Gamechangers: Destinations - Full-Time Travel

Gamechangers: Destinations

Gamechangers: Destinations

This year, as we find ourselves (hopefully) emerging from the pandemic, it felt right to celebrate destinations that not only boast a plethora of natural beauty but are making strides to protect it. From under-the-radar places to tried-and-true spots, these eco-friendly destinations are making strides in sustainability, so you can feel good about where your tourism dollars are going. 

Costa Rica

From its golden coastline full of world-famous surf breaks to its cloud forests bursting with endemic flora and fauna, Costa Rica’s appeal has long been rooted in bountiful and diverse nature. It makes perfect sense, then, that the country is also a world-leader when it comes to sustainability and ecotourism. With a laundry list of green credentials that includes generating 99% of its electricity from renewable sources, legally protecting 28% of its land, successful reforestation projects, and an ambitious pledge to become the world’s first zero-carbon country by 2050, Costa Rica is certainly pulling its weight when it comes to slowing climate change. The benefits for tourists are obvious; this is a destination where you can see sloths in the wild, zip-line through lush canopies, hike to the rim of smoking volcanoes, salute the sunrise with a beach yoga session and soak in the pura vida lifestyle that make Costa Ricans some of the happiest and longest living communities on the planet. 

Bacalar, Mexico

Los Rapidos area in Bacalar | Photo by Medios y Media/Getty Images

If you’re forever in search of “the next Tulum,” a Mexican destination with the wow-factor that’s still relatively under-the-radar, Bacalar should be on your list. This idyllic spot in Quintana Roo is part of the “Pueblos Magicos” initiative, a series of towns recognized and celebrated by the tourism board for their cultural and historical significance. Situated near the Belize border, on a turquoise lake known as the Lagoon of the Seven Colors, it’s the Mexican destination in-the-know travelers are talking about right now. Book a stay at an overwater bungalow and spend your days exploring canals and cenotes by kayak, boat or floatie, or lounge in hammocks and sea swings while sipping a tropical cocktail. Plans to protect “the Maldives of Mexico'' are already underway, with sustainable hotels like Habitas Bacalar, Casa Hormiga, Hotel Eco Boutique Makaabá and the soon-to-open Boca de Agua leading the charge. 


Tourist snorkeling at Palau, Micronesia

Palau is a diver’s paradise. The remote island nation composed of hundreds of unspoiled volcanic islands is part of Micronesia, a region in the western Pacific Ocean renowned for its marine diversity and mesmerizing seascapes. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or have always wanted to take a course, this paradisiacal destination delivers – thanks, in part, to its proactive approach to ocean preservation. Around 80% of Palau’s territorial waters are a designated marine sanctuary, and back in 2009 the country created the world’s first shark sanctuary – a 200,000 square mile expanse of water where shark hunting is illegal. Building on its efforts to protect and conserve its underwater riches, Palau recently banned toxic sunscreens, so be sure to check yours is coral reef-safe before you depart for your Micronesian adventure.


By Frantisek Duris

Over the past few years, Slovenia has slowly gained the recognition it deserves as a bucket list-worthy destination. As we emerge from the pandemic with a renewed drive to seek novelty and adventure, Slovenia’s outdoorsy, action-oriented sensibility is more appealing than ever. To pre-emptively mitigate the perils of overtourism, the country has introduced a national “Green Scheme'' – a certification awarded to hospitality businesses who adopt eco-friendly practices. To join the scheme, hotels, restaurants and tour operators must follow an 11-step process which includes producing environmental reports and raising awareness, making it easier for you, as a tourist, to support business with a commitment to sustaining and protecting Slovenia's most beautiful places, from the majestic Julian Alps to the sparkling Adriatic coastline. 


Gothenburg, Sweden | by Pasi Mämmelä

On a trip to Sweden you get to dabble in strikingly beautiful nature, including the Northern Lights and the largest archipelago in Scandinavia, alongside cutting-edge cities known for chic design, culinary delights, and an Earth-friendly sensibility (the country’s second-largest city, Gothenburg, is the world’s most sustainable destination). From the country’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2045 to its Allemansrätt initiative (freedom to roam, forage, camp and enjoy outdoor recreation throughout the Swedish countryside), Sweden is perfectly positioned to welcome pandemic-enlightened travelers who want to explore more consciously. 

California, U.S.

Sequoia National Park | By Dave Herring

In light of the past couple of years, many of us have certain requirements and expectations from our 2022 vacation destinations. They should balance adventure with relaxation, cosmopolitan culture with awe-striking nature. Ideally, they should also be easy to visit (no complicated COVID procedures) with the appropriate safeguards in place if we were to get sick while traveling. One destination that ticks all the boxes, in our option, is California. From San Diego to San Francisco, from Lake Tahoe to Big Sur, and from Death Valley to Yosemite – Cali’s sheer diversity makes it one of the most magical states to visit. In its continued sustainability efforts, California recently announced a ban on the use of travel-sized plastic bottles in hotel rooms, so expect to see refillable shampoo and conditioner containers by 2023. 

