We love traveling to faraway places, discovering new favorite spots, breaking out of our routines and immersing ourselves in other worlds, getting to know other cultures and meeting new people, tasting unfamiliar foods, indulging in exciting activities, making a change from our everyday lives and creating unforgettable memories. Unfortunately, however, this very joy of travel usually comes with negative consequences for our environment. Global tourism is responsible for about 5% of climate-damaging emissions. In addition, there are a multitude of other environmental, social, cultural and economic negative impacts that are harder to measure but undoubtedly present.
But when sustainability meets wanderlust, it doesn't necessarily have to end in a contradiction. Slow travel is the counter-concept to the tourism boom of recent decades and implies slower, more mindful and thus more sustainable travel. Travel that has the smallest possible ecological footprint and allows more time to relax, experience holistically, breathe deeply and reflect.
The key to mindful travel is research, planning and preparation. Only if you deal with the topic and know which are the biggest problems when traveling, you can look for alternative ways and behave more environmentally friendly on the road. To make your planning a little easier, we have summarized the most important tips for mindful travel below.
Of the 5% of climate-damaging emissions that global tourism causes, 40% are caused by flights alone. For the arrival and departure of your trip, you should therefore rely on alternative means of transport such as the train, the bus or perhaps even the bicycle. According to the motto "The journey is the destination", slow travel should also include the journey itself in the travel experience. While we hardly notice anything of the way on the plane, on the train or bus we can consciously perceive how the environment gradually changes and we leave our familiar surroundings.
Local instead of long-distance travel
Although exotic overseas destinations are quite appealing to most travel enthusiasts, there are undoubtedly countless exciting places to discover within our continent and even national borders. How about, for example, taking a hiking tour in the Picos de Europa in Spain, discovering the winding alleys in Odeceixe in Portugal, photographing the black-and-white beauty of the "Alte Flecken" in the historic town center of Freudenberg in North Rhine-Westphalia or hopping into the Feldberger Seenlandschaft north of Berlin, admiring basalt columns in Northern Ireland or enjoying the hospitality of the people in Albania? Germany and Europe have so much to offer that a whole lifetime is hardly enough to travel to all the stops worth seeing, and for mindful travel, the shorter the journey to and from the destination, the less CO2 and other harmful emissions it causes.
The hotel or accommodation selection
Immersing yourself in life in another place is often easiest and most authentic with locals. In an Airbnb or a small guesthouse run by locals, you can usually learn a lot about the country, city and people. Usually people are open and happy to share their personal experiences, impressions and give tips off the beaten track.
But sometimes it doesn't have to be an exciting discovery. Sometimes you might just be looking for a cozy getaway in nature away from your usual routine. In that case, we'd like to share some of our favorite hotels in nature with you.
Small tip: When choosing a hotel, you can also always look for labels and eco-seals. You can find an overview for example here.
Hofgut Hafnerleiten in Bad Birnbach
For all those who are looking for a (online) time-out close to nature, the Hofgut Hafnerleiten in Bad Brinbach is exactly the right place. Distinguished for their unique architecture, the idyllically situated various themed houses, which are spread across the estate, invite you to switch off and relax.
During the day it is wonderful to relax in front of the fireplace, take part in cooking and barista courses or switch off in the wellness "feel-good" cubes. When hiking, horseback riding or on an extensive bike tour it can be immersed even further in the nature of the surrounding area. For the physical well-being of its guests the landlord provides personally and attaches great importance to healthy and fresh Mediterranean cuisine.
The ideal place to concentrate undisturbed on the essentials - on your own personal well-being.
Photos: Schlossgut Oberambach / Robert Kittel
Schlossgut in Oberambach
In the organic hotel Schlossgut Oberambach on Lake Starnberg, which has been run by the Schwabe family for 15 years, the environmentally conscious guest gets his money's worth. The beautiful estate, which served Franz Freiherr von Lobkowitz and his wife Marie Therese as a manor house in the 19th century, impresses with its magnificent view of Lake Starnberg and the Alps as soon as you arrive.
The 40 individual rooms are lovingly furnished and designed according to ecological principles. Relax and unwind in the versatile wellness area, where you can find everything from traditional Ayurveda to wellness treatments with natural cosmetics. The surrounding area, in turn, invites you to engage in sporting activities and discovery tours before returning to the hotel to enjoy the seasonal and regionally prepared fresh dishes. Many of the vegetables and herbs used come from the hotel's own Demeter-certified garden cultivation.
Klosterhof in Bayerisch Gmain
Are you in the mood for a wellness vacation in the south of Germany? Then you will love the 1500 m2 spa area of the Klosterhof in Bayerisch Gmain The Klosterhof sees itself as a place of inspiration between alpine luxury and family ambience. In the midst of untouched nature and with a beautiful view, you can feel good there without any restrictions.
And the topic of sustainability has also been part of the hotel concept from the very beginning. Ecological aspects became a central requirement in the planning already during the construction of the hotel. On request, e-bikes and e-smarts are made available to guests on site at low cost, water consumption has been optimized and attention is paid to waste avoidance and recycling. The sustainability efforts in the ecological, economic and social areas were also independently awarded the European Ecolabel.
Photos: CERVO Mountain Resort
CERVO in Zermatt
And last but not least, here is one of our absolute hotel favorites. Somewhere between modern design and cozy alpine hut flair is probably the fantastically located Hotel CERVO Mountain Resort in Zermatt. Ideally connected and at the same time located on the edge of the forest and on the slopes, the hotel's just over 50 rooms and lodges offer the most beautiful views of the Matterhorn and surrounding mountains of the Swiss Alps. Another highlight is the Mountain Ashram Spa, which combines peace and relaxation with centuries-old wellness traditions from around the world.
The conscious and ethical treatment of people and the environment is one of the principles of the house and therefore part of all processes as well as all areas. As a founding member of the Responsible Hotels of Switzerland CERVO wants to communicate its commitment to sustainable tourism to the outside world.
Reading with further recommendations
Our selection is limited to Germany and its neighboring countries. If you are looking for more hotel recommendations for mindful travel or if you feel like traveling a bit further afield, we would like to recommend the book “Bon Voyage” by Gestalten It is a collection of the "most beautiful boutique hotels for conscious travel" and wants to show you how you can travel the world mindfully and make it a little better at the same time.
Online, we would like to recommend you the Green Pearls platform, where you can find carefully selected hotels around the world with detailed information about their individual sustainability efforts
Activities on site
Whether it's just a few minutes by train from Berlin or Munich, in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco or on the beaches of the Portuguese Algarve. At your destination, you should always treat people and the environment with the utmost respect. Take time to consciously experience your surroundings. Read and learn about the history of the place, taste through the culinary specialties and talk to the people. Experience the place with all its facets instead of just catching brief impressions and get involved in the journey.
Wherever it takes you: We wish you a good and mindful journey!
Written by: Franka
Franka is a freelancer in the fields of marketing and communication and lives with her small family in Munich. She tries to consciously organize her everyday life in order to gradually integrate more sustainability into her life.