Virtuoso Life July 2018 20 Ways to Travel for Good

20 Ways to Travel for Good

Done right, sustainable tourism is more than a catchphrase or a marketing ploy – it’s the basis of enduring, positive benefit that adds purpose to our journeys and meaning to our memories. Here are 20 ways to get sustainability right on your next adventure.
Photo by Franck Reporter/Getty Images 
Follow a leader. 
In partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, Royal Caribbean Cruises has embraced a stem-to-stern sustainability push – from shrinking its carbon footprint to a farsighted seafood-procurement plan – that’s setting the bar for cruise lines. Ponder sci-fi-sounding onboard realities, such as capturing condensation from air conditioners to do laundry, as you float on turquoise seas that deserve this kind of innovative thinking.
Dig deep – sometimes literally. 
The first to develop guidelines for environmental river cruising more than ten years ago, Uniworld River Cruises quickly expanded its mission to the communities along its waterways. Now, through a new partnership with the ME to WE social enterprise project, guests can contribute four days of their elbow grease to the cause – building schools, installing water filtration, working in a community garden – during a 12-day Ganges River cruise on the 56-passenger Ganges Voyager II.
Put your binoculars to good use.
Ever feel like fellow cruisers don’t fully appreciate your diligent search for whales, porpoises, and dolphins? No worries. Two spring sailings of Silversea’s 596-passenger all-suite Silver Muse host conservationists from ORCA (one of the United Kingdom’s leading marine-conservation charities), who will integrate passengers’ citizen-scientist efforts into their work and further ignite conservation interest with onboard presentations.
Break ice – not the planet.
Channel your inner Shackleton without compromising your desire for comfort or your eco-ethics aboard Ponant’s Icebreaker. Coming in 2021, the world’s first-ever luxury hybrid electric icebreaker – with liquefied natural gas propulsion (the cleanest hydrocarbon out there) – will venture to some of the world’s most extreme and inspiring locales, including the geographic North Pole, Greenland’s far northeast, and Peter I Island off Antarctica.
Fly direct. 
More airlines are investing in biofuels made from renewable sources, such as algae and seaweed. But there’s still a long way to go before we can truly fly green class. When you do travel by air, opt for nonstop flights versus connections – fewer takeoffs and landings translate into fewer emissions. Also, use a reliable carbon-offset provider such as MyClimate to compensate for those air miles.
Go on safari and ... 
... Give back.
Steeped in a commitment to continual progress, andBeyond offers Travel with Purpose itineraries that bring all the elements of a classic African safari together with opportunities for guests to get in on the philanthropy. So, in Kenya, you could find yourself adopting an elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust or, in Tanzania, visiting with disabled artisans who create beautiful objects from recycled materials.

... Get muddy. 
A key strategy for protecting Serengeti elephants is knowing where they are. GPS collars help conservationists track elephant movements and steer these potential crop raiders away from life-threatening conflict with farmers and back to sanctuary lands. On a Singita collaring conservation safari, guests offer real assistance during the collaring process: cooling the tranquilized animals with water, monitoring their vital signs, and taking measurements. Making a difference has never been so thrilling.

... Open your eyes. 
Bespoke tour operator Micato Safaris channels its vision for long-term change in the Mukuru slum outside Nairobi. There, its nonprofit AmericaShare provides education for children, business creation for women, and support for those affected by HIV/AIDS. At the end of Micato’s East Africa safaris, guests are invited to visit these projects, where their burgeoning understanding and sensitivity to the culture and customs make for a life-altering takeaway.

... Bolster a refuge. 
Bushmans Kloof, an exquisite 16-room ecolodge and wilderness reserve below South Africa’s Cederberg Mountains, carefully stewards its jaw-dropping resources, including more than 130 ancient rock-art sites dating back 10,000 years and endangered populations of Cape mountain zebra, Cape clawless otter, and Clanwilliam yellowfish.

... Catch air for good reason. 
Pedal a mountain bike along ancient elephant trails, over red rock escarpments, and among camel thorn trees in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa during the annual Nedbank Tour de Tuli. Since 2005, proceeds from the four-day tour have gone to Wilderness Safaris’ nonprofit partner, Children in the Wilderness, which facilitates conservation through leadership development and education of rural children in Africa.

