You want to make a trip booking and find the best accommodation. But first, you want to stay in an eco-friendly vacation rental with ethical practices. However, if that’s not easy to come by, you may be left disappointed.
More and more people are becoming more conscious about protecting and preserving the planet by opting to make sustainable travel choices. More travelers want to impact the planet positively through their travel purchasing decisions. According to a Booking.com Report, 70% of travelers prefer eco-friendly accommodation.
Luckily, the short-term vacation rental industry has numerous alternatives with different principles and practices that you can consider. This helpful guide highlights some eco-friendly booking sites that focus on environmental friendliness and a soft impact on the planet. Read on!
Why Look for Airbnb Alternatives?
For a long time, Airbnb has gained a significant presence in the travel industry as the go-to vacation rental service. Despite its popularity, the company has come under fire in recent years over the numerous negative impacts of its service on local communities. There has also been legitimate concern about racist practices among a large number of hosts prompting travelers to share their experiences of discrimination using the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack. There are similar issues shared by travelers with disabilities.
The Airbnb model has proven to contribute to driving up the prices of leases, and real estate prices, for local people. As a result, many cities around the world have set limits, regulations, and even banned Airbnb rentals where this is a problem. As a user, you may not know if the listing you're considering is legal in that municipality or not. There are stories around the world of communities and neighbors having problems with steady streams of travelers in homes and apartments in their otherwise residential, neighborhoods.
The questionable fallout from using Airbnb has prompted many travelers to look for alternatives that are more ethical and have a more positive impact on the communities they travel to.
Best Airbnb Alternatives for Sustainable Travel
Whether you are looking for a home to stay in during a short vacation, family trip, or travel expedition, there are numerous options that provide unique travel experiences. Here are some excellent alternatives to Airbnb for sustainable travel:
Fairbnb offers a great opportunity for hosts and guests to connect meaningfully with minimal cost. It provides a great alternative to Airbnb as it addresses the challenges of community fragmentation by pushing a shared economy model.
This vacation rental service focuses on keeping profit within the local community. It allows community members to collectively decide how the platform is managed in their neighborhood. Besides, it reinvests profits in social projects that aim to counter the adverse effects of tourism. These projects include:
- Green parks
- Food coops
- Community cafes
Fairbnb allows locals to offer various facilities such as houses, apartments, rooms, locally-owned hotels, farmhouses, and even campsites. The platform has strict sustainability rules that locals have to agree with. For instance, in some cities, a host must be a local resident and cannot have more than 1 secondary house on the market each year. This maximizes positive economic activity and ensures fairness to all locals.
Finally, Fairbnb does not charge hosts fees or commissions. Instead, it charges guests and allows them to choose a local-based social project to donate 50% of the platform’s fee.
Biostays.com is another excellent alternative to Airbnb. Biostays hopes their vacation rental service will usher travelers into a “world of epic eco-travel. It handpicks all facilities listed on the website. A hotel, home, room, or house has to meet a certain threshold that guarantees it’s an eco-friendly option. For instance, any rental facility listed on Biostays must have green lighting, organic means of waste disposal, eco-friendly heating, and much more.
Also, most of the Biostays’ facilities are in unspoiled locations away from the bustling over visited towns and cities. It could be in the rolling golden Spanish hills, near the stunning Swiss Alps, or tucked in the jaw-dropping scenery of Patagonia.
The main goal of Biostays is to protect biodiversity and the natural world while adventuring and exploring its wonders.
Most of Biostay’s sustainability efforts are directed towards protecting rainforests from deforestation. This way, it can save endangered species from extinction, save water sources from human destruction, and offset carbon emissions. To make this possible, BioStays has partnered with Rainforest Trust, an organization at the forefront of protecting natural forests. This has enabled Biostays to protect over 700 acres of trees and remove over 73,000 tons of greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.
Founded in the Netherlands, I Like Local is an ethical booking site specializing in uplifting local communities by promoting social initiatives. This platform intends to provide travelers with positive, minimal impact stays while providing direct income to locals in Africa and Asia.
I Like Local maintains that all travel companies and organizations have to change from profit-oriented entities to ethical enterprises that maintain a proper balance between economic activity and social-environmental value creation. It helps travelers identify and book stays in facilities that create a direct impact on the local population. Also, it promotes cultural understanding and communication by using local travel guides who bond well with the locals.
Besides, I Like Local also provides ethical group tours to your favorite travel destinations. With this platform, you can tour some of the world’s best destinations sustainably, learn about different cultures, and enjoy sightseeing. All these experiences make I Like Local a handy alternative to Airbnb.
If you want to live like a local and with the locals, Homestay is a handy alternative to Airbnb. This low-cost platform provides access to homes and houses within local vicinities where you can easily connect with local communities.
Homestay is one of the best alternatives if you want to connect with the locals. Its primary focus is to provide a unique, enriching experience regardless of where you are traveling. This model gives travelers an authentic taste of local life, connecting you with locals who offer insights about the destinations, transport options, dishes, etc. With Homestays, hosts rent out their free spaces at affordable spaces.
Because of the interaction involved, Homestay picks its stays carefully. It has to vet facility owners and local authorities and establish whether the facility is hospitable and ensure travelers can be safe.
Ecobnb is an excellent alternative to Airbnb when it comes to finding sustainable accommodation. It helps you access green hotels, unique houses, and organic farmhouses where you can stay ethically. The platform supports responsible tourism with minimal environmental impact.
Ecobnb has created a tourism model that’s friendly to nature, local communities, and the economy. This platform has sustainability criteria that hosts should meet. This includes:
- Energy-saving lights
- Ecological cleaning products
- Solar panels and water heaters
- Water flow reducers
- Organic/local food
- Car-free accessibility
- Water reuse and rainwater recovery
- Waste recycling
All the above eco-friendly activities aim to make the world greener through sustainable tourism.
