5 vacations that make a sustainable impact

As travelers increasingly look to make sure their trips are sustainable, what does travel that makes a sustainable impact look like?

Sustainable travel benefits the communities visited as much as it does the traveler. That means preserving the environment and natural resources, as well as ensuring that economic gains from travel stay in the local community and are shared equitably. And according to a survey by, 87% of global travelers believe it's important to travel sustainably. 

To meet this need, AAA Travel is working to offer more travel packages that align with 5 of the United Nations' Sustainability Development Goals.

What does that look like in practice? We highlight 5 travel packages that each make a sustainable impact in one of the 5 key areas.

1. Country Roads of Umbria & Tuscany guided tour

Sustainable travel pillar: Gender equality

A key part of sustainable development is ensuring that women are included. When women have equal opportunities to work in, lead, and own travel-related businesses, the economic benefits visitors bring are more equally distributed. 

Marta Cucchia is the Giuditta Brozzetti Museum Workshop's master weaver, as well as the great-granddaughter of the workshop's founder and namesake. | Photo courtesy of Insight Vacations

A travel package supporting this United Nations Sustainable Development Goal is the Country Roads of Umbria & Tuscany tour from Insight Vacations. Travelers on this trip visit a weaving workshop in Perugia, Italy, where women are preserving medieval and Renaissance weaving traditions. Founded in 1921 by Giuditta Brozzetti, a woman entrepreneur, the Giuditta Brozzetti Museum Workshop has been passed down from mother to daughter for 4 generations.

As part of Insight Vacations' Make Travel Matter Experiences program, which is designed to positively impact both travelers and destination communities, visitors get to see how the weaving cooperative is preserving centuries-old traditions, including weaving demonstrations on looms that date as far back as the 1700s. They can also peruse crafts for sale, including cushions, bookmarks, and scarves.

In visiting and supporting the project, travelers help empower women via training and employment in weaving and also in e-commerce. They also help preserve one of the few remaining traditional frame hand-weaving workshops in Italy. 

Support the Giuditta Brozzetti Museum Workshop weavers with Insight Vacations' Country Roads of Umbria & Tuscany guided tour

Other highlights on this 9-day tour include visits to the Vatican Museums in Rome and the Duomo in Florence, a tour of a family-run olive mill, and a stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets of Siena, along with much more.

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2. Scotland: Isles of Lore & Legend guided tour

Sustainable travel pillar: Decent work & economic growth

Another pillar of sustainable travel is productive and dignified employment for all. That includes employment opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as the promotion of local culture and products. For example, buying crafts made in the place you're visiting, instead of imported merchandise, creates economic opportunity for the local people who make them.

Invisible Cities trains people affected by homelessness, like Angus in Edinburgh, to give walking tours of their cities informed by their personal experiences. | Photo courtesy of Invisible Cities

One of the best ways to keep the benefits of travel in the area is to hire a local guide. AAA Member Choice Vacations' Scotland: Isles of Lore & Legend package goes further with a city tour from Invisible Cities, a British organization that trains people who've experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides.

Invisible Cities says their guides “simply live and breathe the city,” sharing their personal insights and experiences alongside historical information. The program aims to support those experiencing homelessness while also eliminating the stigma that they often experience.

Support Invisible Cities with AAA Member Choice Vacations' Scotland: Isles of Lore & Legend guided tour

Other highlights on this 12-day tour include a visit to Edinburgh Castle, a sheepdog demonstration, a guided tour of a Highland farm township, ocean views from a hotel in Loch Melfort, and whiskey tasting at a local distillery, along with much more.

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3. The World's Greatest Show & Safari

Sustainable travel pillar: Sustainable cities and communities

For development to be sustainable, there must be positive social and environmental links between urban and rural areas—growth can’t benefit one while harming the other. Sustainable travel can promote this by incentivizing communities to value and protect natural resources that draw travel investment.

The Wildlife Warrior Program aims to educate East African youth about wildlife conservation and produce the next generation of conservationists. | Photo courtesy of the Land & Life Foundation

A good example can be found on African Travel’s World's Greatest Show & Safari package, where travelers visit the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. It encompasses almost 100 square miles and is a sanctuary for 70 different mammal species, including endangered rhinos protected by anti-poaching teams. The conservancy re-invests money from visitors into the community, including the Land & Life Foundation, a group that describes itself as “committed to ensuring that local communities receive revenue and tangible benefits from tourism.”

