Traveling is good for the soul but it sure can rip a hole in your pocket. Now if only there was a way to roam the world and not blow up all your savings on a clean bed and hot shower. Turns out there are several options that combine safe, comfortable and planet-friendly accommodation where your carbon footprint will be negligible, and your conscience will be light.
We rounded up eight cool places run by amazing folks, where you can stay during your travels. Check them out and bookmark their websites for your upcoming travel plans:
- If you’re cycling your way to adventure and using pedal power to explore the world, it makes sense to connect with The Warm Showers Community, which is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. Here you can reach out to folks who live along your route and find out if they’re willing to offer you a place to crash for the night, which could be a couch, a room or even their backyard to set up camp.
- One of the most famous options for those who dislike boring cookie-cutter hotel rooms (which consume a lot of energy), and prefer unique living experiences when they travel, AirBnB allows you to choose from a variety of accommodation. Choose from a range of apartment flats, quaint little houses and villas in more than 34,000 cities across 190 countries.
- Similar in concept is a global community of 10 million people in more than 200,000 cities who are part of a movement where they get to share their life, their world, and their journey. Couchsurfing connects travelers with a global network of people willing to share in profound and meaningful ways, making travel a truly social experience. They encourage you to ignore hotel chains and instead, enrich your traveling experience by staying in the homes of strangers, or as they describe it, “just friends you haven’t met yet.”
- If you would like to live in a place powered by 100 percent renewable sources, heated by a modern, wood-burning, CO2-neutral heating system with hot water warmed by solar panels, check out the JetPak Hostel in Berlin. Aside from using completely green power, they divide their waste into recyclables, those that are returnable to the manufacturer for re-use and compost the rest. But if you thought they were all hippie, think again. They also offer free 24-hour high speed internet, nightly big-screen movies, indoor entertainment in their VIP lounge and boast a large outdoor recreation area. Three major museums are within walking distance, as is an extensive trail system through the pristine Grunewald Forest.
- Then there’s the completely carbon-neutral Meininger Hotel Brussels City Center, which was once a brewery that was converted into an exhibition space for art. It now sports 150 comfortable 3-star rooms with 719 beds. Super design friendly and a cool hybrid of a hotel and a hostel, it attracts all kinds of travelers, and is great for families as well as solo voyagers.
- Launched in 1985, High Street Hostel is the first independent youth hostel in Edinburgh. More traditionally known as Morton House, it is fun, cheap, friendly, comfortable and easy-going. This historic place in central Edinburgh caters to backpackers, budget travelers, students, and world explorers and offers dorms, deluxe quads and twin rooms, with facilities like a party lounge, self-catering kitchen, a quiet lounge, as well as internet and WiFi. They claim that they’re the only hostel in the world whose mattresses get cleaned in washing machines.
- Combining style with environment-friendliness, the Grampians Eco YHA offers travelers a getaway to nature. While it’s exciting that you can find wild kangaroos relaxing right next to the hostel, it also boasts of facilities such as free on-site car and coach parking, two self-catering kitchens, two guest lounges with cozy wood fire heaters, a pool table, free Wi-Fi hotspot and a herb garden. Activities that you can indulge in range from bushwalking and hiking, horse-riding, kayaking, wildlife watching, rock climbing and abseiling, aboriginal culture and history, and of course, wine tasting.
- While it may be exciting to focus on the historical aspect of Portland’s Hawthorne Hostel, which was built in 1909, it is much more rewarding to appreciate its sustainable business practices that include a green roof, rain water collection which diverts surplus rain water through the toilets, 70 percent recycling of their waste and an on-site compost, as well as eco-friendly products for cleaning. All of this even earned them a Gold Certification from Sustainability at Work for 2011-2014. With their brightly colored walls, mosaics, a custom built stage, and a spacious backyard, this hostel promises to be the perfect eco home-away-from-home.