A step-by-step guide to responsible travel
Published on: August 15th, 2017
Last modified: May 26th, 2022
Travelling provides us with limitless opportunities to experience new things, discover cultures different to our own and see incredible places. We learn more about ourselves and the world as we venture further from home. While exploring, though, it is important to ensure we do so responsibly. At Jacada Travel, we’re passionate about responsible travel. We’re also incredibly proud to work with incredible local partners around the world and love to see them making a positive impact. As a traveller, you too can be part of the change, help protect the environment and become a greener traveller (without forgoing the luxury aspect of your trip).
Our team of travel designers is continuously working to introduce more sustainable practices in the planning and execution of your trip. By travelling with us you’re contributing to the preservation of cultures and ways of life, the protection of the environment and the conservation of animals. Here are our top tips to get you on your way to being a greener traveller.
1. Experience the World Without the Crowds
One of the ways you can make a real difference is by choosing to travel off-season. You might not always have the guarantee of the best weather, but you will undoubtedly be helping to give the local community a much needed boost when they need it the most. The same goes for being adventurous and opting for more off-the-beaten-track destinations or those that truly have sustainability at the forefront of everything they do.
South Africa’s Cape Town, affectionately known as the Mother City is a wonderful destination to visit in the off season. Think fewer crowds, great winter deals in restaurants and fresh days out in the beautiful winelands with a glass of something rich and warming.
If you’re serious about cutting your carbon footprint when it comes to travel, consider Copenhagen in Denmark, which has set its sights on becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025.
2. Opt for a Sustainable Hotel
Once you’ve decided which part of the world you’re heading for, our team of travel designers can help you choose accommodation that complements your desire to be a greener traveller. Where you stay can do an enormous amount of good to the people you meet there and their communities.
At Six Senses Uluwatu in Bali, there are a variety of sustainability efforts underway. Take a garden tour and learn more about what they’re doing for the environment, and you can even join in with making compost, non-toxic detergents or recycling paper.
In Iceland, Torfhus Retreat is running entirely on geothermal or hydroelectric sustainable energy. They’ve also banned plastic and have a zero-waste policy in place when it comes to food and beverages. Even their furniture and building materials have been ethically and locally sourced as far as possible.
Or head to Hilton Seychelles Labriz on Silhouette Island where you’re encouraged to join the resident team of conservationists on beach clean-ups, giant tortoise monitoring and bat patrols.
Many of the larger hotel groups are committing to changing their practices with a view to being more environmentally conscious. Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) is phasing out mini toiletry bottles in all its rooms, as is Marriott. Hilton aims to cut its carbon emissions by 61% and halve water usage by 2030. Both Hilton and Hyatt are recycling soap and shampoo, and donating it to communities in need.
3. Pick an Ethical Organisation
We love to introduce people to new cultures in a respectful and considerate manner. Any experiences you have will be carefully arranged with and overseen by community members. Gratuitous visits to places like orphanages or simply offering hand-outs without proper support can often be more harmful than helpful, but our team can help arrange a meaningful way for you to make a difference.
We recommend you have a look at Pack for a Purpose to find a list of items you can take with you that would be most appreciated in the region you’re visiting.
4. Slow Down
Once you’ve arrived at your destination and you’re ready to head out to do some exploring, why not slow the pace and opt for a more eco-friendly way of travel. Lace up your hiking boots or hop on a bicycle and discover the streets and trails around your accommodation. In many cases, travelling like the locals is not only easier on the environment, but also creates a far more memorable experience.
One of the most comfortable and charming ways to travel and see the world is by train. Many parts of the world feature train journeys so breathtaking they’re practically a destination in themselves. Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia – they all offer spectacular rail options.
5. Go for Eco-friendly Experiences
If you choose an eco-focussed hotel or lodge you will find a selection of sustainable activities to fill your days with. But beyond that, wherever you choose to stay, we also have a team of travel designers committed to finding activities that are ethical and even uplifting. Think exploring by bicycle or on foot rather than by car, joining in on a beach clean up, learning about coral rehabilitation, helping to track and monitor endangered creatures or joining a local chef for a cooking class using local, seasonal produce.
Eat delicious food, learn about the local culture and traditions and take part in activities that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Buying arts and crafts to take home with you also provides invaluable support to local artisans. When it’s properly run, community based tourism can offer you genuine insight into local life, and uplift those who are welcoming you into their spaces. It’s always good to ask questions about who runs the cultural programmes that are geared to visitors and who benefits from them.
Together with our commitment to take care of the natural environment, we also feel strongly about safeguarding wildlife. To that end, we do not offer animal rides or interactions which could be detrimental to their wellbeing, preferring to instead focus on activities that protect and preserve.
6. Eat at Local/Sustainable Restaurants
A big part of getting to know a new place is discovering its flavours and most popular dishes, take that up a notch by focusing on sustainable dining. Whether you’re keen on taking a table at an award-winning restaurant, prefer to grab a quick bite from a street food vendor or are wanting to enjoy a home-cooked meal with a family, dining local can be an unforgettable adventure. Discover the stories behind the region’s cuisine, browse the markets and chat to the small producers, take time to truly appreciate the flavours and aromas that make a place so unique.
