Once upon a time, the words sustainable and luxury were anything but synonymous. In days gone by, luxury holidays were supposed to be grand and indulgent, while the words ‘eco holiday’ conjured images of a primitive campsite.
But no longer. The world’s changing fast and with every year, we’re made increasingly aware of our impact and duty to protect Mother Earth. Naturally, this collective consciousness has fed into the luxury travel industry: holidaymakers are beginning to recognise that their holiday shouldn’t leave destruction in its wake.
A recent study by research group Altiant found that almost half of the affluent consumers they spoke to across Europe, North America and Asia were willing to spend 10 per cent more on travel in order to safeguard the environment. Over a third said they’d be happy to pay more than 10 per cent extra for a trip that prioritised sustainability.
And, here’s the good news. You can readily reduce your holiday’s impact without compromising on the quality of your experience. At Globe-Trotter, we maintain that sustainable travel extends beyond the action itself – after all, we did pioneer the ‘one case to last a lifetime’ movement.
Indeed, Globe-Trotter luggage has invariably been revered for its durability. When esteemed cardiologist Professor Timothy Counihan returned home to Dublin in the 1960s, his navy blue Globe-Trotter covered in stickers from far corners of the globe, he jumped up and down on the case to demonstrate its indestructibility.
What’s more, you can rest assured Globe-Trotter cases never go out of style. The trailblazing ordnance surveyor John Evans bought his first from a tropical outfitter in 1956. It was still proudly in use as late as 2004; when his sons went off to boarding school, each sent off with one of John’s treasured Globe-Trotters.
So, if you’re looking for a sustainable case, we’ve got you covered. And if you’re trying to plan a truly sustainable holiday, we can help too. Read on, as we catalogue five sustainability trends set to dominate the luxury travel industry in years to come.
1. Travel Clean
Clearly, one of the biggest hurdles standing in the way of sustainable travel is the negative impact of travel itself. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be acutely aware of your own carbon footprint – and the fact that it swells exponentially each time you step aboard a plane.
Indeed, the Swedish term flygskam (flight shame) has quickly spread across the globe – leaving prospective tourists facing a moral dilemma every time they fly. But, limiting your carbon footprint doesn’t mean cutting out air travel altogether. Of course, we’d always advise travelling by car, train or boat wherever possible – but there are also plenty of ways to reduce the impact of long-haul trips.
Why not start by choosing a conscious carrier? More and more airlines are prioritising sustainability – many of them launching innovative programs. Delta has promised to cancel half of its fossil fuel emissions by 2050, Cathay has cut plastic use and committed to biofuels, while Alaskan Airlines has pioneered fuel-saving technology and funded green research projects.
If you want to go even further, you can offset your carbon emissions through programs like Cool Effect and Earthly. And remember, cutting your carbon footprint doesn’t stop when the plane’s wheels hit the ground. Cycle tours use no fuel and are a great way to discover a new destination; trains and buses are far better than taxis, and offer an authentic slice of local culture.
Ultimately, offsetting your carbon footprint just requires a little thought – oh-so worth it if it means enjoying guilt-free travel.
2. Reconnect With Nature
In erstwhile times, reconnecting with nature meant little more than kicking back on the beach. But today, that’s all changed – as tourists continue to seek out back-to-roots adventures, low-impact holidays and nature-positive trips. In 2019, market researcher Euromonitor presciently claimed that ‘luxury travellers are searching for experiences that align with their eco-conscious values.’ As 2023 approaches, that trend shows no sign of slowing down.
Shopping sprees and gallery trips have long been holiday staples, but many travellers are discovering they prefer diving headfirst into the wild surrounds.
River and lake kayaking trips have seen a huge rise in recent years, while walking and cycling tours continue to grow in popularity. These kinds of adventures prioritise solitude and restoration – and offer a sense of fulfilment that more traditional holidays often lack. If you really want to go all out, why not ditch the four walls of your favourite hotel and try camping out under the stars? There’s nothing quite like being adrift in nature’s clutches.
Of course, there are so many ways to restore your bond with the natural world. Instead of your annual skiing holiday, you could opt for a more sustainable winter adventure – like a close-to-home safari in Scandinavia or Scotland. Or you might consider a nature-positive holiday, which actively seeks to reverse the damage associated with traditional tourism.
After all, the world’s our oyster – but only as long as we protect it.
3. Look Local
Tourism has long carried affluent travellers to less economically developed countries. But while the industry has been a driver for growing nation’s economies, that income hasn’t always trickled down into local communities.
Increasingly aware of this fact, travellers are taking efforts to plan trips which give back. This offers endless benefits – not all of them selfless. Looking local ensures holidays can become a force for good, yet also often provides a more authentic, memorable experience.
There are so many ways you can support local communities when you travel. Forget agency-planned tours and meals at multi-national chains; instead, engage a local guide and stumble into neighbourhood eateries. Homestays can offer a great hotel alternative – though more and more resorts are also giving guests opportunities to give back. You can dive in on a beach clean, spend an afternoon volunteering or support local nature drives.
Even immersing yourself in culture – taking time to learn about a region’s history or visiting less-popular landmarks – can help protect and enshrine tradition and heritage.
Tourism should support, not scupper, the communities it crosses. And a little effort goes a long way. Make sure to look local on your next adventure – you never know what you might discover.
4. Go Eco
Luxury travellers have often been wary of the phrase ‘eco hotel’. Understandably so, since for many years ‘going green’ meant sacrificing on quality: settling for cold, leaky showers, long-drop toilets and less-than-stellar accommodation.
But things have profoundly changed in the past few years. As concerns over sustainability have grown, the luxury travel industry has found ways to incorporate nurturing practices. Luxury wellness retreats, eco resorts and glamping escapes with the likes of Canopy & Stars have sprung up the whole world over – giving travellers a wealth of options when it comes to choosing a stay that helps rather than hurts the environment.
There are so many ways hotels and resorts can practice sustainability. They can eradicate plastic, encourage guests to conserve energy and protect their natural environment. Safeguarding culture – and making sure tourism doesn’t damage local communities – is equally important; while committing to ‘hire local’, and train up staff, can make a real difference.
Booking.com recently introduced a ‘Travel Sustainable Badge’, making it much easier for tourists to find properties with strong practices in place. Meanwhile, a number of pre-eminent hotels have pioneered ground-breaking programs.
Take Soneva, who have steadfastly committed to sustainability across all their properties – and managed to generate $400,000 in 2018 through their trailblazing waste-to-wealth drive. Egypt’s Adrère Amellal – whose Kershaf walls are almost indescribable – has done away with electricity altogether; while Tierra Patagonia plants a tree for every visitor who stays.
Wherever you look, hotels are launching creative new initiatives. Why not ditch energy-guzzling hotel groups and book a stay somewhere that supports nature? Trust us, you’ll feel better for it.
Photography featuring the Centenary XL Suitcase provided by Daisuke Akita.