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How to plan a sustainable and thoughtful vacation

One top emerging travel trend is adventurers’ desire to explore the world in more sustainable, mindful and eco-conscious ways.

Travelling sustainably means being aware of the impact that your travel has on the environment and the destination you’re visiting. You might be wondering ‘where do I start?’

To ensure your next holiday is an experience that you feel good about, we have put together some trip-planning tips and best practices. Here’s how to travel thoughtfully and lower your environmental impact, plus a few destination ideas for sustainable travel.

woman using her laptop in her kitchen at home 

How to plan your trip in 5 sustainable steps 

To leave a light touch on our planet, follow these five best practices for travelling sustainability.   

1. Stay in eco-friendly accommodations

Stay at independent, eco-friendly lodgings that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint through solar panels, renewable energy, bio-architecture, waste reduction, using non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning products and reducing their energy and water consumption.

You can find an eco-friendly hotel on booking platforms like Ecobnb, Eco Hotels,, or searching for sustainable luxury resorts at Regenerative Travel.

2. Bike, walk or use public transportation

Ride ferries, buses, trains or simply walk when you’re exploring. This reduces air pollution, improves road congestion and enhances your sight-seeing experience.

3. Respect local cultures

Research the local history, culture and etiquette to understand and conserve their cultural and artistic heritage. Your interaction with locals is one of the most rewarding parts of sustainable travel and preserves traditions passed down through generations.

4. Shop and eat local

Try to avoid big chains and franchises. When you support local businesses, you empower the local economy. This grows their businesses, creates jobs, keeps money in their community, lessens their dependence on outside investment and maintains their cultural traditions.

5. Avoid single-use plastic

When you avoid single-use plastic containers and water bottles, you reduce your contribution to global pollution. The production of plastic uses fossil fuels which release CO2 into our atmosphere and this contributes to climate change and global warming.

Here are 12 easy ways you can use less plastic when you travel, including packing your own cutlery, taking a bamboo toothbrush and using a reusable beverage bottle.

exploring lush jungle on a lake 

Sustainable travel destinations 

Here are a few destination ideas to help inspire your travel planning. As a reminder, it’s a good idea to always check on current travel advice and advisories for your destination before you book.

 rio celeste falls 

Destination 1: Costa Rica

Why visit: Costa Rica is the world’s pioneer in sustainable travel.
Go to see: The Osa Peninsula on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast.
Did you know: The wild Osa Peninsula has an incredible 2.5% of the Earth’s biodiversity in just 0.001% of its surface area. About 80% of the peninsula is protected, much of it in Corcovado National Park, where you can go on guided trail excursions with local groups like Caminos de Osa and Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre. From jungle lodges around Drake Bay, you can enjoy rainforest hikes, mangrove swamp tours, surfing at Cabo Matapalo, whale watching, snorkelling or diving at Isla del Caño. 

helsinki aerial finland 

Destination 2: Helsinki, Finland

Why visit: Helsinki vows to be carbon neutral by 2035 and invites visitors to take the sustainability pledge.
Go to see: Tour the entire city on a rented bike, as Helsinki’s bike rental system is the most used by any city in Europe. Helsinki is a vibrant, seaside city with one of the world’s best transportation systems, plus it’s easy to walk and bike everywhere. For a complete list of how to travel sustainability in Helsinki and Finland, check Visit Finland for destinations and companies that have been awarded the Sustainable Travel Finland label.
Did you know: If you’re heading there for a chilly month, be sure to layer up with the Finnish designer Pure Waste, whose clothing is made from 100% recycled material and gives you free delivery for orders over 100 Euros within Finland, while the Finnish designer LUMI produces eco-friendly bags and accessories.

walking on a beach 

Destination 3: Bhutan

Why visit: The Kingdom of Bhutan is the world’s only Buddhist monarchy and the gold standard of environmental stewardship. This landlocked country in the eastern Himalayas offers gorgeous landscapes and is the only carbon-negative country in the world.
Go to see: Trek up the winding path to the Tiger’s Nest monastery in Paro. Want to see wildlife? Bhutan has leopards, Bengal tigers, elephants, monkeys, red panda, black bear and the national animal is the (rare) takin which is like a sheep or goat mixed with a musk ox.
Did you know: Over 70% of Bhutan’s land is under forest cover which acts as a natural carbon sink. As a result, the Kingdom absorbs more carbon dioxide than it produces. Bhutan exports most of its renewable energy that it generates from fast-flowing rivers, so it can offset 6 million tons of CO2 emissions.

For more great eco-friendly destinations, here are the 20 most sustainable cities in the world and the ten greenest countries in the world. 

senior couple having a video call with their doctor 

Travel safely

Wherever you travel, and whatever you plan to do while you’re there, it’s also a good idea to cover your trip with travel insurance. BCAA Travel Insurance offers comprehensive protection so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

With BCAA you get $10,000,000 in coverage for emergency medical expenses, including 24/7 Virtual Care in the event of a claim*. Plus, whenever possible we will pay your medical provider directly so you aren’t out of pocket. BCAA Travel Insurance also offers valuable ways to save from FREE coverage for your kids and BCAA Members always save 10%**. Plus, choose optional coverage for trip cancellation & interruption, lost baggage and more. Learn more at Learn more at


*The availability of virtual care depends on your geographic location, medical emergency and remains subject to the discretion of BCAA Claims Assistance. Travel Insurance is sold through B.C.A.A. Holdings Ltd. dba BCAA Insurance Agency, a licensed insurance agent and is underwritten by BCAA Insurance Corporation. Insurance claims are administered by Orion Travel Insurance, a division of Echelon Insurance, and its subcontractors, Active Care Management (2018) Inc. and Global Excel Management Inc. and all policy terms, conditions, exclusions and limitations can be found in the policy wording at The availability of virtual care depends on your geographic location, medical emergency and remains subject to the discretion of BCAA Claims Assistance. 

** BCAA Member savings on insurance products are only available with Basic, Plus, or Premier Membership plans. For full details, please visit Dependent children are free on family Travel Emergency Medical policies with two paying adults. Adults must be age 59 or younger. Policy terms and conditions apply.