If you’ve been thinking more and more about sustainable travel recently, and are wondering how you can combine your passions of travel and sustainability, then you’re in the right place! We here at Me Time Away are all about connecting travel, wellness, personal development and the environment in a positive way, so we’ve done plenty of research about sustainable travel destinations and we’d love to share them with you!
Read on to discover what we think are going to be the top sustainable travel destinations for 2020 and 2021, so you can start planning a trip of a lifetime that you know has a minimal effect on the environment!
1. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is always the country that springs to mind when one thinks about sustainable travel as ecotourism has been top priority for them for over two decades! This doesn’t seem to be slowing down though as Costa Rica’s commitment to responsible travel is just as strong as ever!
Whether you’re seeking eco-lodges built into the rainforest, responsible wildlife experiences, peaceful yoga retreats or hikes in breath-taking natural surrounds, Costa Rica has you covered!
Whilst on Instagram…
2. The Azores
The Portuguese archipelago of the Azores is an outdoor adventure-lovers’ playground, with waterfall hikes, volcanic trails, unspoilt golf courses and eco-conscious whale watching tours available to travellers throughout the year. The islands are known for conserving their rich bio and geodiversity as well as using renewable energy sources to reduce their impact on the planet. While a flight to the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean may take a little longer, at least you’ll know you will have minimal effect on Mother Nature when you get there!
Nepal 2020 is set to be a big year with the country happily re-opening their doors to tourism after the devastating earthquake of 2015. Bardia National Park, in particular, looks likely to be a popular spot for travellers seeking sustainability as the park has made a conscious effort to protect the endangered Bengal tigers that resides there. They hope the tiger population here will have doubled by the year 2020, which will be a rare good news story in the world of wildlife conservation!
4. Gozo, Malta
The rustic island of Gozo (next to Malta) is a wonderful choice for European travellers looking for a relaxing yet responsible beach destination. The waters around this small island have been certified as ‘excellent’ and the food scene here is big on serving up local, organic produce in new and interesting ways. They have even put in place an “Eco-Gozo island 2020” strategy which promotes eco-education, organic food production and NGO projects.
5. San Francisco, USA
While San Fran is mainly known for being one of the tech capitals of the world, it is also now famed for being the most eco-friendly city in the United States, according to the WalletHub Greenest Cities In America ranking. The cities were rated in terms of their transportation options, energy sources, lifestyle and environmental impact and San Francisco came out top. Thankfully there are loads of things for tourists to do here including Alcatraz, Pier 39, museums, galleries and plenty of great eateries!
Slovenia is one of the greenest countries in Europe so whether you’re looking for a city break or an outdoor adventure this country has got something for you. Ljubljana is an eco-friendly city with tons of interesting museums and festivals, and scenic destinations such as Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, Soča Valley and the Škocjan Caves are excellent places for discovering the great outdoors.
The tiny tropical island of Palau relies on eco-tourism to both sustain the local economy and to preserve the natural environment and marine life that makes this destination so special. The island is home to a shark sanctuary that enables research to be carried out while also protecting the species. While Palau is quite a far-flung destination for travellers from the US and Europe, it is a great sustainable option for those travelling from Australia and New Zealand.
8. The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are a real natural wonder and thankfully most of the beautiful land and marine environment here (98%) is protected under conservation status. This means that eco-tourism practices are the go-to model, requiring tour operators to maximise local participation, conserve natural resources and only allow sustainable development. If you’re a wildlife lover than the Galapagos Islands simply must be on your bucket list!
Rwanda has been on the sustainability map for a while thanks to their responsible wildlife tourism practices when it comes to gorillas and their nationwide ban on plastic bags. The country also has a Vision 2020 plan which aims to see an additional 30% of land reforested to make way for more wildlife corridors and habitats. Rwanda even has a country-wide day set aside each month (last Saturday) in which everyone (including the president!) heads outside to clean the country!
While high-rise cities may not seem like the most sustainable destinations, Singapore is trying its best to do things a little differently. The country has introduced an initiative called NEWater to ensure high-quality drinking water is available sustainably and they have plans to increase their rate of recycling to 70% by the year 2030. The world-famous Gardens By The Bay are also considered a sustainable super park and it’s well worth a visit! And of course, let’s not forget about their recently opened Changi Airport being named the most sustainable airport in the world!
11. New Zealand
For lovers of the great outdoors you can’t beat New Zealand where you can hike, camp, kayak and swim to your heart’s content! The country loves producing fresh, local, food and drink and the locals are always happy to interact with tourists, giving them tips on the best ways to enjoy and conserve the natural environment.
Iceland is another destination which is epic when it comes to natural beauty, and whether you visit in summer or winter you’re sure to have an unforgettable trip. In line with rising numbers of travellers, over 300 Icelandic tourism companies have pledged to work towards a country-wide responsible tourism initiative that aims to keep tourism thriving while also lessening the impact on the environment.
While Petra and the Dead Sea are the main highlights of any trip to Jordan, you may be surprised to learn that there are some awesome eco-tourism lodges and campsites scattered throughout the country that will add to your authentically adventurous experience. Many of these feature solar-powered lighting and offer up locally-sourced and cooked meals to give you a real taste of the Middle East.
14. Auroville, India
The conscious township of Auroville in India is quite a unique destination in that it is a self-sustaining, experimental, eco-tourism hub that aims to allow people to live in peace and harmony with each other and with nature. The residents here create renewable energy, organic produce and hand-made crafts as well as offering volunteer programmes in alternative healthcare and ecology.
The Kingdom of Bhutan has a very unique model of tourism in that it works on “high value with low impact” method. The country restricts the number of flights that can enter and requires all travellers to pay a minimum ‘daily tariff’ which ensures that the tourist pound is being spent in-country rather than going to outside tour operators. $65 or the $200 tariff (in low season) is considered a “sustainable tourism” royalty, which is put towards the country’s free health-care and education systems, as well as the building of sustainable tourism infrastructure.
Let us know where you’re planning on travelling in 2020 and 2021 and if there are any destinations in which you’d love us to run a Me Time Away!