Unless you live under a lump of coal, you’ve likely heard that airplanes, cars and over-tourism are wreaking havoc on Mother Earth. You’ve probably also stumbled over terms like global warming, single-use plastics and carbon footprint. To be fair, it’s a lot to wrangle when you just want to plan a memorable and planet-friendly family vacation, and you’re not alone.
According to a recent American Express global trend report, which surveyed respondents from Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States, sustainable travel and the environment are among the top priorities for consumers in 2024 and beyond.
With concerns around climate change and the environment escalating, companies and consumers are coming clean about their part in the problem and their role in the solution. For Ciao Bambino, one answer is Travel for Good, a social impact and sustainability charitable giving program. Thanks to trips planned with Ciao Bambino’s Family Travel Advisor team, money is donated regularly to vetted non-profit organizations whose work helps offset the carbon footprint caused by travel while supporting communities and ecosystems around the world.
“We have a business that encourages and inspires families to travel the world,” says Ciao Bambino’s founder and CEO, Amie O’Shaughnessy. “We are also aware of travel’s impact on the planet and want to protect it. That’s why we are putting our money where our mouth is.”
Our agency donates quarterly to vetted nonprofit organizations whose work helps communities and ecosystems around the world. Click to find out more and start the planning process with a member of our Family Travel Advisor team.
So, what is a carbon footprint? Simply, it is the total amount of greenhouse gasses produced day to day by individuals and companies, products and services, and events such plane trips. It’s estimated that air travel releases about 53.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile flown, according to BlueSky, a model produced by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The more energy we use, the bigger our footprint.
On the flip side, carbon offsets are monetary buy-ins that compensate for our carbon footprint. These contributions fund organizations and programs that, in theory, make equivalent reductions of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere through activities like restoring or conserving large swaths of forest, and planting trees.
Ciao Bambino has seen tangible and measurable results from the Travel for Good program. Donated funds have contributed to reforesting ravaged land, safeguarding biodiversity, improving literacy at home and abroad, supporting food-insecure families and fighting for social equality, among other noble causes.
One Tree Planted is one of the beneficiaries, and their mission is planting trees and restoring ecosystems as well as saving forests from being cleared in the first place while protecting habitats and local communities.
According to stats on One Tree Planted’s website, the average tree absorbs an average of 22 pounds of carbon dioxide per year for the first 20 years. Louis Lagoutte, the organization’s fundraising director in Europe, says Ciao Bambino’s contributions to date have resulted in the planting of more than 19,500 trees in Montana, California and British Columbia, which directly supported forest fire recovery; and in Peru, Brazil and Indonesia, where pristine tropical rainforests are on the frontline of habitat loss.
“The support from Ciao Bambino has been twofold,” says Louis. “One is the direct planting of trees all over the world and the funding of this critical restoration work. The other is bringing people to these beautiful places that need conserving.”
Louis is no stranger to travel’s positive effect on children and families, and he learned at a young age that it can spur action and impact, including his own eco-conscious lifestyle. Though he grew up in French Alps and was educated in the United Kingdom, his parents took him out of school for a year when he was 10 to travel the world. Between the ages of 16 and 18, Louis also attended boarding school in New Mexico, a time that left a lasting impression.
“We were on the edge of the wilderness, and I had a teacher who would take us out for environmental science and made us much more aware of all the richness of nature around us,” says Louis. “That is a place that had a bad wildfire a few years ago, and I do worry about it.”
Other organizations that have directly benefited from Ciao Bambino’s Travel for Good program include Feeding America, the country’s largest hunger relief organization. Trips planned with Ciao Bambino have helped feed more than 30,000 food-insecure families.
Books for Africa provides educational supplies to children throughout the continent, and trips planned with Ciao Bambino have contributed more than 6,400 books.
Meanwhile, Direct Relief provides humanitarian relief to the world’s most vulnerable people, and trips planned with Ciao Bambino provided emergency medical backpacks to first responders that treated approximately 1,400 people in Ukraine.
As global tourism and environmental crises face off at a watershed moment in history, action has become a rallying cry. But just declaring you care is not enough to push the needle away from total climate breakdown. Tourism and conservation must go hand in hand. Pressuring governments and companies to innovate, donate, create protected areas and protect what is already there are things consumers can stand behind while also making smart choices about how, when and with whom they book their travel.
“All companies have a responsibility to reduce their impacts, travel companies amongst them,” said Louis. “But personally, I think taking fewer but more meaningful trips would be progress.”
While there is no substitute for an in-person travel experience, and Ciao Bambino is in the business of planning those trips, the company has always been about promoting purpose-driven travel.
“Since 2004, we have encouraged families to seek a deeper connection to the places and people they visit,” says Amie. “Our Travel for Good program is an extension of that. Clients know that when they book with us their dollars will have a positive impact on our global community and that travel for good is more than just words — it’s our commitment.”
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