Categories: Bicycle Advocacy
Tour Sustainability and Performance Planby ExperiencePlus! - Friday, August 27, 2010
ExperiencePlus! strives to consider the environmental and social impact of what we do. Travel is a powerful tool to connect people to new cultures and environments, however if folks are not responsible travelers, we know it can also negatively impact the places we visit. While we must acknowledge travel’s inherent impact on the environment and communities, our company strives to integrate sustainable practices whenever it’s possible.
Our sustainability statement for our tours is as follows:
At ExperiencePlus! we strive to provide travel experiences that increase cultural engagement and support local economies while minimizing the miles traveled in vehicles and maximizing the miles traveled by bicycle.
We have utilized Sustainable Travel International’s categories to outline our policies on our bicycle tours.
- Traveling by bicycle saves green house gas emissions. For example, on our trip from Venice to Florence, we have on average of 10 – 14 people traveling 220 miles by bicycle.
- Minimal shuttling required on tour. 95% of our routes are designed without group shuttles or transfers required, so we are able to use one 9-passenger van for trips of 18, plus 3 tour leaders.
- While designing itineraries we prioritize staying in family-run hotels that are located in the center of town so that all attractions are within walking distance.
- We focus on local foods. We purchase snacks and picnic supplies that are in-season and minimally packaged.
- We avoid all single-use cutlery and plastic for picnic lunches.
- Our customer gift options include t-shirts made from organically grown cotton/sustainable textile blends and the option to donate to Bicycles for Humanity.
- We purchase BioBased water bottles for our customers. These water bottles are re-usable and recyclable not to mention the production of our BioBased water bottles produces considerably less CO2 than standard plastic water bottles. Additionally we ask that our travelers requiring two water bottles bring their own water bottle to reduce waste from unwanted second water bottles.
- We seek to create as much interaction between locals and our customers by providing an interactive means of transportation (a bicycle!) and by hiring local tour leaders, stopping at farms, visiting artisan workshops and staying in locally owned and operated hotels.
- We encourage customers to stop at local bakeries, cafés and restaurants for lunch. Basic language lessons on tour means our travelers can order their own lunch and get a gelato the size and flavor they prefer. These simple interactions are some of the most enjoyable our customers have on tour.
- We mark our daily bicycling routes with chalk dust arrows that give customers confidence that they know where they are going so they can keep their focus on the environment and people around them.
- We work with local guides and/or touring companies when we lack insider’s knowledge of an area to develop the best cycling itineraries possible.
- We try to avoid chains, be it hotels or restaurants. We feel that family-run is best and locally owned is the icing on the cake.
Innovative Best Practices
- We began a program called the cycling hat “cambio” on all our European tours. This started when a customer in the early 1990s brought caps for everyone on tour and asked them to trade it with a local for something of equal or lesser value. The stories and encounters that happened were priceless so we created our own cycling caps and have given them to our customers on trips in Europe to exchange ever since. A few examples of great trades are wine, a shirt, pictures, pasta and even cycling jerseys.
At ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours we believe that the very nature of our business promotes sustainable tourism and sustainable practices that act positively on the environment and participants’ health. And so the small things we do in our offices complement our business of helping people travel by bicycle around the world!