Keep an eye out for Michelin Green Star restaurants across England, Scotland and Ireland. These are restaurants which have been recognised for their sustainable practices, holding themselves accountable for the producers and suppliers they use and how waste is handled. They offer culinary excellence coupled with eco-friendly commitment. Among the restaurants that hold Michelin Green Stars are Oxo Tower Brasserie in London, Inver in Strachur, Pine in Northumberland and Where the Light Gets In inStockport.
If you find yourself in Bali, you may be interested in popping in at Ijen, Indonesia’s first zero waste restaurant. The fresh seafood spot serves the daily catch over an open fire using every scrap that comes into their kitchen.
7. Make Time for Wellness
Taking time out on your travels to rejuvenate and restore your body and mind is a welcome diversion on a luxury getaway, and many hotels and resorts have stellar spa offerings. Recently, the idea of a sustainable spa has begun to grow in popularity. So you can take time out for yourself with a clear conscience.
With several large hotel groups aiming to be plastic-free and carbon neutral, we’re seeing an increase in spas using renewable energy, locally-crafted products and carbon-neutral packaging. At Arctic Bath in Sweden the team at the spa works very closely with the indigenous communities who happily share their culture and rituals with guests looking for a holistic experience. The spa itself is built from sustainable materials and depending on the time of year either floats on or is frozen into the Lule River.
P.S Don’t forget the basics...
Of course, there are the small steps that have become almost second nature for many travellers. Keep single use plastics to a minimum and maybe pack your own reusable water bottle, opt for a handy metal straw rather than plastic, and be mindful of how much water you use opting for quick showers rather than deep baths.
Our Team's Favourite Eco Resorts
NIHI Sumba IslandThis eco-friendly resort takes a responsible approach to hospitability, and its restaurants make use of organically grown produce from the grounds, while its foundation and community outreach programmes seek to benefit and upskill the local villages, and protect the environment. Positioned within the diverse natural setting of 438 acres of tropical forest, rice terraces and grasslands on a private stretch of beautiful beach, Nihi Sumba Island provides utter scenic seclusion. All rooms are tucked amongst the trees, with huge windows and private terraces or balconies boasting expansive sea views. With 32 villas, all made from reclaimed wood by local craftsmen and furnished with unique regional artefacts, the accommodation here is exceptional. Meanwhile, the restaurant is a fusion between Eastern and Western cuisine, with an extremely accommodating team and chef. Though dining tends to be a communal affair with couples, families and friends, the staff will happily arrange private dining in your room or at one of many private romantic locations among the grounds. During the day, guests can try their hand at surfing along the beach or take in the Sumbanese countryside and culture by horseback. Those looking for a more relaxing pursuit can indulge in the Jungle Spa, with a massage or yoga class. There’s also fishing trips, stand-up paddleboarding and diving to be enjoyed, plus destination dining and a sea turtle hatchery.
Wilderness Vumbura PlainsBotswana’s mesmerizing Okavango Delta is now brighter than ever with the newly transformed (as of 2022) Vumbura Plains. Nestled in a large private concession of 60,000 hectares in the far north of the Delta, the camp is enveloped in some of the most incredible landscapes, home to some of the best wildlife encounters in the area. Inside, the camp celebrates its sense of place and culture, with design elements that pay homage to its wonderful setting with patterns, textures and colours bringing nature inside. Rooms at the lodge are amongst the biggest in the delta, all open plan, with a sunken seating area, private shaded deck and swimming pool outside as well as indoor and outdoor showers. There is an amazing sense of space here, in keeping with the wide-open plains that the rooms face onto. The rooms are open on three sides (with netting) giving a feeling of being closer to the nature and wildlife whilst still remaining is absolute comfort. The local connections continue throughout the camp experience.The menu celebrates seasonal produce sourced directly from local farmers, suppliers and artisans. Activities here are a mixture of game drives and water activities which will vary according to the level of the water and the time of the year. You will find day and night drives, walks and mekoro (dugout canoes) activities, with hot-air ballooning – from April to September each year – as well as scenic helicopter flights, making Vumbura an exclusive destination for the discerning adventure-seeker.
Lapa RiosYou don’t have to forego luxury in favour of natural beauty at the safari-style eco-lodge Lapa Rios. Located in one of the most diverse primary rainforests in the world, the Corcovado National Park, this ethically-responsible hotel does all it can to blend inconspicuously into its delicate surroundings and to create as little disturbance to the environment as possible. Guests enjoy exceptional intimacy with nature in authentic comfort. Its lodgings are 17 simple, spacious and stylish open-sided thatch bungalows decorated with bamboo furniture, warm wood flooring, and private bathrooms with two showers. There are two spacious new lapa villas with plunge pools, and four new premier villas with balconies. As such Lapa Rios’ assimilation into its rainforest habitat means that you often get toucans visiting your bungalow balcony, and the adventure and wildlife activities have never been so close to hand. It’s the perfect place to escape and unwind. There is WiFi available throughout the lodge. The hotel and each bungalow have sweeping views of the Pacific and rainforest canopies, and it’s a short downhill walk to a quiet and beautiful beach for a dip in the ocean. The main lodge has a high roof and open sides, magically lit by candlelight in the evenings. Tuck into hearty meals made using responsibly-caught local seafood, ethically-sourced meat and fresh vegetables at Brisa Azul Restaurant and Bar. And sip on organic South American wines with your fellow guests as the sunsets.