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    9 Ideas for Traveling

    the World More







    F1RST Selects

    9 Ideas for Traveling the World More Sustainably 

    A look at some of the hotels, tour groups, cruise lines, and other industry leaders setting the tone for sustainable travel. 








    Over the past year, sustainable travel continues to expand, especially against the background of the pandemic. 

    “The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the power and opportunity that sustainable travel has globally. We saw people begin to truly understand the economic, social, and environmental impact of travel when the industry came to a standstill and jobs were lost, conservation efforts were halted, and more,” Jessica Hall Upchurch, who leads Virtuoso’s sustainability effort, told us in our discussion on sustainable travel last year. “The pandemic also gave a pause for the industry, and travelers, to stop and consider what is truly important to them, heightening people’s desire to travel—and to make their travels a force for good.”

    That’s a positive change for people and the planet. So how are countries, along with hotels, cruise lines, and others in travel focusing on sustainability—and what initiatives are they enacting to support their efforts? Here are 9 who are leading the way: 

    Abercrombie & Kent

    This longtime player in the travel industry—they’ve been in the game for 60 years—offers group tours, custom itineraries, and cruises in some 100 countries across the globe. Through their nonprofit, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP), they contribute to and work with a variety of on-the-ground programs focused on sustainability, including wildlife conservation and environmental initiatives. And they offer travelers the chance to see this work up close. One example? The organization works with Save the Albatross, a program in Antarctica that helps keep albatrosses safe—and on their cruises to the continent, travelers can both see these birds and find out more about why they need to be protected.

    Aurora Expeditions

    With its small ships, this cruise line heads to a number of off-the-beaten-path destinations, including the Arctic, Greenland, and Patagonia, as well as places like Scotland, Panama, and Iceland. And it has various sustainability measures, with practices like carbon neutrality and energy-efficient programs for water and waste already in place. Now, it’s working toward additional initiatives, including both a sustainable food program, which should be set up by this year, and, for next year, becoming a B-Corp— a certification that measures  “a company’s entire social and environmental impact.” Also cool? They offer a Citizen Science Program, where travelers can learn from onboard experts and participate in a variety of eco-friendly projects.

    Colorful houses in Ittoqqortoormitt, Greenland

    Colorful houses in Ittoqqortoormitt, Greenland

    An albatross flying above the water.

    Iceberg in Antarctica.

    An albatross flying above the water.

    Iceberg in Antarctica.

    Beyond Green

    Want an easy way to figure out which hotels are great for sustainable travel? Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ new brand, Beyond Green, which launched in 2021, is a collection of properties that “exemplify sustainability in action.” Properties are included, as they explain, “based on their commitment to delivering on the three pillars of sustainable tourism: environmentally friendly practices that go beyond the basics; protection of natural and cultural heritage; and contribution to the social and economic wellbeing of local communities.” And now, F1S is part of their new agency’s exclusive Green to Gold program. Available at Beyond Green properties around the world, including Borgo Pignano in Tuscany, Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California, and Turtle Inn in Belize, the program includes perks like daily breakfast and a $100 donation made on your behalf to one of the hotel’s “Sustainability In Action” initiatives.

    Bison roam freely across Vermejo’s vast wilderness


    If images of stunning wildlife and pristine nature come to mind when you think of Galapagos, an archipelago off the coast of Ecuador, you’re right. But it’s also one of the foremost areas focused on the protection of the animals and the environment people come to see. There are specific rules in place for how you can move about this UNESCO World Heritage Site—for instance, certain protected areas can only be accessed with an authorized guide—and tourism providers have to have measures in place for things like water conservation and hiring and training locals. Galapagos Conservancy, a nonprofit that works to protect the area, also recommends visiting with a tour provider, like Silversea, that’s committed to local conservation.