The foundation’s Wildlife Warrior Program gets young people interested in conservation work and seeks to educate the future generation of conservationists. It hosts events and contests for kids, grants scholarships to promising students, and provides them with free safari trips, helping to foster connections between communities and the ecosystems around them. 

African Travel’s World’s Greatest Show & Safari tour includes a donation to support a child's participation in the Wildlife Warrior Program. And if the school schedule permits, travelers can also meet some of the kids benefiting from the program.

Support the Wildlife Warrior Program with African Travels' World's Greatest Show & Safari guided tour

Other highlights on this 12-day safari include the famous large-tusked elephant herds of Amboseli, Africa’s big cats, endangered Grevy’s zebras and reticulated giraffes, a visit to Ngorongoro Crater, and much more.

Contact a AAA Travel Advisor for more information

4. Alaska Inside Passage cruise

Sustainable travel pillar: Life below water

It’s estimated that up to 80% of life on earth is found in the ocean, so responsible conservation of marine resources is a critical part of sustainable growth. Though they’re not the only challenges, overfishing and other destructive fishing practices are one of the biggest threats to ocean life.

Holland America Line's Global Fresh Fish Program offers locally and responsibly sourced seafood, such as Alaska black cod on Alaska cruises. | Photo courtesy of Holland America Line

Travelers looking to enjoy the ocean’s bounty responsibly can sail aboard any of Holland America Line’s cruises. Their new Global Fresh Fish Program provides locally and responsible sourced fish when sailing from ports around the world—more than 80 varieties from more than 60 ports. That includes mahi-mahi in Hawai‘i, barramundi in Australia, and wild salmon in Alaska.

In fact, on all its Alaska cruises, Holland America only serves sustainable Alaska seafood. It's the only cruise line to have received Responsible Fisheries Management certification for doing so. 

Holland America Line's Savor My Catch excursions let travelers to Alaska and other destinations catch their own fish and have them prepared for dinner by professional chefs.

Travelers who want to truly see their fish go sea-to-table can book one of Holland America’s Savor My Catch excursions, on which they can reel in their very own catch and have it cooked for them by the ship’s chefs for dinner. Popular on Alaska cruises, Holland America is expanding the excursions to other destinations too.

Enjoy sustainable Alaska seafood aboard Holland America's Alaska Inside Passage cruise

Other highlights on this 7-night cruise include the calving ice of Glacier Bay National Park, sightseeing aboard the White Pass & Yukon Railway, whale watching for orcas and humpbacks, and much more. Or enjoy responsibly sourced seafood on Holland America's other cruises around the world.

Learn more and book your cruise | Browse other Holland America cruises

5. Icelandic Adventure guided tour

Sustainable travel pillar: Life on land

Sustainable development allows for the use of land ecosystems while protecting their biodiversity—the breadth and depth of plants and animals that live there. Travelers can help by generally reducing how much their travel contributes to impacts like habitat loss, but also by specifically supporting conservation projects.

Jóhanna Thorvaldsdóttir with Prins, one of her Icelandic goats. Jóhanna started the Icelandic Goat Center to prevent the extinction of Icelandic goat.

One of these is the Icelandic Goat Center in Haafell, Iceland. Founded by Jóhanna Thorvaldsdóttir in 1989, it’s one of very few places in the world that breed the unique and endangered Icelandic goat. The breed is descended from goats brought to Iceland by the original settlers in the 8th century for their milk, meat, and cashmere wool.

Few in number, the goats have faced extinction more than once and remain at risk. Travelers on the Icelandic Adventure guided tour from AAA Member Choice Vacations enjoy a visit to the Goat Center and get to meet Jóhanna and her charismatic goats. They also get to sample and buy specialties made on-site, including milk, cheese, sausage, and cashmere textiles. Visitors help support the farm and keep the Icelandic goat going strong after more than 1,100 years. 

Support the Icelandic Goat Center with AAA Member Choice Vacations' Icelandic Adventure guided tour

Other highlights on this 10-day tour include the chance to interact with Icelandic horses, whale watching from a Zodiac boat, visits to Thingvellir National Park and the awe-inspiring Gullfoss waterfall, and a truck excursion atop the Langjokull glacier, along with much more.

Learn more and book your trip online


Let a AAA Travel Advisor help you plan your sustainable vacation

Whether there's a specific cause you have in mind or you just want to make your next vacation more sustainable, a knowledgeable AAA Travel Advisor can handle all the details.

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