Best Places for Sustainable Travel to Reset for the New Year

Written in partnership with bloggers Jules and Christine of Don't Forget to Move

The New Year is the perfect time to travel. While most people are hermitting after the holidays, you can actually score some awesome travel deals during January and February. It can also be incredibly therapeutic to start off the new year (and a new decade!) with travel. Taking a New Year’s trip can instill a sense of excitement to what is normally a dreary time of year (if you live in the Northern hemisphere). More than that, it can help you reset after what is inevitably a stressful holiday season. 

Even if you’re not a New Year’s resolution type of person (let’s be real, goals of “drink more water” and “become a morning person” usually don’t make it past mid-January), travel is different. Traveling in the New Year sets the tone for the rest of your 2020. Travel helps us stay mindful, live in the moment, push our comfort zones and reconnect with our authentic selves. It also helps make us more aware of our impact on the world. Taking your favorite reusable LifeStraw products on your travels, for example, is one easy way to start the year off sustainably. Keeping up that eco-conscious momentum throughout the year will help reduce your carbon footprint through 2020!

If you need some destination ideas for your first big trip of the decade, here are the best places to travel to reset for the New Year:

 

Palau

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Named as the world’s most sustainable tourism destination for 2019 by Lonely Planet, Palau is a country that may not have previously been on your radar. The Republic of Palau is an archipelago of over 500 islands in Micronesia. And when you see photos of this place, you’ll understand why the country is so committed to environmental protection. The water is incredibly blue and the landscape is pristine. 

A trip to Palau is perfect for starting off the new year reconnecting with nature in its most glorious form. Scuba diving is one of the biggest draws for visitors. Palau has some of the most colorful coral reefs in the world and is known as the “Underwater Serengeti.” It even has WWII coral-covered shipwrecks to explore! And don’t miss Ngardmau Waterfall, the tallest waterfall in Micronesia. Be sure to have your LifeStraw on hand, because the short but tough 30-minute hike will you leave you thirsty! 

Palau is so committed to sustainability that every visitor to the country must sign the “Palau Pledge,” pledging to preserve and protect the country’s natural resources during their stay. They will also ban the sale and use of reef-toxic sunscreens next year. 

Starting your new year off with a trip to Palau will inspire you to begin 2020 with a commitment to environmental sustainability.

 

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

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Ometepe Island, located in the middle of Lago de Nicaragua, may not be a world-class destination (yet!), but its rustic charm and lack of development make it a perfect place to getaway in the New Year. The island is made up of two looming volcanoes and is the world’s largest island inside a freshwater lake. The Ometepe Sustainability Group has worked hard to keep the impact of tourism as low as possible. That’s why this island has become a stand out ecotourism destination. 

If you’re looking for adventure, climb Maderas Volcano, a 6 to 8 hour round trip hike, or the more challenging Concepcion Volcano, a steep 1610 meter climb that takes about 8 to 11 hours. Afterward, take a dip in the Ojo de Agua, a natural swimming pool with crystal clear water that is said to have healing qualities. Grab your LifeStraw Steel and test it out for yourself!

Pro tip: In January the weather can be a bit windy, so if you get a seasick make sure to take one of the large ferries to the island, rather than a small lancha

 

Yosemite, California

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There’s no doubt that Yosemite National Park in California is beautiful year-round. But it’s particularly stunning in the winter months. Although it was the nation’s third national park, Yosemite Valley was actually the first area of land to be protected by the government. And when you visit, it’s not hard to see why. From the majestic rock walls of El Capitan and Half Dome, to the giant Sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove, you could literally spend months exploring the park’s 748,436 acres! Don’t miss Yosemite Falls, one of the world’s largest waterfalls, and grab your Lifestraw Universal bottle to drink the nearly frozen slushy water cascading down! 

Most of the national park’s visitors come during May through October, leaving the winter months quiet and serene. If you’re not up for camping in the snow, you can rent one the park’s famous canvas tent cabins that will give you the chance to get off the grid and recharge for the New Year.

 

Camino de Santiago

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If Europe is on your to do list for 2020, why not get started right away with a getaway to Spain? The Camino de Santiago is a perfect trip to reset in the New Year. The Camino is a network of trails originally used as a pilgrimage leading to the shrine of Saint James the Great. Nowadays, people from all over the world use the Camino to see the Spanish countryside by hiking, biking and even running different parts of the trails. Not only will you leave this trip feeling super fit, using walking as your only form of transportation during your trip will make your travels much more sustainable. Just don’t forget your LifeStraw Go, which you can use to refill from the public drinking fountains along the way!

The most popular part of the route takes from 30 to 35 days to complete if you walk 14-17 miles per day. The terrain isn’t particularly difficult (it’s mostly flat), but walking 15 miles/day for a month is no easy feat! Afterward, you’ll be feeling immensely proud of yourself and ready to take on the new year!

Jules and Christine make up the team at Don’t Forget To Move, a blog that specializes in promoting responsible tourism and inspiring adventure travel around the world. They write about authentic travel experiences and help you get off the grid, have an adventure and do it in a sustainable way. Follow Jules and Christine on Instagram and Facebook.