Not so long ago, green travel was barely on the radar. With the exception of back-to-basics campsites and the odd yurt or two, the eco-travel experience was limited to say the least, and shunned by the majority who put the environment and travel together and arrived at the conclusion that it was something for hippies but no one else. How times have changed. Currently the market for green holidays is growing at a whopping 25 per cent per year according to market analysts, Mintel, while 42 per cent of UK consumers said that they were aware of how their travel choices could positively affect local communities. But despite the increased interest in responsible travel, greenwash has become a big problem, with 63 per cent sceptical of what hotels and tour operators are saying about their green policies. Clearly, it’s no longer enough for companies and hotels to claim planet-friendliness while hiding the details of what they actually do.
Thanks to the murk surrounding green issues in the travel sector, holiday makers have been left uncertain of where to look for their eco-friendly break. ‘It is possible to deliver sustainability and value without raising the prices,’ Gap Adventures’ Billy Connelly told US travel site, Green Travel Guides. ‘Over the long term, responsibility and efficiency can be very cost-effective paths.’ If Connelly is to be believed, you can have the best of both worlds but who can you trust to tell the truth about travel? The success of travel review site, Trip Advisor, has led to an explosion in the number of blogs claiming to have the inside track on the green travel business. Away from traditional media such as the Ecologist, it’s here that eco-oriented travellers are coming to look for warts-and-all reviews, travel inspiration and full disclosure on which trips make the most eco-sense. So which are worth reading? We’ve got the lowdown on the blogs bringing transparency to the travel industry and showing that there’s no need to sacrifice style in the name of sustainability while on the move.
The lowdown: Launched in 2006 by former Guardian travel journalist, Richard Hammond, Green Traveller offers a mixture of reviews, destination guides and holiday inspiration. It also has a handy travel planner that lets you tailor your travels to your interests, whether it be culture, adventure or cycling. Also worth checking out is the rail, bus and ferry finder widgets, which allow you to plan a flight-free journey without breaking a sweat.
Destinations covered: Europe, Russia and Ukraine
We say: Quirky accommodation ideas (tree house anyone?) plus easy to use widgets make it brilliant for anyone planning a holiday. Reviews are honest and big on environmental details.
Read it: www.greentraveller.co.uk
National Geographic Adventure
The lowdown: An offshoot of National Geographic magazine, the National Geographic Adventure blog is packed with tips for travellers taking a trip on the wild side. Whether it’s packing for a camping expedition or advice on how to get your children exploring the great outdoors, the blog has plenty for active types to love. Conservation, responsible tourism and wilderness travel are popular themes.
Destinations covered: National parks and nature areas worldwide
We say: Good for travellers who like to get off the beaten track without harming the planet. The practical advice on making the most of outdoor experiences is impressively comprehensive.
Read it: adventureblog.nationalgeographic.com
Green Travel Blog
The lowdown: As the name suggests, the Green Travel Blog is dedicated to all things eco-travel and features a mixture of destination advice and top tips from its stable of bloggers. Along with the usual yurts, nature and trains, Green Travel Blog looks at ways to make activities such as golfing planet-friendly as well as entertaining ideas on to get to grips with local culture. The main focus is on outdoor activities (think surfing, golf, riding and so on) but there's also a wealth of handy hints on how to reduce costs while keeping it green.
Destinations covered: Anywhere the editor thinks is interesting.
We say: The informative and well written destination guides make Green Travel Blog essential reading for anyone planning a trip. The smorgasbord of tips for budget travellers are handy for students and families alike.
Read it: www.greentravelblog.org
The Man in Seat Sixty-One
The lowdown: Technically more of a extended travel widget than a blog, The Man in Seat Sixty-One (aka Buckinghamshire based traveller, Mark Smith) is dedicated to getting abroad without taking the plane. It covers, in exhaustive detail, how to get to just about everywhere imaginable in Europe using public transport as well as advice on how to travel further afield. Should you have three months (and plenty of cash) to spare, Smith has even worked out how to get to New Zealand without ever taking to the skies.
Destinations covered: The UK and Europe plus some North America, Middle East, Africa, Australasia and Asia
We say: Packed with links and comprehensive information on how to travel the world by train, ferry and bus, this is the ultimate site for green journey planning. Smith even offers advice on what to do while waiting to change train.
