The perfect sustainable breaks to e-book in 2021
If 2020 was the year of no travel, let’s make 2021 the year of green travel where, if we’re lucky enough to get away, we prioritize sustainable breaks with a positive ethos.
Responsible travel can give something back instead of taking it away, or you can just relax without feeling guilty, knowing that your carbon footprint hasn’t made a huge leap in size.
From off-grid eco-lodges to slow-paced itineraries, here is a selection of the best trips (including a clear conscience) for next year.
All trips listed below are either flight-free or short-haul flights.
Explore French Alsace without a flight
At least one good thing came out of the pandemic: Byway, the world’s first flight-free vacation platform, was launched during the UK’s first lockdown. The pioneering travel company was founded to offer off-the-beaten-path journeys accessible by train, boat, bus and bike. Working with local, independent accommodation and experience providers who prioritize sustainability, Byway was certified as a pending B Corporation back in March – one of the strictest sustainability certifications in the world. The seven-day tour of the Grand Est (formerly Alsace) region of France takes you to Strasbourg, Colmar and Dijon, all of which are accessible by train. From £ 682pp, departing March 6, 2021.
Make a stop in the pretty city of Colmar
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A taste of Spain
Original Travel recently launched a new collection of itineraries entitled “Travel Less, Travel Better” to encourage customers to “make positive changes to the way we explore the world”. The collection includes philanthropic holidays, responsible travel, slow travel, rail and road travel, and sabbatical routes. The company has also put together a number of train-only itineraries for those looking to travel greener next year. One of the tastiest options is a six-day food tour of Bordeaux (France) and San Sebastian (Spain). Travelers will tour vineyards and do wine tastings, enjoy a guided pintxos (Basque tapas) tour, and prepare and eat lunch with members of one of San Sebastian’s secret gastronomic societies. From £ 2,115pp.
Learn to fish in Lastovo
On the small, remote island of Lastovo, Croatia, Intrepid Travel works with WWF to develop tourism that benefits the local community and preserves the island’s culture, identity and natural resources. One of the main problems on the island is overfishing and the number of fish is declining. As fishermen find it increasingly difficult to make a living from fishing alone, Intrepid launched the Croatia Retreat: Lastovo Island excursion, which gives visitors time to join the fishermen for the day on their boat. Travelers help fish and enjoy a freshly cooked seafood lunch on board. You will also learn about sustainable fishing and the journey from the sea to the table. The money they earn enables fishermen to take fewer fish out of the sea, which helps preserve the ecosystem. The five-day retreat starts at £ 750 per person and includes four nights of accommodation with breakfast and some other meals, transportation and activities.
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Help the local fishermen in Lastovo
(Getty / iStock)
Always closer to home
Next year is Wilderness England, a new tour operator offering adventure vacations to England’s national parks and wilderness areas. With a program of guided and self-guided trips, both on foot and by bike, the company is promoting a more sustainable approach to travel by promoting the beauty that is closer to home in domestic destinations. The 12-day coast-to-coast route takes hikers from St. Bee’s Head on the shores of the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay, which crosses three national parks in Northern England and covers 128 miles on foot. Starting in the Lake District, walkers make their way to the Yorkshire Dales before crossing the North York Moors and ending at the North Sea. From £ 3,495 per person including 12 nights, all meals, guided tour and transfers. Departures on May 30th, June 13th, August 1st, August 22nd and September 5th, 2021.
Green skiing in Arosa
If you want to ski with one side of the environment, the Valsana Hotel in the Swiss resort of Arosa has been awarded Green Globe certification – a global sustainability system based on internationally recognized criteria for the sustainable operation and management of travel and tourism companies – and with Best Green Ski Hotel at the World Ski Awards for the second time in a row. The sustainable architecture and design of the hotel, high-tech energy solutions and the offsetting of CO2 emissions programs were awarded an excellent compliance rating of 93 percent. The resort itself shares 225 pistes with neighboring Lenzerheide, with a good mix of red and blue pistes for advanced skiers. And Arosa can be reached in one day by train – you can reach Zurich via Paris and Basel before taking the express train to Chur and taking the charming single-track railway up the mountain. Rooms from CHF 420 (£ 348), B&B, including spa access.
