s one thing countries that specialize in ecotourism know, it’s that people love to look at a variety of nature. But not only is the wildlife diverse, the cultures are greatly diverse, too. At the writing of this post, Dominica is celebrating its Carnival. But on the east coast, the Kalinago Territory is living its own indigenous culture.
The Kalinago Territory’s tourism is run completely by indigenous people and offers unique experiences like homestays, food, and traditional crafts. Not only is Dominica succeeding at preserving its natural resources, it’s succeeding at preserving the diverse nature of its people.
With Dominica you get beauty, warmth, and a country working on moving to 100% energy efficiency!
Packages departing Cincinnati airport start at: $1450/person for 5 nights.
#9 Costa Rica
Costa Rica is absolutely my favorite sustainable destination! (And a great Spring Break spot, too!)
Costa Rica is on track to becoming the first carbon neutral country by 2021. Carbon neutral, y’all! For comparison Costa Rica is about the size of West Virginia. Do you think a destination the size of West Virginia in the United States could be carbon neutral by 2021? And about 25% of their land is protected in the form of their equivalent of the National Parks system.
They have their own sustainable tourism certifications. They have a staggering number of resorts that use alternative energy sources, grow their own food, and are part of the pledge to prevent human trafficking in tourism.
Costa Rica has everything you could want out of a Spring Break destination: beaches, mountains, and sense of peace that only comes when you know your carbon footprint is low. Costa Rica is one of the best places you could visit!
Packages departing Cincinnati airport start at: $1300/person for 6 nights.
#10 BONUS: Fathom Cruise
Thanks for reading all the way to the end! You get a lovely bonus suggestion!
Fathom, as you definitely know by now, is my favorite travel experience ever. It makes a perfect Spring Break service break, because not only are you volunteering, you are still getting an amazing Caribbean vacation! There is only one sailing during Spring Break time (departing March 18), so be sure to contact me soon to book it!
A double occupancy interior room starts at $795/person for a 7-night cruise.
Now get out there and go!