Not so long ago, there was a time when ‘sustainable travel’ conjured up images of tie-dye-wearing hippies who spent their holidays hiking close to home or camping in the wilderness.
But green travel no longer demands you eschew luxury hotels or air travel.
It’s about awareness of the impact of your trip and seeking to improve (or at the very least not harm) the natural world. It’s about being kind to places and people, allowing you to relax guilt-free in the knowledge that you’ve given back rather than taken away.
Here are the best travel companies working hard to protect the planet…
Intrepid Travel has invested more than £6.5 million into grassroots projects around the world. The company is offering a 20-day adventure trip to Vietnam. Pictured is the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi
As travel’s largest ‘B Corporation’ (certified sustainable companies), Intrepid has invested more than £6.5 million into grassroots projects around the world, and was the first to drop elephant rides from its trips. Specialising in small group adventures, it hires local guides and aims to use only renewable energy on its trips by 2030.
Following the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the company has raised more than £84,000 for the appeal and is donating all profits from bookings made on trips to Turkey until the end of April.
Destinations: Global. The firm offers more than 1,000 adventures in over 100 countries, including Cuba and Jordan.
Take a trip: A 20-day adventure trip to Vietnam is available for £1,949 (was £2,165), excluding flights (intrepidtravel.com).
A Canadian adventure tour operator, G Adventures uses small, locally owned companies for its trips. It also supports social enterprises and NGOs through its Planeterra Foundation.
You can gauge how responsible your trip will be by using the company’s 0-100 ‘Ripple Score’, which shows the percentage of money being spent on every tour that actually stays within the local community.
Destinations: Worldwide, including Antarctica.
Take a trip: Eight-day, small-group trips to Georgia and Armenia cost from £1,045, excluding flights (gadventures.com).
Responsible Travel, which represents eco-friendly tour operators, offers 6,000 tours from 400 companies in every continent, including Senegal (pictured)
An agency representing eco-friendly tour operators, independent firms and wildlife conservation projects, Responsible Travel also pays for a disadvantaged child to experience a day out as a tourist would through its Trip For A Trip scheme.
Destinations: Global, offering 6,000 tours from 400 companies in every continent, including Senegal, Seychelles and Spain.
Take a tour: An eight-day walking trip to Madeira costs from £1,179, including UK flights (responsibletravel.com).
The Bristol-based firm was founded by travel publisher Alastair Sawday 25 years ago based ‘on the appreciation of slow, meaningful, environmentally conscious travel’.
Its website has a ‘sustainable stars’ section which highlights some of its ‘most eco-friendly places’. In 2019, it committed to planting a million trees by 2026 to help fight climate change.
Destinations: The UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Take a trip: Rent the four-bedroom Son Canals villa, with a private pool, overlooking Deia in Mallorca from £440 per night (sawdays.co.uk).
Crowned National Geographic’s Best Tour Operator in 2022, Exodus Travels has eliminated plastic bottles from 99 per cent of its trips and is engaged in rewilding projects in Italy and tiger conservation in India.
Destinations: Global, with more than 500 itineraries to over 90 countries, including Pakistan.
Take a trip: A 15-day Balkans cycling trip costs from £2,299, excluding flights (exodus.co.uk).
Eco adventure: Steppes Travel ensures that flight emissions are offset and its on-the-ground partners never use plastics. Travellers can visit the North Pole area (above) with the tour firm
This luxury firm pledges to pay £50 per person per booking to fund conservation projects. Offering tailor-made holidays and small group tours, the firm became B-corp certified last year.
It ensures that flight emissions are offset and its on-the-ground partners never use plastics.
Destinations: More than 100, including Gabon, the Grenadines, Namibia and the North Pole.
Take a trip: A 14-day trip to Malaysian Borneo costs from £4,545, excluding flights (steppestravel.com).
Enjoy sustainable accommodation choices with Joro Experiences, a carbon-neutral company. Alaska is one of the destinations it arranges trips to. Above is the Alaskan city of Anchorage
Specialising in personalised itineraries, Joro communicates the carbon footprint implications of a trip with customers and prioritises electric vehicles for transfers, direct flights and sustainable accommodation choices.
The carbon-neutral company also founded The Conscious Travel Foundation to support conservation and community projects.
Destinations: Global, including Alaska, Ethiopia and Greece.
Take a trip: Prices and experiences on request (joroexperiences.com).
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