8 hostel getaways for the environmentally conscious traveller

April 23, 2024

If you’re like us, travel is never just about ticking the boxes, seeing the sights, and satisfying personal needs. Conscious travel is about exploring the world in a way that minimizes harm and amplifies respect and appreciation. For local cultures and our earth. Protecting the environment and minimizing the damage we inflict upon it has never been more relevant as the earth heats up and we face natural disasters worldwide as a result. Evaluating our commitments to green travel is no doubt an important theme for ethical tourists and outdoorsy adventures alike. That’s why we’re taking a look at some sustainable hostels in various parts of the world.

These accommodations not only prioritize environmental consciousness but also offer unique experiences for travellers who want to roam the world without destroying it. From staying in a revamped lighthouse to glamping in the woods, to immersing yourself in Iceland's natural beauty, these hostel experiences combine sustainability with unforgettable travel moments. Discover how these hostels are redefining eco-conscious travel while providing opportunities to connect with nature.

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HI Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, California, USA

What could be cooler than booking a beachy coastal stay inside a revamped lighthouse? That’s what HI Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel is. For backpackers who seek accommodations that do their part to protect our beautiful planet, this is it. The California lighthouse hostel has come up with a method to reuse waste water from doing laundry to watering the surrounding landscape, gardens and hostel grounds. They reuse about 640 bathtubs of water each year to water an area often parched by the area’s droughts. Additional environmental efforts by this beachy hostel include composting all organic material, collecting rainwater in barrels, using renewable energy, and recycling/composting 79% of their waste. No wonder they’ve been named one of the most sustainable hostels in the U.S….

YHA Pittwater Eco, Sydney, Australia

This Australian eco hostel is perfect for the traveller who is enthusiastic about being at one with nature, spending time in rustic settings and keeping eyes peeled for animals in their natural habitats. (Many species of birds, wallabies, possums and goannas call this area home.) To save on water, this establishment asks you to bring your own linens. During a stay here, plan to participate in bush walks, see the nearby Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (where you can also volunteer towards a bush regeneration program through the hostel), or participate in carbon-neutral activities like kayaking, cycling, or hiking. YHA Pittwater has a number of efforts to reduce environmental harm. These include water-saving practices, collecting and using rainwater, recycling, composting, limitations on lights, solar hot water systems, and a solar design to reduce the need for heating and cooling systems. In other words, you can rest assured that this space aligns with your environmentally-friendly values as a traveller.

HI Athabasca Falls Wilderness Hostel, Jasper, Canada

Jasper is one of the most coveted regions in Canada for environmentally-conscious travellers and outdoorsy folks looking for their great Canadian adventure. HI Canada’s wilderness hostels are a series of rustic accommodations scattered around Western Canada where you can really connect with the landscape and do so guilt-free. The only footprints you’ll be leaving here are the ones along dusty mountain hiking trails. HI Athabasca Wilderness Hostel in particular makes the cut thanks to its use of fresh mountain well water, solar panels, and lack of water waste. Here, cycling, hiking, and cross-country skiing are in. Wasting Mother Nature’s resources is out!

Dalur HI Hostel, Reykjavík, Iceland

Located in Reykjavík, Dalur HI Hostel holds the SWAN (the Nordic sustainability eco-label) certification. This hostel will carbon offset your stay and travellers looking to explore the world without harming it will appreciate the electric car chargers, bike parking, and locally-sourced coffee. And, it’s conveniently located right next door to the Laugardalslaug pools with its geothermal hot tubs. When in Iceland…

Stayokay Hostels, Netherlands

The Netherlands is home to an incredible network of HI hostels which have a really outside-the-box approach to environmental tourism. Their adorable wikkelhouses located in Achterhoek, Apeldoorn, and National Park De Biesbosch, are made of recycled cardboard. Sustainable, adorable, and located in the Dutch woods, these cozy cabins are ideal for nature lovers and environmentalist travellers. The Stayokay network also has a number of commitments to our earth. They strive to be totally climate neutral by 2050 and by 2030, they expect to be on track to reduce residual and food waste by 50%. And of course, so much about being environmentally conscious is about saving energy and reducing the burden on natural resources. This Dutch brand uses LED lighting, solar panels, energy-efficient equipment and between 2018 and 2022, they managed to reduce their carbon footprint by 40%.

YHA Eskdale, Lake District, England

England’s Lake District is like a fairytale setting known for its stunning landscapes, including mountains, lakes, and lush valleys. What makes it especially appealing to green or outdoors-oriented travellers is that the area is perfect for activities like hiking and cycling, or sourcing food from nearby organic farms. As for YHA Eskdale specifically, expect a hostel near a wooded wilderness area, peaks to climb, a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint, solar panels, and a space powered by renewable energy. If you’re really looking to connect with nature, opt to glamp in one of the Lord of the Rings-esque landpods which have LED lighting and are set in the middle of the woods. Perfect for stargazing on a summer night!

HI Rampart Creek Wilderness Hostel, Banff, Canada

With wild, untamed wilderness, solar-powered lights and reduced water & electricity consumption, HI Rampart Creek Wilderness Hostel is about as green as it gets. This is the kind of off-grid getaway that a no frills green traveller will love. This is a vacation where you can feel at ease knowing that your away-from-home adventure isn’t costing the environment. This is the kind of place where you can exercise environmental gratitude by really immersing yourself in nature. Hike, climb, stargaze, warm up in the wood-burning sauna, or take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the pure Canadian wilderness. Seriously, there are so few places like this left where you can really be disconnected and immersed in natural beauty.

Fljotsdalur HI Hostel, Iceland

Located in Iceland near the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, and at the end of the Laugavegur hiking trail, the Fljotsdalur hostel is an outdoor lover’s paradise. This is the kind of place where after exploring the outdoors all day, you can unwind and appreciate being immersed in nature. No wif-fi, just stargazing, quiet moments in the garden, and appreciating views of the glacier-capped peaks in the distance. One neat little quirk about this cottagey escape: its roof is covered with turf. Hey, maximize green space where you can!

This article is part of the
Issue 7

Travel Conscious

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