Read it: www.seat61.com
The Feiring Line
The lowdown: Written by Time magazine wine expert, Alice Feiring, the Feiring Line takes in everything from where to find biodynamic wine to tips on wine tasting. In short, if the idea of travelling around France and Italy, savouring the best those country's organic vintners have to offer is your idea of holiday heaven, then Feiring's blog is for you. Forthright, entertaining and boasting a bacchanalian passion for wine, The Fairing Line is a one-stop-shop for all things wine.
Destinations covered: Europe
We say: Essential reading for wine buffs, whether you fancy a tour of Europe's biodynamic vineyards or just a new tipple to try.
Read it: alicefeiring.typepad.com
Sustainable Travel International
The lowdown: One for serious greenies, Sustainable Travel International offers a mixture of news and thoughtful features looking at conservation, global warming and biodiversity. If you want to know how Antarctic ice-melt is affecting tourism or which countries are launching sustainability initiatives in the travel sector, then Sustainable Travel International has it covered.
Destinations covered: Special focus on polar regions plus a smattering from the rest of the world
We say: If you need encouragement to travel more responsibly, Sustainable Travel International will soon have you mending your ways. Also explains how to give back to the local community, wherever you’re headed.
Read it: blog.sustainabletravel.com
The lowdown: If your idea of travel heaven involves getting stuck into the local gastronomic scene and making the most of fresh organic produce, then Travelling Naturally has plenty for you to love. A mix of restaurant reviews and witty wanderings into the world of food, blogger Dorian travels the world searching out sustainable food pioneers for us all to admire. Along with food, Travelling Naturally is a good source of information on green travel apps – Dorian’s forthright critiques make entertaining reading.
Destinations covered: Anywhere that offers good food
We say: If you’re after an honest look at the world of organic eateries, Travelling Naturally is great. If cuisine isn’t really your thing, give it a miss.
Read it: travelingnaturally.blogspot.com
Copenhagen Cycle Chic
The lowdown: An eccentric blend of style and cycling, Copenhagen Cycle Chic reads like a cross between Face Hunter and Love Cycling. The brainchild of Copenhagener, Mikael Colville Andersen, the blog offers tutorials on how to look good in the saddle, great photos of fabulously dressed people on their bikes and tips on how to pimp your (two-wheeled) ride. Whether you’re planning a trip to the Danish capital or not, perusing Copenhagen Cycle Chic is an excellent way spend a couple of idle hours.
Destinations covered: Copenhagen
We say: From avoiding sartorial disasters while out and about on your bike to cycling tips and street style, Copenhagen Cycle Chic might be based in Denmark but you can make the most of Colville Andersen's advice wherever you are.
Read it: www.copenhagencyclechic.com
The lowdown: Written and edited by former Irish Times columnist, Catherine Mack, Ethical Traveller has plenty on the Emerald Isle along with forays into Europe and some entertaining rants, including, most recently, a post entitled ‘Do punters give a toss about responsible tourism?’ Although Mack concludes they do, she laments the way green tourism is perceived as being ‘not fun’. She knows it’s not true, so makes a point of showing just how entertaining responsible travel can be. Mack is also the creator of the Green Ireland Travel app, which, should you be heading across the Irish Sea, can be downloaded from the blog.
Destinations covered: UK, Ireland, Europe
We say: News, views and travel ideas from one of Ireland’s best known travel journalists make scrolling through Ethical Traveller a real pleasure. Mack is a passionate advocate of responsible tourism and as a result, provides an inspiring read.
Read it: www.ethicaltraveller.co.uk
Ski Green Guide
The lowdown: With everything from green ski resorts to tips on how to reduce the environmental impact of your winter break and plenty more besides, Ski Green Guide is a one-stop-shop for eco-conscious skiers and snowboarders. Run by self-confessed ‘ski bum’ Dave Meyer, it takes a closer look at the issues surrounding winter travel and offers some practical solutions. There’s also a regularly updated news feed looking at the impact of climate change on the snow season and a guide to green spots to hit the slopes.
Destinations covered: Europe, North America
We say: From offsetting your carbon to learning how to avoid disturbing wildlife on the black run, Ski Green Guide has everything you need to enjoy winter sports sustainably.
Read it: skigreenguide.com
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