What is Sustainable Travel?

What is Sustainable Travel?

The future of travel embracing sustainability | phoenyx rises- title image

Are you tired of the same old tourist traps and want to make a positive impact while traveling? Look no further! In this blog post, we delve into the fascinating world of sustainable travel, where adventure meets environmental consciousness.

What is Sustainable Travel?

Sustainable travel, also known as global sustainable tourism, isn’t just a passing fad endorsed by the trendiest influencers—it’s a vital movement championed by the World Tourism Organization that takes full account of the impacts of our actions on the planet. This global initiative is all about preserving the breathtaking beauty and rich cultural heritage of our beloved planet by considering the full scope of our environmental, social, and economic impact.

How Sustainable Travel Shapes the Future of Tourism

So, when you embrace sustainable travel, you’re not just reducing carbon emissions, supporting local communities, and respecting wildlife; you’re becoming a part of a legacy that ensures future generations can experience the wonders of our world too. It’s time to pack your bags with purpose and embark on an adventure that leaves footprints of change behind.

In this blog post, we’ll unravel the mysteries of sustainable travel and show you how to be an eco-warrior without sacrificing your wanderlust. Get ready to discover why sustainable travel matters, the principles that guide it, and practical tips on how to become a responsible globe-trotter. 

Why sustainable travel matters | phoenyx rises

Why Sustainable Travel Matters

Conventional tourism has often turned Mother Nature into a reluctant victim, contributing to the negative impacts of climate change that are happening even now, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration . From carbon-intensive air travel to excessive resource consumption at hotels, the environmental toll of traditional tourism is no joke. Moreover, local communities bear the brunt of overcrowding, cultural commodification, and economic inequality, prompting the urgent need for a shift towards sustainable travel practices that respect both nature and the people who call these destinations home.

Preserving natural and cultural resources isn’t just a fancy concept—it’s a crucial responsibility we owe to future generations who deserve to experience the wonders of our planet. Imagine a world where majestic rainforests are reduced to mere tales and ancient traditions become forgotten relics. By prioritizing sustainable travel, we can safeguard the course of the future, ensuring that our children and grandchildren inherit a world rich in biodiversity, vibrant cultures, and awe-inspiring heritage.

The Principles of Sustainable Travel

When it comes to sustainable travel, think of it as a three-legged stool supported by environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Each leg is crucial; miss one, and the whole thing wobbles. Together, they create a balanced approach that not only makes your travels more meaningful but also leaves a positive imprint on the places and people you visit. Now, let’s dive into what each of these pillars means in practical terms.

Environmental Sustainability: Treat Earth Like Your Home, Because It Is

You know how they say, “Leave only footprints, take only memories”? Well, that’s environmental sustainability in a nutshell. Picture this: you’re hiking in a gorgeous forest, and you see plastic bottles and candy wrappers strewn about. Pretty disappointing, right?

The concept here is simple: keep nature as pristine as possible for future generations to appreciate. This means reducing waste, conserving resources, and choosing eco-friendly options. Think reusable water bottles, opting for e-bikes instead of gas-guzzling tour buses, or even staying at hotels that are committed to being green. These may seem like tiny steps, but they add up!

Social Sustainability: Respect Local Cultures and Communities

Imagine going to a new country and just taking a bunch of selfies with locals like they’re part of the scenery, without even learning their names. Not cool, right? Social sustainability is about treating the people and cultures you encounter with the same respect and dignity you’d want for yourself.

This also extends to understanding the local customs, beliefs, and traditions. You know, the things that make a place unique and worth visiting in the first place. Engage in responsible tourism by maybe taking a local cooking class, joining a community-led tour, or buying local crafts instead of mass-produced souvenirs. In essence, it’s about making connections that are as enriching for the local people as they are for you.

Economic Sustainability: Spend Where It Counts

Lastly, let’s talk about the moolah! Your vacation dollars can actually do a lot of good if spent in the right places. Economic sustainability is about supporting local economies rather than funneling money into big corporations that might not even be based in the country you’re visiting.

Consider staying at locally-owned accommodations, dining in family-run restaurants, or shopping at local markets. This way, the money you spend is more likely to stay in the community and make a positive impact. It’s a win-win, you get an authentic experience, and locals get the economic boost they need. 

How to Be a Sustainable Traveler


Choosing eco-friendly accommodations & transportation options

Start by choosing eco-friendly accommodations and green transportation options that make Mother Nature proud. From eco-lodges nestled in nature’s embrace to electric scooters that zip through city streets.

Supporting Local Businesses & Communities

From savoring the flavors of local cuisine at family-owned eateries to picking up unique souvenirs from artisanal shops, you’ll not only satisfy your wanderlust but also empower the heart and soul of the places you visit.

Respecting wildlife & natural habitats

Practice sustainable travel by respecting wildlife and their natural habitats, giving them the space they deserve to roam, play, and do their wild thing without any meddling from humans. Whether it’s observing majestic creatures in their natural element or appreciating delicate ecosystems from a safe distance, remember that the best way to be a wildlife enthusiast is to be a respectful and unimposing guest.

