Six Solutions for Sustainable Tourism
Travel can be intoxicating fun - nothing compares to the feeling of freedom that a true shift in cultural and physical perspective can bring and it can trigger amazing things - our own road trip inspired &Keep, after all!
That said, travel - particularly by air - can result in a disproportional and guilt-inducing impact to our planet, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s how to enjoy sustainable tourism…
1. Go On A Conservation Safari
We love watching wildlife - the sights and sounds really connect you to a place and create vivid memories. Wildlife can be iconic too - just think of an African safari with vast herds of wildebeest on a wide savannah, while a pride of lions look on. But lion populations have halved in the last 25 years, and since 2006 elephant herds have shrunk by a third. Tour operators have responded with sustainable safaris offering the opportunity to help scientists track animal populations. You can to tag rhinos, track elephants and collar cheetahs - and part of what you pay directly funds the conservation effort. In 2017 you can work on cheetah conservation on a Namibia safari with Africat, wild-dog monitoring in South Luangwa with the Zambian Carnivore Project, or if you prefer to travel within Europe, then you can sign up to a bear conservation project in Bulgaria. ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’ may never sound the same again!
2. Discover British Active Holidays
We love giving the kids lots to do on holiday and we’ve discovered that the Great British outdoors bristles with adventure playgrounds - no need to fly abroad. Ullswater in the Lake District is the perfect location for sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding, all of which will be on offer to adults and ‘Duracell bunny’ kids alike at the new 40-room Another Place. And of course the stunningly hikeable landscape of the Lakes is all around. What’s more a spa will be open to soothe tired muscles at the end of a fun-stuffed day. It’s opening in August 2017, but is already taking bookings.
3. Swap Roads For Rivers
Driving onto the Eurotunnel to Paris and taking a road trip into France has to be done at least once, but you can make your break even more sustainable. Why not swap the stress of Google mapping all those stops, for the chilled out vibe of a river cruise? Dig a little deeper and you can find inland river cruises like the one on the 11-cabin MS Jeanine passenger barge that sails on a six-night cruise between Bescanson and Dijon on the River Doubs and The Burgundy Canal, stopping to sample the delights of local vineyards, 18th Century citadels and Fontainbleau. You know what they say: ‘boat drinks are the best drinks!’
‘Pay one price and get it all,’ is an appealing sales pitch when faced with a giddying range of options, operators and prices, and you tell yourself you can always opt to pay to sneak off to local restaurants and bars, outside the All-Inclusive deal. The downside is that human nature means we love a bargain and dislike paying twice - so we’re likely to stick with the all-day breakfasts and generic cocktails, limiting our freedom to experience new cultures, and keeping our pennies from the pockets of small businesses. Sometimes an all-inclusive is just the ticket, but it pays to consider a more sustainable tourism option that really immerses you in you destination, and supports the local economy at the same time.
5. Take The Sleeper
For us, there’s something undeniably romantic about bedding down on a gently rocking sleeper train to wake up in a completely different place, ready to explore. It’s also a winner for more practical reasons: you gain holiday time by sleeping through transit and there’s a sustainable travel double whammy because you’re off the roads and out of potentially unsustainable hotel complexes. Options range from the sleeper service from London to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, to South America’s first luxury sleeper service, the Belmond Andean Explorer starting in May 2017 and travelling from Cusco to Arequipa, Lake Titicaca - part of Cox & Kings 14-night escorted Train to Machu Picchu tour.
We’ve always thought that camping is one of the best ways to reconnect with natural environments and rhythms - waking up to the sunrise and a dawn chorus of birds can be magical. And it helps that camping can be environmentally friendly, especially on campsites that make an effort to support sustainable travel, such as the one at Caerfai Organic Farm, on the stunning Welsh Pembrokeshire coast, outside St David's - a track leads from one of the fields straight down to golden sands. The campsite has solar panels on its shower block, there are two ground-sourced heat pumps and the dairy farm sells cheeses made using an anaerobic digester that converts cow slurry into power for the milk sterilisation unit. The cheeses taste better than that sounds!