Arosa can be reached by tram
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Off the beaten path on the “greenest” island in the world
El Hierro is the second smallest Canary Island and was the first island in the world to become completely self-sufficient and run on 100 percent renewable energy. El Hierro was declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve and Geopark and has remained largely untouched by tourism. Various fully endemic species live here, including the critically endangered El Hierro giant lizard, for which there is a captive breeding program. Slow travel specialist Inntravel offers a week-long self-guided walk to the island to discover the best things on foot. From £ 915 per person, the trip includes seven nights with breakfast, five dinners, two picnics, route notes and maps, luggage transfers and return flights from Tenerife North to El Hierro. Available from April 1, 2021.
Eco-camping in Guernsey
WildGuernsey is located on the second largest island in the Channel and offers a “green living holiday” with eco-camping, just a stone’s throw from the sea. Locally grown grocery and forage workshops are standard, while accommodation is in sustainably sourced canvas yurts made in the UK. Facilities include a fire pit or rocket stove, as well as a horse box field kitchen where you can prepare a dinner of freshly caught or gathered food. The site is car-free and has a “walking, cycling, and bus” program that encourages guests to explore the island in an environmentally friendly way. Guests who book seven nights or more even get a free bus pass when traveling without a car. Camping with WildGuernsey costs £ 25 for a tent for up to three people; Round-trip passenger ferries from Poole or Portsmouth to Guernsey cost Condor from £ 60 per person.
WildGuernsey has sourced yurts sustainably
Wilderness hike in a Finnish eco-lodge
Do you want to experience the wildness of nature in a really secluded place? Exodus Travels offers packages for the Oulanka basecamp in Finland, which is known for its environmental and sustainability practices: all energy used is renewable, all waste and water are recycled, and the heating system uses special wood pellets as fuel. The Exodus Travels Foundation donates money to the WildOulanka Foundation for every guest at the lodge, which is used to preserve the local forest. Careful management of the reserve has resulted in several species, including bears, returning. The sanctuary can hold 23,480 tons of carbon dioxide – enough to cover the emissions of all Exodus Travels customers traveling from London to Kuusamo. A seven night Finnish wilderness week costs from £ 1,949 per person, B&B, including round-trip airfare, all Arctic equipment and clothing, transfers and local guides.
Motorhomes with a conscience in Ireland
New venture offers a more sustainable way to explore Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Buckled Wheel was founded by a father-son team in Tipperary and offers lightweight trailers (500 kg, less than half the weight of a normal “White Box Caravan” tear trailer) for rent, including hybrid and electric vehicles can be drawn. The reduced weight is much easier to tow than a traditional caravan and also reduces fuel consumption. The company also uses and sells the latest in sustainable camping products such as blankets made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles and has partnered with Mossy Earth to plant a tree for every trailer rented in 2021, and come fully equipped with Gas stove, refrigerator, oven and grill. Rental costs from 50 € per day.
Reduce the impact on the Azores
Pico is best explored on foot
(Getty / iStock)
The Azores are the first archipelagos in the world to receive international certification as a sustainable travel destination by an organization accredited by the Global Council for Sustainable Tourism. The Portuguese islands take protection very seriously and are actively investing in renewable energies – the islands have been generating hydropower for well over a century, there have been wind farms here since 1988 and Sao Miguel currently uses geothermal energy. Pico Island’s eco-friendly Lava Homes, which opened in 2018, have an outdoor heated pool, yoga classes, and an on-site grocery, restaurant, and craft shop selling island-made gifts. The 14 self-catering huts are equipped with solar energy and heating is provided by pellet stoves (which burn compressed wood or biomass pellets). Cooling is provided by natural ventilation and the old water catchment tanks are used to water the gardens. Sunvil offers a seven night stay combining the islands of Pico and São Miguel from £ 1,507 per person (B&B) (two nights on Sao Miguel and five nights on Pico), including round-trip, flights between Islands and transfers.