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14 of the most eco-friendly travel companies in Europe

Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve uses solar energy to power its 12 suites
Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve uses solar energy to power its 12 suites   -   Copyright  TTC (The Travel Corporation)

With summer on the horizon and lockdowns slowly lifting, it’s only natural that we’re starting to dream about getting away on holiday. But it’s an inescapable fact that the travel industry is one of the most polluting on Earth. If things are not managed properly, our getaways can be extremely damaging to local environments and habitats.

With that in mind this Earth Day we’ve found seven of the most eco-friendly travel companies. By choosing to travel with an organisation on this list, you’ll be helping to offset emissions, support local wildlife and cut down on plastic and food waste.

Whether you’re looking for an action-packed adventure or a relaxing cruise you can travel with a clear conscience after seeing these businesses’ green credentials.

1 - Contiki

Contiki arranges more than 350 trips all over the world and specialise in trips for 18-35 year olds, Contiki are paying to offset all carbon on their future trips. This includes meals, accommodation and transport. Their efforts will fund forest conservation in Australia and renewable energy in the USA. The travel company is also into biofuel coaches and offers vegan friendly menus for tourists. They are hoping to be carbon neutral by January 2022.

2 - Better Places Travel

Better Places Travel is a female-run group of travel experts who connect you to specialists all over the world who will create a tailor made experience just for you. Better Places signed up to Tourism Declares Climate Emergency in 2020 with a pledge to reduce CO2 emissions by 55 per cent by 2030. They impose a voluntary flight tax on themselves which goes to fund sustainable energy projects and give free water bottles to customers who promise not to buy a water bottle on their trip.

3 - Black Tomato

Luxury travel experts Black Tomato have established their green credentials by calculating their quarterly carbon emissions and then investing in environmental projects such as wind farms and forest conservation in Panama and wind energy in India, on top of that they aso partner with groups who protect Rhinos in Kenya.

4 - Intrepid

Specialising in adventure and group travel, Intrepid has been carbon neutral since 2010. After declaring a climate emergency in 2020 they now offset 125 per cent of their carbon emissions and aim to use only renewable energy by 2030. Intrepid are also committed to the global empowerment of women and invest heavily in the Eden Reforestation project in Kenya.

5 - Much Better Adventures

This adventure holiday company which offers kayaking and ‘aurora chasing’ also has a climate plan which focuses on carbon mitigation, conservation work and benefiting local communities. Much Better Adventures uses 5 per cent of their revenues to fund conservation and reforestation and are working to stop the damming of the Vjosa, Europe’s last free-flowing river.

6 - Wilderness Scotland and Wilderness Ireland

Wilderness Scotland are committed to sustainability through restoration projects all over Scotland. They have also installed a ‘Seabin’ off Scotland’s west coast which captures plastic waste and are contribute to native habitat restoration.

7 - Green Traveller

Originally a travel blog, Green Traveller launched as a fully fledged website in 2009. They offer tips on how to have a low carbon holiday including no-flight destinations and vacations where people can positively contribute to biodiversity.

8 - Exodus Travels

Focused on people, places and planet Exodus Travels declared a climate emergency in 2020. As part of their efforts the company have eliminated plastic bottles from 99 per cent of their trips and are engaged in rewilding projects in Finland and tiger conservation in India.

9 - The Inside Trek

This Northern Ireland-based hiking tours company is looking to invest in an electric vehicle in the coming year and has adjusted their routes to involve less car travel in an effort to bring down their CO2 emissions.

10 - Red Carnation Hotels

Red Carnation Hotels have properties in the UK, USA, Botswana and South Africa and always engage with local communities. This results in caring for bee populations, protecting Red Cape Zebras and investing in one of London’s largest ‘living walls’, made up of 10,000 herbaceous plants.

11 - Uniworld Cruises

Providing cruises around Europe and South America, Uniworld committed a decade ago to a clean water program to preserve waterways and rivers for future generations. Since then the cruise company has pledged to eliminate 66 types of single-use plastic from their boats by 2022.

12 - The Long Run

Working to the four Cs - conservation, community, culture and commerce - The Long Run has developed sustainable eco destinations for their customers to visit. They are part of Preferred by Nature and support land management and business practices that benefit people, nature and the climate in countries around the globe.

13 - Steppes Travel

Luxury tailormade travel can be found at Steppes, who are passionate about sustainability. For every person that books with them Steppes pledge £50 that goes to fund conservation projects around the world and a further £50 that funds tree planting in the UK.

14 - Trafalgar

Trafalgar has 11 climate-related goals including completing 30,000 volunteer hours before 2025 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. They aim to reduce food waste in their hotels and ships by 50 per cent by 2025 and are committed to increasing their use of local produce in the same time frame.