7 principles of sustainable luxury travel04/05/2017 A Luxury Travel Blog
Sustainable travel is a hot topic for 2017. The ethos has made leaps and strides over the last few years, and the UN has even announced this year as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. Now is the perfect time to explore how you can embrace sustainability on your luxury getaways. Here are 7 principles of sustainable travel to help with your 2017 globetrotting plans; not only does it enhance the planet, it will enhance your trip.
1. Do your destination homework / Be culturally mindful
You will have chosen your destination for a reason; be it beautiful scenery, a top hotel or culinary prowess. But the best way to start your sustainable trip is to pick up a good travel book to discover the history, culture and customs of the area. You’ll throw new insight into your experiences once you’re there, and you’ll be better informed to understand and respect the people you meet and the things you see and do. If you share a language with the locals, you’ll be able to strike up conversations and pose relevant and interesting questions. If there’s a language barrier, try to learn a few phrases and words in the local tongue. It shows a mindful appreciation for the country and its culture, and people will be grateful for the effort you’ve put in to trying to communicate.
2. Choose eco-friendly accommodation
Across the globe, from grand hotel chains to small boutique properties, hoteliers are realising the importance they play in a sustainability-focused world. As well as implementing practices to benefit the environment (such as crafting energy-efficient buildings, replanting trees to rehabilitate local wildlife or starting small farms), hotels are working to improve the lives of the local community and protect the indigenous culture.
Some outstanding examples of eco-friendly hotels include:
The Scarlet, UK
This ultra-modern, luxury hotel on the UK’s Cornish coast embraces sustainability by sourcing materials responsibly, reducing waste and encouraging guests to donate to their Community Fund which aids local environment and social projects.
Vigilius Mountain Resort, Italy
Winner of World’s Best Sustainable Hotel 2016 in the Boutique Hotel Awards, from its conception this beautiful hotel had sustainability at its core. Their defining principle is “eco not ego”, and the building is in perfect harmony with its surroundings.
Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Costa Rica
A sustainable tourism pioneer, this luxury lodge has won innumerable awards for social and environmental excellence. 17 private bungalows overlook the Pacific Ocean meeting the Golfo Dulce gulf, all set within a thousand acres of a private nature reserve.
3. Pack smart
While we’re on the subject of accommodation, let’s talk packing. Be smart about your necessities. Do you really need that favourite hairdryer or electric toothbrush? Leave some non-essential gadgets at home: it will free you from a life dependent on your charger and reduce your energy consumption to boot.
4. Choose sustainable experiences
Sustainable travel is all about the future – ensuring that the incredible experiences you can enjoy right now are intact for generations to come. When visiting popular attractions and sights, be respectful of the environment and play your part in maintaining them: keep to designated walkways, take litter away with you and be satisfied with admiring (as opposed to touching) historical artefacts. Find out about sustainable experiences on offer in the area – new green association Bee + Hive is a great source for this. It showcases sustainable experiences offered by hotels, restaurants and parks across the globe.
5. Go local
Local markets offer the best selection for picking up authentic travel souvenirs and mementos, plus they directly benefit local communities. Wherever possible opt for locally-made options rather than something made overseas (though avoid anything made from threatened natural resources). And be sure to hire local guides—their vast swathes of knowledge about the area will beat any travel guide.
6. Share your experiences
You’re back from your trip, but a sustainable traveller doesn’t stop there. Now spread the word about all your amazing experiences. Take to social media and get tagging all those hotels, tour operators and services that made your trip so memorable. You’re doing them a great service with your positive feedback, while also inspiring others with the incredible sustainable experiences out there.
7. Give back
If travelling sustainably has inspired you way and beyond returning home, why not see what you could do to promote sustainability in your community. It could be turning a patch of ground into a beautiful garden, choosing to buy a coffee in a locally-owned business (instead of that big coffee chain) or starting a neighbourhood sustainability society to spread the knowledge of sustainable practices. Let your travels inspire you in new life changing ways.
Tom Marchant is Co-founder of Black Tomato.