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  • Writer's pictureImogen Hall

10 Sustainable Trips for Families


Taking the environmentally-friendly option: on the bus in Vienna, August 2020.


If your family loves to travel but you all worry about the environmental, social and economic impact of doing so, then it’s time to take a more sustainable approach to your trips. We’ve got ten destinations where you can minimize the impact of your family’s travels.


Austria

Start by exploring the kid-friendly eco-city of Vienna which boasts more organic farmland than any other city and has both ‘Green Taxis’ and plenty of bike share stations to get around. Find a small-scale farmstay to stay in, then keep the family’s legs moving by cycling, hiking and swimming in Weissensee. Finish with a visit to Werfenweng, a car-free playground-rich lakeside town with green vehicles for visitors.


Vienna has a large number of playgrounds, some fantastic museums for children and the splendid Schloss Schönbrunn where kids can dress up.


Fiji

Leave the resorts and cruise ships behind and head off the beaten track to stay in a homestay in a village. Your kids will kids learn all about Fijian culture and your money will go directly to the community you’re staying in. With older kids you can go further and volunteer in both marine conservation and community projects, with the help of a reputable organisation.


San Francisco, US

San Francisco is perfect for a city break which is going to delight both the kids and your sustainability principles. The city banned plastic bags and bottles years ago, diverts 80% of its waste from landfill and has more than 1000 eco-friendly hotels. Plus most of the fun things to do with kids can be accessed without using a car and many involve green spaces or learning about public transport.


Head to the Exploratorium for an incredible hands-on science museums in a purpose-built solar-powered building which is aiming to be zero net energy.


Volcan Tenorio Area, Costa Rica

When you think about taking your kids to Costa Rica, you normally focus on watching and protecting its incredible wildlife. But what about giving something back to the human residents too? One way to support local communities and understand the Tico culture is by staying on a farm and there are loads of lovely options in the Rio Celeste area. Kids can take a hand in looking after animals and learn about traditional farming methods.


Base yourselves in Bijagua, a small town that’s a big leader in rural community tourism due to the co-operative behind the Heliconias Rainforest Lodge.

Supporting local businesses and taking an eco-friendly option: the Ffestiniog Railway from Portmadog.


Wales

For a relatively small area Wales packs a large punch in terms of sustainable activities for kids. Camp in one of many green campsites around Pembrokeshire or travel north to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Powys, where children can have fun learning about sustainable living. Don’t forget to factor in a spin on the world’s only people-powered roller coaster at the eco-friendly Greenwood Forest Park in Snowdonia.


Find an environmentally friendly campsites in Wales here: www.greenercamping.org


South Africa

As a country which has long had a responsible tourism policy, South Africa boasts plenty of opportunities to explore its incredible culture and environment in a sustainable manner. It’s also really fun for families with easy wildlife viewing (and on many reserves you can get involved with helping) and a variety of different cultures and landscapes to explore.


Start your search for a responsible operator in South Africa at www.fairtrade.travel/South-


Ecuador

This small South American nation is leading the way in sustainable travel with operators who are focussed on preserving both the indigenous way of life and the ecologically significant worlds of the Galapagos islands and the Amazon rainforest. Your kids can learn all about the importance of evolution and why our lifestyles need to be sustainable, take a socially-responsible tourist train and use bikes to get down the famous Ruta de las Cascadas.


Learn more about how Tren Ecuador works and supports the local communities on its route .


Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

In Khao Sok National Park, you can show your children a different side of Thailand while minimising your family’s impact on this incredible environment. Use a local guide to introduce you to the fascinating flora and fauna and make your base at one of the locally-owned community-focussed lodges. You can even overnight in a rustic raft house on Chiaw Lan Lake which involves using no electricity for the duration of your stay.


Active families will love the eco-friendly rafting, cycling, swimming and hiking at the Ankura Lodge.


Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania is a magical place for families. From treetop walks to messing about in boats, frolicking on the sand to the family-friendly ‘Discovery Ranger’ activities available in the national parks there’s plenty to keep everyone happy and the beauty of it is distances are small. There’s also a strong ethos of using locally-sourced (and delicious!) produce and a long-term sustainable approach to wildlife conservation and wilderness protection.


Follow @tasmaniaparks on Facebook to keep up-to-date with their family-friendly activities.


Dude ranches, USA

Visiting a dude ranch (a working cattle ranch where visitors are welcome) is super-fun for families: there’s a different pace to life (think of a day orientated around the farm jobs, out in the fresh air) and everyone can try something new whether its horse-riding, line-dancing or fishing. As working farms, it’s not hard to find a dude ranch that is focussed on self-sufficiency and sustainability, and many work carefully to support the local community.


The Dude Ranch Association (www.duderanch.org) has a useful blog post on ranches with sustainable credentials.


This article first appeared on LonelyPlanet.com in February 2020.

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