... Support women. 
From the wildlife-rich Okavango Delta to the mighty Zambezi River, Abercrombie & Kent captures the grandeur of southern Africa during a ten-day Botswana safari, even as it works to sustain local ecosystems, aid area communities, and advance the health of local women. In March, an A&K-supported maternity ward opened in Nakatindi Village, near Victoria Falls, to provide maternal care in a community devastated by HIV/AIDS and greatly reduce the risk of pregnant mothers transmitting the virus to their babies.
Be wary of private wildlife operations.
If your plans include visiting animal orphanages or private wildlife parks – to walk with cheetahs, pet lion cubs, or feed elephants, for example – be warned: Even if everything looks legit on the surface, mistreatment may be happening behind the scenes. Research them carefully. Unless such places are endorsed and supported by well-recognized national or international conservation and animal welfare organizations, stay clear.
Buy right. 
From pretty shells at Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay to fur hats in the mountains of Mongolia to so-called antique ivory crucifixes for sale on the streets outside the Vatican in Rome – no matter where you are, the odds are overwhelming that when you buy a wildlife product, it comes from the illegal killing of wild animals. Just say no: Your response will send a powerful message that travelers do not support the wildlife trade.
Walk the talk. 
Ride-share apps are so ubiquitous in urban hubs, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that all the great cities of the world were built for – and reward – the humble pedestrian. On a three- to four-hour Urban Adventures guided walking tour in Lisbon, for example, sumptuous squares and multicultural neighborhoods yield their secrets like strains of fado through an open window, and the only fuel you burn is of the seafood-and-wine variety.
Keep cultures vibrant through appreciation. 
With an earned reputation for supporting cultural heritage and local artisans, WildChina, a Virtuoso on-site tour connection in the country, is particularly suited to guide visitors through the centuries-old traditions of the Miao, Dong, and Yao ethnic minorities living in the karst-studded province of Guizhou, in southwest China. Amid extraordinary scenery, guests observe artisans practicing age-old techniques, from indigo dyeing to basket weaving to fashioning silver ceremonial headdresses. They are also invited to learn paper making and batik making from true masters.
Raise global citizens. 
Foster a sense of social and environmental responsibility in your children – and have a blast in the process – during a 12-day Big Five Tours & Expeditions tiger conservation trip in India. Sleeping under the stars in a bed on stilts; witnessing Bengal tigers, leopards, and rusty-spotted cats (the world’s smallest felines) slinking around their jungle homes; and meeting resilient families living in the Dharavi slum makes an impression and plants the seeds for a lifelong interest in the larger world.
Set your sights on visionary guides.
“In my experience, the best guides are those who exceed the traveler’s expectations, but whose higher purpose is to make a difference in the local community or do research for scientific projects,” says Calgary, Alberta-based Virtuoso travel advisor Natasha Rhodes. “In the end, that provides a rewarding and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.” Your Virtuoso advisor can help you find companies renowned for the quality of their guides.
Hop on the bus. 
Greenhouse-gas fact: Coach travel reduces congestion and creates substantially less carbon per passenger mile – nearly 40 percent less than trains and approximately 85 percent less than cars and planes. With one of the most fuel-efficient coach fleets in emissions-stringent Europe, Luxury Gold goes further with initiatives from tree planting to cultural preservation. See for yourself during a 16-day tour of India, where you’ll join women hand-dyeing and block-printing in a small village in the Aravalli Mountains.
Ditch single-use plastics. 
Looking for a reason to skip plastic bottles and bags? How about trillions upon trillions of reasons – in the form of microplastic particles cycling around our oceans doing serious harm to marine life.

Carry a refillable water bottle. Bonus: Every time you ask for a source of purified water to refill your bottle, you signal that reducing plastic is a priority. Some hotels and resorts, such as The Jefferson in Washington, D.C., and The Brando in Tahiti, are a step ahead with alternatives to water in plastic bottles, including providing guests with glass carafes or bottles of purified water, or adding water fountains throughout the property.
Pack a reusable tote for market days. It’s smart and practical. Last year, Kenya banned plastic bags – and early reports say streets are cleaner and waterways clearer.
Skip straws. Ubiquitous and totally unnecessary, plastic straws have lost their suction. Many hotels and resorts are phasing them out and looking to eliminate all one-use plastics, including cutlery and toiletries.
Be a rhino ambassador. 
Hui Juan Lim, a Virtuoso travel advisor from Singapore, encourages travelers in
Asia to remember the rhino. Critically endangered – due, in large part, to the high demand for their horns in that part of the world – these impressive herbivores need us. “While our African partners are putting in their best efforts to protect rhinos from poachers, travelers should spread the word to their contacts in Vietnam and China not to purchase any rhino-horn products,” Lim says.
Discover an exemplary island. 
On a private island in the Koh Rong archipelago, Song Saa resort boasts Cambodia’s first marine reserve; programs to protect sea turtles, mangroves, and rare seagrass meadows; and community initiatives, including medical missions by boat. Even its 24 elegant thatched-roof villas are made from recycled and reclaimed materials.
Sleep in while progress is made. 
It’s fitting that The Goring, a boutique London hotel that makes sheltering guests so divine, would help find a way to put roofs over the heads of those without them. Last year, the multi-laureled, 69-room property in the palmy Belgravia district partnered with the city’s largest homeless resource center to launch Hotel School, an immersive training program that teaches hospitality skills to homeless and vulnerable people during 12-week programs, and then helps connect them to work.
Hang ten, but leave no trace. 
This year, Soneva Fushi, a 57-villa barefoot resort in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll in the Maldives, launched a sustainable surf program with eco-friendly surfboards, leashes, fins, and rash guards, plus sunscreen and board wax that marine creatures can love and local outreach to encourage the next generation to champion their home waters.
Pack charitably. 
Check out the Pack for a Purpose website to see what, if anything, is needed in the location you’re visiting,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Erin Green of Excelsior, Minnesota. “Many Virtuoso hotels are partners and collect donations from travelers for the local community. For example, Turtle Inn in Belize partners with a local primary school and collects much-needed school supplies that their guests donate.” You’ll find something to fill that extra space for the trip home.
Photo by Karandae/Getty Images
Embrace the spirit of aloha. 
Assistant editor Rebecca Ratterman reports: The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua recently emerged from a $30 million sustainablility-minded renovation. Works by artists with strong connections to Hawaii hang in each of its 463 refreshed guest rooms, exclusively native foliage now grows around the 10,000-square-foot, three-level pool, and a new smoothie shop, Kai Café, offers an array of locally sourced treats. But the property’s history of sustainability dates back to its origin. Just before the hotel opened its doors in 1992, management discovered a nearby wahi pana (sacred site), now known as the Honokahua Preservation Site, which inspired a campaign to prioritize and preserve other aspects of Hawaiian heritage. The hotel’s longtime cultural advisor Clifford Nae’ole ensures the resort’s accurate and genuine representation of and involvement with Hawaiian culture and people. Every April, the Celebration of the Arts Festival, which Nae’ole cofounded, shines as an event that highlights local rituals, food, art, and customs. Guests also engage year-round with Aloha E Ka La, a nightly sunset ceremony in the lobby, and weekly Sense of Place presentations on Hawaii’s history and future.
Photo by Thinkstock Images/ Getty Images

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