Remember those days when “sustainable travel” meant packing a reusable water bottle and agonizing over hemp vs. cotton clothing? In 2024, sustainable travel will be a full-fledged movement with exciting innovations and a deeper focus on cultural and environmental impact. Here’s what you can expect:

1. The Rise of Slow Travel

Forget whirlwind tours and ticking off landmarks. Travellers are embracing “slow travel,” immersing themselves in a destination for longer. Imagine spending a month in a charming Maasai village, learning the language, volunteering at a cattle ranch, and truly understanding the local way of life. This retiree couple I met in Mombasa last year boasted about their three-month stay in a restored farmhouse in Kajiado, where they soaked up the scenery and helped restore a local school library.

2. Tech for Good: Your Sustainable Travel Toolkit

Gone are the days of endless research and guesswork. In 2024, innovative tech is making sustainable travel more effortless than ever. Imagine using a carbon footprint calculator app that analyses different travel options, from flights to train journeys. Sustainable travel platforms are also booming, connecting you with eco-certified accommodations and local tour operators who prioritise responsible tourism practices. Uber has pledged to transform into an utterly zero-emission platform by 2040, with all rides taking place in zero-emission vehicles, on public transportation, or through micro-mobility options. Additionally, the company aims to have all rides in US, Canadian, and European cities take place in electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030.

3. Wildlife Watching with a Conscience

Wildlife tourism is a double-edged sword. But in 2024, the focus is on ethical experiences prioritising animal welfare. Travellers seek “Wildlife Heritage Areas,” where tourism directly supports conservation efforts. Imagine kayaking alongside dolphins in a protected marine reserve in Diani, knowing your presence directly contributes to habitat preservation.

4. Voluntourism 2.0: Giving Back While You Explore

Voluntourism is no longer about a quick photo op at an orphanage. In 2024, it’s about meaningful engagement with local communities. I recently joined a beach cleanup project in Nyali Beach, where I met other travellers passionate about protecting the island’s pristine environment. These projects are well-organised, ensuring your contribution has a lasting impact. Look for voluntourism opportunities that align with your interests, from wildlife rehabilitation in Laikipia to treating tooth cavities in Maasai Mara.

5. Embracing the “Undertourism” Movement

Overtourism is a significant concern. Have you seen one of those scenes in the Mara where tens of tour vans surround a lone cheetah? But travellers are now increasingly seeking “undertouristed” destinations. Imagine exploring the ancient Mbaraki Pillar in Likoni or hiking the breathtaking landscapes of Suguta Lol Marmar. These destinations offer a unique chance to experience authentic cultures and pristine environments without the crowds.

Sustainable travel in 2024 is not just about reducing your footprint; it’s about enriching your experience and positively impacting the places you visit. So, pack your bags, embrace the slow travel mindset, and embark on a journey that’s good for you and the planet!