It’s been a long and circuitous path, but here we are. Travel Greenest is on its way to seeing the light of day!
But just what is Travel Greenest?
I happen to be one of those people who are super picky about the places I explore and where I lay my head while traveling. I want where I’m going to stay for a couple nights or longer to have a touch of character that reflects the history, culture and beauty of the destination, be situated in at least a half-way decent location, and have some interesting, pleasant hosts, if hosts come with the package (or have no hosts around at all, if privacy and seclusion is the goal).
It doesn’t have to be super-luxurious. It doesn’t have to be luxurious at all. Sure, I like luxury once in a while, but comfort is not the same in my book as luxury. A lot of times sleeping under the stars (as I’ve done more than once while traveling abroad) feels more luxurious to me than any five-star hotel, simply because of the comfort I feel lying in my sleeping bag on a foreign ground staring up at some familiar constellations. So I’d rather a place be bare and/or super funky than to have plastic-y, kitschy fixtures, furnishings and gimcracks, over-wrought accessories, or bad smells and lots of city noise. I’d like it to be locally owned, integral to its wider community, and maybe within a tightly knit socially conscious community. And I like it to be as eco-friendly as possible.
Tall order. So back in 2007, while planning a particular trip with a companion, I found myself searching like crazy for lodgings that would fit these criteria and that we’d both like. I had tons of different travel websites open, many of them supposedly “green” oriented. And virtually all of them were terrible — badly designed, lacking in genuinity and passion, not much in the way of selection. And lots of Hyatts, Hiltons, and Marriots claiming to be green.
Having had no experience with owning or building websites, and no experience in the travel industry, other than as a passionate traveler, I naively and excitedly believed I could do a much better job and so went about creating Travel Greenest. The mission was to connect conscientious travelers with the most people and planet friendly things to do and places to stay possible around the world, with an emphasis on small, local hosts. Away from mass tourism and the behemoth corporate hotels, cruise lines and tour operators.
I entered in the wild west of so-called web developers and marketers. I made a gazillion mistakes. I lost tons of my own money (and nobody else’s) on people who said they could build the website but couldn’t. I was forced to learn Photoshop so that I could mock up the most user-friendly pages possible for travel searches instead of driving any designer crazy trying to explain my visions and insights. But I kept working, building a sizable database of incredibly inspiring, super eco-friendly, community-based, socially conscious resorts, bnbs, retreat centers, vegan/vegetarian travel, treks and tours.
I also learned a lot about the travel industry, how toxic it is and how ripe for revolution, what economist David Korten calls the Great Turning toward the truly local and sustainable wealth, like just about every industry is ripe for now, as we appear to be veering closer every day towards unimaginable social, economic and environmental collapse.
As a small business owner myself for most of my adult life, I identify strongly with the notion of supporting local commerce