Ever fancied the idea of swapping a home with someone else? Home Exchange is different from the common booking platforms in that you can stay in someone’s home while they occupy yours for an agreed period. This model contributes to a great travel experience and ensures you can enjoy a vacation in a locality not overrun with vacation rentals.
Picking a stay with Home Exchange allows you to blend with locals, shop with them, and possibly get to know your temporary neighbors. With an annual membership, you can exchange homes as much as you would like as long as the dates are flexible.
Hipcamp is a simple booking site that works pretty well for outdoor enthusiasts. Through Hipcamp, you can quickly discover cabins, treehouses, RV parks, and tent camping in the US, Australia, and Canada. It connects landowners with responsible travelers and, in the process, raises funds for land conservation. Ideally, it works with locals who protect the land and bring the best out of nature.
Founded in Finland by the leading producer of renewable diesel, Neste, Zerobnb focuses entirely on sustainable vacation homes.
Zerobnb collects sustainable homes from Airbnb and features them on its website. All homes listed on Zerobnb feature zero emissions and zero waste. Zerobnb claims it is only temporary, and will pull down the site once Airbnb creates a sustainable model or at least adds a new sustainable category.
If you want to be part of an ecotourism initiative in Australia, Green Getaways is perhaps one of the best Airbnb alternatives. This vacation rental service has a wide variety of accommodation facilities that support sustainability.
Green Getaways is ideal if you are looking for Luxury cottages, tiny houses, treehouse accommodation, eco-resorts and lodges, and glamping. When making an inquiry or booking, the website displays the eco-friendly initiatives that the facility has taken. Ideally, it aims to encourage and promote sustainable environmental practices. Through this service you can enjoy unique stays in beautiful, untouched ecosystems and interact with diverse communities.
Bookdifferent.com is a budget-friendly and sustainable alternative to Airbnb. It lists handpicked hotels that support sustainable initiatives. This Airbnb alternative checks accommodation facilities for effective waste management, local staffing and fair treatment of employees, culture-friendliness, and eco-friendly initiatives.
For an accommodation facility to be featured on Bookdifferent.com, it must be certified by Ecolabels, Biosphere Tourism, or Actively Green as eco-friendly and sustainable. Also, it should have a low carbon footprint or involve itself in offsetting.
Holiable locates and lists homes, restaurants, and activities that focus on sustainable efforts. This platform is committed to protecting the planet through sustainable tourism. It is a member of the 1% For The Planet, meaning it pledges 1% of the annual sales to support environmental protection initiatives.
Each facility is evaluated for sustainable practices and has to meet specific standards such as:
- Organically grown food
- Local staff
- Renewable energy
- Chemical-free pools
- Solar lighting
- Vegan options
- Composite waste disposal for organic waste
- Use of reusable products like water bottles
This platform has a stylish and user-friendly website that allows you to easily choose whether you want to dine, sleep, or just have fun.
Green Pearls is at the forefront of providing green hotels globally. It chooses its members based on green projects and sustainable initiatives. All members have to meet at least 80% of the platform requirements. These requirements include waste management, proper energy, and water consumption, flora and fauna protection, and more.
As a sustainable platform, Green Pearls emphasizes creating a balance that improves both the environment and local culture. It considers health and environmental safety and has implemented long-term sustainability management systems to meet its goals.
Coral Road connects travelers who want to make a positive impact with sustainable travel providers. This platform aims to make sustainable travel the new norm by following a sustainable approach.
To ensure it partners with sustainable providers only, Coral Road vets each facility for ethical practices. It checks sustainable initiatives such as solar power, water usage, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, organic foods, and more. Each facility must have at least one sustainability-related certification from an approved body.
How to Find Sustainable Airbnb Alternatives to Stay
There's no doubt that we need alternatives to Airbnb. It’s imperative to consider eco-friendly vacation rentals that promote sustainable tourism and environmentally friendly initiatives. However, this is not easy to come by, as greenwashing has become prevalent.
Greenwashing is the act of conveying a false or misleading impression that a specific organization is eco-friendly while it’s not. Some travel enterprises have embarked on a mission to deceive that they are environmentally friendly while they are from it.
Here are few ways to ensure any Airbnb alternative you choose is sustainable:
Check its Eco-Credentials
Any Airbnb alternative you choose should be certified by independent parties. It should have performance-based certifications indicating that it has met certain sustainability requirements. Some of the top eco-label to check include:
- Green Globe
- Green Key
- Climate KIC
- Certified Green Restaurant
Top Airbnb alternatives such as Fairbnb.coop, I Like Local, and Biostays have been certified by independent entities such as B Corp as fully sustainable. They connect conscious travelers with well-vetted hosts, promoting sustainable tourism.
Check Against the Sustainability Checklist
Before choosing an accommodation facility, it’s best to check it against a sustainability checklist. Some of the top sustainable activities include:
- Plant-based meals
- Green/Renewable energy
- Wildlife conservation initiatives
- Plastic-free materials
- Carbon neutral initiatives, i.e., offsetting
- Locally owned and staffed
- Car-free initiatives
You can contact the facility directly to inquire about these practices.
The Bottom Line
Every travel expedition should be a great opportunity to make a positive impact. This is possible through choosing sustainable accommodation facilities that are not only gentle on the planet but help preserve it as well. These Airbnb alternatives have thousands of interesting listings that are budget-friendly, vacation-suited, and eco-friendly. Through sustainable bookings, you will promote ecotourism, support local communities, and make a positive impact on nature!
Disclaimer: Hey reader! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase using any of these links, we'll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Hidden Lemur is committed to promoting sustainable travel, and we only partner with brands that we believe contribute positively to that cause.