One of my specialties is Sustainable Travel (a.k.a. eco-travel, as noted in my Facebook here). And you’re probably wondering just what the heck that is. Good news, fellow traveler, I’m about to explain it all right…about…
Depending on the association or company, eco-travel (or ecotourism) can mean different things. But since you’ll be working with me when you need a travel counselor, I’ll give you my definition.
I see eco-travel as having three different, friendly aspects: 1) environmentally friendly, 2) culturally friendly, and 3) animal friendly.
So let’s start with the first one: how can travel be environmentally friendly? Apart from the obvious (more fuel-efficiency, hotels having water conservation programs, restaurants and all-inclusive resorts serving organic food) there are other, less common approaches to be environmentally friendly. Hotels and resorts going all in for organic—not just organic food, but organic soaps, linens, flooring, etc.—is one example. There are also accommodations, like the Le Conte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, that are completely off-the-grid. And yet another way destinations can be environmentally friendly is by limiting the number of visitors per year. The Inca Trail in Peru (which leads to Machu Picchu) allows only 500 permits a day (only 200 are tourist permits).
Tourist limitations are not only environmentally friendly, but also culturally friendly. Culturally friendly travel is the easiest of the three, and doesn’t take a lot of advanced planning. Participating in culturally friendly activities can be as simple as eating at a local restaurant or shopping at a local market. Culture travel is so popular now that most tour companies include some culturally friendly activity for travelers to participate in. G Adventures not only provides activities for travelers to participate in, but also has several programs in which they give back to the communities. (If you want to check them out, visit here.)
The third aspect of ecotourism, being animal friendly, is less black and white, and really more up to personal preference. Always let your travel counselor know if you feel strongly about animal rights. They can steer clear of offering suggestions like an elephant ride in Thailand or visiting Sea World, and can offer more animal friendly alternatives!
If ecotourism sounds like your kind of travel, subscribe to my blog! I’ll be mentioning suppliers and destinations in future blog posts that focus on ecotourism.
Planning a trip? Contact me and I’ll help you plan and book your next adventure!
Now get out there and go!