There's more to Greece than the white and blue buildings and the surrounding Mediterranean Sea. If you're planning a visit, check out these places below!

📍Kokkinopilos. Preveza
📍Verliga Dragon lake, Thessaly
📍Ithaca island, lonian Sea
📍Aoos springs lake, Epirus
📍Lake Prespes, Macedonia
📍Balda di Stringa waterfalls, Epirus
📍Meteora, Thessaly
📍Pelion, Thessaly
📍Lake Zorika, Epirus
📍Mt Lakmos
📍Crete island, Aegean Sea
📍Gistova Dragon lake, Macedonia

Reel: @farawayfarers

Swim or kayak through the limestone cliffs of the Twin Lagoon, a must-visit destination for those traveling to Coron, Palawan, Philippines. It is called "twin" lagoon because it consists of two lagoons separated by a limestone cliff, with one lagoon on top of the other. The water in the inner lagoon is warm and clear, with a stunning turquoise color that makes it popular for swimming and snorkeling.

Reel: @travelifejournal

Take a dip in a series of seven saltwater lagoons located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The Lagoons of Baltinache are known for their beautiful turquoise waters and unique geological formations. The high concentration of minerals in the water gives it a unique buoyancy that makes swimming in the lagoons a unique experience.

Reel: @everchanginghorizon

Watching the sun rise above the clouds at Haleakalā National Park is one of the most memorable experiences you could have. Haleakalā is a Hawaiian name that means “House of the Sun” and is an awesome place to watch the clear night sky and stars fade away as the sun lights up the sky and the earth.

Reel: @girlchill_sunset

Just 1 hour from Shanghai by train, Cherry Blossom Valley is a popular tourist destination, particularly in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The valley is named after the thousands of cherry blossom trees that cover the area and create a stunning display of pink and white flowers. The trees were originally planted in the 1980s by a group of Japanese experts who were invited to China to help with reforestation efforts. The best time to visit is typically in late March or early April. Get there early to beat the crowds!

Reel: @cyncynti

New Zealand is unbelievable. See it for yourself:

1. Fiordland National Park
2. A classic backcountry hut trip
3. Blue Pools walk
4. Hooker Lake
5. Milford Sound
6. Lake Pukaki

Reel: @kylekotajarvi

Surrounded by lush greenery, towering karst mountains, and the river flowing through, the Detian Waterfall is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of the close relationship between China and Vietnam. It is the largest waterfall in Asia and the fourth largest cross-border waterfall in the world.

Reel: @sophoebelous

Escape to a serene and peaceful oasis away from the bustling city of Marrakech at Le Jardin Secret—a beautiful and historic garden where visitors can escape the noise and chaos and enjoy the beauty of nature. The garden was originally built in the 16th century and is home to many different species of plants, including exotic flowers, citrus trees, and palm trees.

Reel: @hypermiggzz

For a magical moment and bucket list travel experience, visit the end point of the annual monarch butterfly migration. Starting in August, the monarchs travel 2,800 miles south from Canada, making a temporary home amid the towering trees of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, where the two most popular sanctuaries to view them are el Rosario in the state of Michoacan and Piedra Herrada in Estado de México. Standing in silence while thousands of delicate wings beat in unison is something you'll never forget.

Reel: @juliiathompson

There's just something beautiful about snow covered landscapes like this popular attraction in southwestern Utah. Known for its unique geology, @brycecanyonnps_gov consists of a series of natural amphitheaters, called "hoodoos," formed by erosion of the rock layers.

Photo: @nathanleeallen

As we experience a couple more weeks of winter, we can't help but dream of tropical destinations like Hawaii. The warm water, sunny skies, and consistent waves make it an ideal destination for surfers. Hawaii has a vibrant surf culture and community and is also a beautiful place to explore outside of the water, with lush green mountains, stunning beaches, and unique cultural experiences.

Reel: @christopherballadarez

1. @sequoiakingsnps, California
2. @canyonlandsnps, Utah
3. @olympic_nps, Washington
4. @whitesandsnps, New Mexico
5. Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona
6. Knik Glacier, Alaska

Reel: @nathanleeallen

Imagine getting caught in the rain while kayaking at one of the most beautiful and popular destinations in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Known for its stunning turquoise-colored lake, surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains, Lake Louise is home to diverse wildlife, including grizzly bears, elk, and moose.

Reel: @reneeroaming