Sustainable Journeys – Making Sustainability Simple

By Melissa Tilling Founder, Sustainable Journeys

In 2020, the seed for a revolutionary concept in holiday experiences was planted with the launch of Charitable Travel, a social enterprise – a new dawn in tourism with purpose over profit. Charitable Travel was grounded legally and ethically in the principles of community benefit and philanthropy, proudly carrying the #travelforgood banner.

As this ethos took root, customers and supporters drove our need for travel options that not only promised unforgettable experiences and the chance to give back, but did so with a staunch commitment to sustainability. From customer feedback, surveys and a team commitment to a deeper mission, Sustainable Journeys emerged. A visionary tour operator aimed at harmoniously blending fantastic travel experiences with environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

In our key survey, 62% of those polled wanted a more sustainable holiday but only 17% of those surveyed were confident in knowing and trusting where to find holidays with sustainability at their core.  

“Whilst there is a growing demand for sustainable travel, we accept that customers don’t buy something called sustainability

We also discovered that to many, sustainability is just an ethical concept, most understood in terms of carbon-emissions and single-use-plastic. Ultimately, customers wanted to learn more and do more.

Whilst there is a growing demand for sustainable travel, we accept that customers don’t buy something called sustainability, they buy amazing holidays with sustainability ‘baked in’. To that end, instead of waiting for this to become the norm, we decided to offer it now and share it now.

The ethos of Sustainable Journeys sets us apart from conventional travel operators. Even the few that have developed travel with sustainability in mind. While others may treat sustainability as a supplementary feature or part of ‘product’ creation, at Sustainable Travels we embed it deeply into the very fabric of our holiday offerings. This means full transparency on the sustainability of each travel component, acknowledging the complexities of achieving perfect sustainability in travel, and striving for better, more responsible choices at every opportunity.

Building on this, we will shortly be adding a science-based carbon-emissions number to each journey as well as a ‘Ripple Score’ based on NGOs Planeterra’s calculation of the local economic value for each tour we offer. 

Central to our philosophy is a proactive stance on the climate emergency. We acknowledge the environmental implications of air travel, yet also recognise its necessity under certain circumstances. Our approach advocates for sustainable flying (non-stop flights, economy class, lighter fuel-efficient aircrafts) and alternatives such as rail travel within Europe, to lessen the ecological footprint of our journeys.

We meticulously select local partners who share our dedication to sustainable tourism, ensuring our travels are authentically beneficial to both the environment and the communities we engage with.

Our mission resonates with a guiding aspiration: to provide our customers with extraordinary travel experiences that not only celebrate the planet’s diversity and beauty but also contribute positively to the well-being of local communities and the preservation of cultural and natural heritage. We endeavour to align our practices with the UN Tourism’s definition of sustainable tourism, which emphasises the pillars of environmental conservation, social inclusivity, and economic viability.

“We pledge not perfection but progress, offering the opportunity to travel more thoughtfully”

From the ‘drawing board’ to the destinations, our journeys are crafted with a pragmatic and enabling approach towards sustainability. We pledge not perfection but progress, offering the opportunity to travel more thoughtfully. Our considerations span avoiding peak seasons to mitigate overtourism, exploring less-visited places to diversify economic benefits, prioritising transportation options that minimise carbon emissions and selecting accommodations and activities that are supportive of the local economy and minimise impact on the environment.

Our featured journeys, such as the exploration of the Finnish Lake District, the Low Carbon Grand Tour of West Sweden by Electric Vehicle, and Baltic tours by rail and electric car, exemplify our commitment to sustainable exploration. These carefully curated experiences not only promise adventure but also embody our principles of environmental respect, social equity, and economic sustainability.

At Sustainable Journeys, we are more than just a travel company; we are a driving force in a movement towards a more sustainable future in tourism. Our dedication to this cause is unwavering, inviting travellers to join us on a journey of discovery, responsibility, and impactful change. As we continue to expand our horizons, our commitment to enabling more sustainable travel choices stands firm, inspiring a meaningful difference, one sustainable journey at a time.


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