Minimizing waste & conserving resources

Minimize waste and conserve resources on your travels by bringing along your trusty sidekick, the reusable water bottle. Ditch the single-use plastics and stay hydrated in style while doing your part to keep our planet plastic-free. It’s a small change that can make a big difference and earn you some eco-friendly kudos along the way.

Travel essentials | phoenyx rises

Pack Your Sustainable Travel Essentials

      1. Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated on your travels while reducing single-use plastic waste by carrying a durable, refillable water bottle. 
      2. Eco-Friendly Toiletries: Pack travel-sized toiletries that are eco-friendly and free from harmful chemicals. 
      3. Reusable Utensils and Straws: Avoid single-use plastic cutlery and straws by bringing your own reusable utensils and straws.
      4. Reusable Travel Bag: Choose a travel bag made from sustainable materials like organic cotton, recycled polyester, or hemp. Look for options that are durable, versatile, and ethically produced.
      5. Solar-Powered Charger: Stay connected without relying on conventional electricity by investing in a portable solar charger / bank.
      6. Eco-Friendly Sunscreen: Protect your skin and the environment by opting for reef-safe sunscreen that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate. Look for mineral-based sunscreens with ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
      7. Eco-Friendly Clothing: Pack clothing made from sustainable and ethically sourced materials like organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo. Choose versatile, durable pieces that can be mixed and matched to reduce the need for excessive luggage.
      8. Travel Mug or Thermos: Bring your own travel mug or thermos to enjoy your favorite hot or cold beverages on the go. Not only does it help reduce single-use cups, but it also keeps your drinks at the desired temperature.
      9. Biodegradable Wet Wipes: When necessary, opt for biodegradable wet wipes that are free from harmful chemicals and made from sustainable materials. They offer convenience while minimizing environmental impact.
      10. Digital Copies of Travel Documents: Instead of printing multiple copies of travel documents, store digital copies on your phone or tablet. This not only saves paper but also keeps your documents easily accessible and secure.
Volunteer Travel: Get Inspired to Make a Difference

Volunteer Travel: Get Inspired to Make a Difference

Hands open forming a circle - title image_ volunteer travel | phoenyx rises

Discover the transformative power of travel as we define it and delve into its profound impact on personal growth and global citizenship. Step outside your comfort zone, embrace new cultures, and embark on a journey that expands your horizons, enriches your perspective, and ignites your inner explorer. Join the global community of conscious travelers and discover how travel can shape you into a global citizen, empowering you to make a positive difference in the world.

Mountains in alaska and image of phoenyx in alaska - volunteering in nome | phoenyx rises

My First Experience with Volunteer Travel

Embarking on my first volunteering journey, fate led me to Nome, Alaska, where I initially joined the spirited Iditarod event. However, destiny had other plans, and I found myself at the doorstep of the local children’s shelter, where my purpose unfolded. Little did I know that this serendipitous encounter would forever transform me, igniting an unwavering passion to make a tangible difference in the destinations I explore. Brace yourself for a heartfelt tale of discovery, as I share how one trip can set your soul on fire and inspire you to be the change you wish to see in the world.


Nome, alaska sign | phoenyx rises

Venturing into the untamed wilderness of Nome, Alaska, I embarked on a journey that would push me far beyond my comfort zone. After enduring a grueling 23-hour flight with multiple connections, I arrived in this remote town where the living conditions painted a stark reality. Many residents were braving the harsh elements in makeshift shacks, surviving against the odds. 

While my initial intention was to contribute to the iconic Iditarod competition, fate led me to the local children’s shelter, where I discovered a profound need for warmth, love, and support. Witnessing the challenges faced by the neglected youth, I was shaken to my core, realizing that true travel is not just about ticking off destinations but about extending a helping hand to communities in need. 

It was a transformative experience that compelled me to embrace a new purpose in my travels—to make a positive difference wherever I go.

Finger touching water causing a ripple effect | responsible travel |phoenyx rises

Why Should You Participate in Volunteer Travel?

Before you start thinking this is all about hard labor and no fun, hear me out. Volunteering while traveling can be one of the most soul-enriching experiences you’ll ever have, and here’s why.

Making a Real Impact

How many times have you visited a place and thought, “Wow, this is beautiful” and didn’t give it a second thought? When you volunteer, you’re not just another face in the crowd of tourists—you’re making a tangible difference. Whether it’s teaching English in a remote village or helping with wildlife conservation, the work you do sticks. It becomes part of the local fabric, a lasting imprint that’s far more impactful than a social media check-in.

Personal Growth

Ever feel like you’re caught in a never-ending cycle of work, sleep, repeat? Breaking away from the humdrum to help others can be an incredible growth experience. Not to get all “woo-woo” on you, but there’s something transformative about service. It challenges you, reshapes your perspective, and ignites a part of you that perhaps you didn’t even know existed. And that newfound sense of purpose? Trust me, it’s addictive—in the best way possible.