    With locations in Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Namibia—plus a host of others opening soon, including in Costa Rica and Bhutan—this brand’s ethos of “building hotels that exist with nature, not instead of it” can be felt throughout their properties, which have a natural and design-forward vibe. The company has committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include things like responsible consumption and a focus on health and wellbeing, and their sustainability initiatives run the gamut from cutting single-use plastics to hiring within area communities and sourcing food locally. In Tulum, for example, they work with a reforestation program to offset carbon emissions, while in Namibia their wildlife conservation initiative helps house rhinos and giraffes.  

    Natural Habitat Adventures

    This nature and adventure-focused tour company, which has been carbon-neutral since 2007, has an almost 20-year partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). They promote and provide conservation travel, which they describe as “life-transforming forays into the natural world that benefit wild habitats and the animals and people who live there.” Through the partnership, they raise and donate money to support WWF’s initiatives, along with passing on fun perks to travelers, including having WWF experts join in on some trips. And you can go almost anywhere in the world, seeing and experiencing nature from all facets, whether that’s a polar bear tour in Canada, a family adventure in Costa Rica, or a trip to see the rainforests and orangutans in Borneo.

    Polar Bear in Canada.

    Sealion in Punta Suarez, Galapagos Island.

    Habitas’ Canyon Villa in Saudi Arabia.

    New Zealand

    Sustainability is such a key tenant of the county’s tourism, that their industry association, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, created The Tourism Sustainability Commitment back in 2017. With a vision of “leading the world in sustainable tourism”, they now have a set of 12 Commitments that companies and businesses can use to up their eco standing by 2025. That includes everything from “embracing Aotearoa New Zealand’s culture and heritage as part of delivering a unique and authentic visitor experience” to “contributing to protecting and enhancing Aotearoa New Zealand’s environment, including water, biodiversity, landscapes, and clean air.” In particular, their current focus is on reducing carbon emissions, with a goal of becoming net-zero within the next two decades.

    Rocky Mountaineer

    While train travel might harken back to a simpler time, Rocky Mountaineer’s sustainability initiatives are definitely eco-forward. Along with practical features like reusable flatware and energy-efficient features in their newer cars, they support nonprofits that protect wildlife, among others, and plan on redirecting upwards of 90 percent of their waste from landfills by next year. And we love this employee perk: On your work anniversary, the company plants a tree—with over 13,000 planted so far. And the trains themselves? Routes cover western Canada (think Vancouver, Whistler, Banff)  and parts of the U.S., and amenities include glass-domed cars for full-on views of the gorgeous surroundings.  

    Paddle-boarding on Goat Island, Auckland, an island in New Zealand.

    Sublime Comporta 

    This hidden gem about an hour from Lisbon in the coastal town of Comporta, Portugal, is all about sustainability—from the design of the hotel (some villas have trees in them to preserve the trees) to the solar panel-powered heating to the fact that its “100% autonomous with regards to drinking water and irrigation.” Set on over 40 wooded acres—but only about 10 minutes from incredible beaches—guests can also reap the benefits of the organic garden and orchard, with herbs and produce used throughout the property (even the spa) and the bio pool, where instead of being treated with chemicals, they use only aquatic plants. The brand’s newest location, in Lisbon, is set to open on May 1. 

    Sublime’s Bio-Pool Suites.

    Sublime’s mission is both sustainable and socially responsible.

    Oranges grow in Sublime’s on-site organic garden.

    Virgin Voyages

    Virgin kicked off its cruise offerings in the Caribbean last year and continues this spring, when its newest ship, the Valiant Lady, debuts in the Mediterranean. Along with amenities like well-designed cabins, tons of innovative entertainment, and even a tattoo artist on board (!), there’s a significant focus on sustainability here. That includes things like using energy-efficient technology, offering sustainable seafood and other eco-minded food choices, and using recycled ocean plastic to create their onboard wearable, The Band. One fun fact: They’re the first cruise line to be carbon neutral for its ‘direct emissions footprint’ since the start. 

    The  Valiant Lady ship by Virgin Voyages. 

    Whether you’re ready to book one of these properties, tours, or places—or want to learn about how F1S can help you travel more sustainably, we’re happy to help. Reach out to us at today. 

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