True Cultural Immersion

Tourist spots are great and all, but there’s something raw and authentic about plunging into local life. And what better way to do that than to roll up your sleeves and work alongside the locals? This isn’t just surface-level interaction; it’s a meaningful exchange where you learn about their way of life, traditions, and values. You’re not just a spectator; you’re part of the community, even if it’s just for a little while.

Lifelong Connections

Ever notice how a shared mission can forge the strongest friendships? The people you meet while volunteering often become more than just casual acquaintances. There’s a sense of camaraderie, an unspoken bond that comes from working together for a greater good. These connections can last a lifetime, making your travel experiences all the more rich and rewarding.

So, why volunteer travel? Because it’s not just about seeing the world; it’s about changing it—and letting it change you, too. If you’re looking to make your trips more meaningful and to grow both as a traveler and as a human being, this is your ticket.

Volunteers in huddle - how to choose the right volunteer program | phoenyx rises

Preparing for Your Volunteer Adventure

Embarking on a volunteer trip requires careful preparation to ensure a smooth and successful experience. Here are some practical tips to help you get ready for your volunteer adventure:

1. Research travel requirements

Start by researching the travel requirements for your destination. Check if you need a visa or any specific travel documents. Make sure your passport is valid for the duration of your trip and has enough blank pages for entry and exit stamps.

2. Get necessary vaccinations

Depending on your destination, you may need certain vaccinations or medications to protect your health. Consult with a healthcare professional or visit a travel clinic to get up-to-date information on recommended vaccinations and health precautions.

3. Pack essential items

Prepare a packing list tailored to your volunteer trip. Include necessary items such as comfortable clothing, sturdy shoes, toiletries, a first aid kit, insect repellent, and any specific equipment or supplies requested by the volunteer organization. Don’t forget to pack a positive attitude and an open mind!

4. Learn about the local culture and customs

Familiarize yourself with the local culture, customs, and traditions of the community you’ll be volunteering in. Respect and cultural sensitivity are essential in establishing positive relationships and avoiding unintentional offenses. Learn a few basic phrases in the local language to show your willingness to connect with the community.

5. Embrace flexibility and adaptability

Volunteer travel often involves working in diverse and ever-changing environments. Be prepared to adapt to unexpected situations, different living conditions, and varying work schedules. Flexibility and an open-minded attitude will help you navigate challenges and make the most of your experience.

6. Connect with the volunteer organization

Reach out to the volunteer organization before your trip to clarify any questions or concerns you may have. They can provide valuable information about logistics, expectations, and specific project details. Establishing a good line of communication with the organization will ensure a smoother experience.

7. Take care of your well-being

Prioritize your physical and mental well-being during your volunteer adventure. Get adequate rest, eat nutritious meals, and stay hydrated. Remember to practice self-care and engage in activities that help you recharge and maintain a positive mindset.

By following these practical tips and embracing cultural sensitivity, open-mindedness, and flexibility, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on your volunteer adventure. Remember, the journey is not only about the impact you make but also the personal growth and transformative experiences you’ll gain along the way.


Is Volunteer Travel Safe?

When it comes to volunteer travel, safety is a valid concern. However, with proper research, planning, and precautions, you can ensure a safe and rewarding experience. First and foremost, it’s crucial to thoroughly research the destination and understand any potential risks or safety considerations. Look for reputable volunteer organizations that prioritize safety and have established protocols in place.

Additionally, taking personal safety measures is essential. This includes staying informed about local customs and cultural norms, being aware of your surroundings, and following any guidelines or instructions provided by the organization. It’s also wise to have emergency contact information readily available and to share your travel itinerary with trusted individuals.

Remember, volunteer travel can be a life-changing experience, but it’s important to prioritize your safety and well-being. By conducting thorough research, planning ahead, and choosing reputable organizations, you can embark on a safe and impactful journey that allows you to make a positive difference while safeguarding yourself.

How much does volunteer travel cost?

The cost of volunteer travel can vary depending on several factors. Program fees, travel expenses, and accommodation are among the key considerations. Volunteer programs often have associated fees to cover administrative costs, project materials, and support services. These fees can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the duration and location of the program.

In addition to program fees, travel expenses such as airfare, visa fees, and transportation within the destination need to be taken into account. Accommodation options can vary from hostels and shared dormitories to home-stays or volunteer houses, each with different costs.

To make volunteer travel more affordable, it’s important to budget and plan ahead. Research different programs and compare their fees to find one that aligns with your budget. Consider volunteering in less expensive destinations or for shorter durations. Fundraising can also be a great way to raise money for your volunteer trip. Organize events, reach out to friends and family, or explore crowdfunding platforms to gather financial support.


Together, we can create a world where kindness, understanding, and compassion reign supreme. Let the adventure begin, fellow changemakers. It’s time to make a difference and leave a legacy that will inspire generations to come. 

Share your inspiring stories, lessons learned, and tips for meaningful volunteer travel in the comments below!