Whether you're new to sustainable travel or want to learn more about Yugen Earthside, our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page is here to help. If you don't find what you're looking for, Contact Us and we'll be glad to assist.

What does 'Yugen' mean?

Yugen is a Japanese word meaning “an awareness of the universe that triggers an emotional response that is too deep and powerful for words.”

We love this word because it captures the feeling of being so awestruck by our planet's beauty that we can't help but want to take care of it.

What does 'sustainable travel' mean?

Traveling sustainably is about respecting three basic pillars:

  1. Preserving the natural environment and causing no harm to animals and wildlife
  2. Promoting the local economy
  3. Supporting the societies and authentic cultures at destinations

Check out our in-depth blog post on Sustainable Travel 101.

How do I book a trip on Yugen Earthside?

From a trip listing page:

  1. Inquire Now: All trip listings have an "Inquire Now" button. Fill in your name, email, and your message. In your message, include your group size, your preferred departure date, and any other relevant details about your trip. We'll respond within one business day. When you're ready to pay the deposit, we'll send you a personalized and secure payment link.
  2. Book Now: Some trip listings have a "Book Now" button. Click this to choose your departure date and securely pay your deposit.

You may also schedule a free 30-minute video consultation with us at any point. We'll collect all the details about your trip, discuss options, and answer questions. When you decide on a trip, we'll send you a personalized and secure payment link.

Why should I book a trip on Yugen Earthside?

  1. Rest assured that your trip is responsible. Each trip listing explains, in layman's terms, what makes it sustainable. You can feel great about your experience, without stressing about its impact!
  2. Benefit from automatic carbon removals. Yugen Earthside is raising the bar in the tourism industry by contributing $10 per guest toward carbon removals through Tomorrow's Air.
  3. Support the opposite of mass tourism. Most of our partners are boutique, locally-owned companies... like the "mom & pop of travel companies." This means that the majority of your trip fee directly supports the local economy of your destination.
  4. Easily add-on carbon offsets. During check-out, you can seamlessly add carbon offsets directly to your trip thanks to our integration with Sustainable Travel International. Read more about carbon offsets and removals here.
  5. Make an impact. Yugen Earthside donates at least 1% of Gross Profit to Impact Projects that support sustainable tourism development projects in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  6. Enjoy top-notch customer service. If you have a question or a concern, our highly responsive team of humans will get back to you quickly. No chat-bots or AI here.

Are flights to destinations covered in the trip price?

No, flights (or other modes of transportation) to arrive at your trip's starting point are not covered in the trip price, unless specifically mentioned.

On each trip listing page, you can see the complete list of inclusions and exclusions covered by the trip price.

Does Yugen Earthside include carbon removals?

Yes! We acknowledge that flights are inherently not sustainable. To help mitigate the impact, we are proud to be raising the bar in the tourism industry by automatically contributing $10 per guest toward carbon removals through Tomorrow's Air. Carbon removals are significantly more effective than carbon offsets. Read more about the difference between the two here.

Does Yugen Earthside include carbon offsets?

No, we do not include carbon offsets for our trips. Instead, we automatically contribute $10 per guest toward carbon removals through Tomorrow's Air. Carbon removals are significantly more effective than carbon offsets. Read more about the difference between the two here.

Carbon offsets are still a good thing to do! We strongly encourage our travelers to add carbon offsets directly to their trips at checkout. We have a seamless integration with Sustainable Travel International to facilitate this.

Sometimes, our local partners also include carbon offsets or carbon removals in the trip price. If this is the case, it will be indicated in the trip listing's Sustainability section.

What makes Yugen Earthside a sustainable company?

Here is what makes Yugen Earthside a sustainable company:

  • We are a registered Social Purpose Corporation in Washington State, USA. This legal registration means that sustainability is in our DNA, and allows us to pursue social and environmental objectives in addition to financial profitability.
  • We are certified net-zero by Ecolytics. We achieve net-zero through carbon removals and carbon offsets. Learn more here.
  • We donate over 1% of our annual Gross Profits to Impact Projects that support sustainable tourism development.
  • We automatically contribute $10 per guest toward carbon removals through Tomorrow's Air.
  • We exclusively work with carefully vetted partners that share our values for sustainable tourism.

How does Yugen Earthside vet its partners?

Our proprietary screening process includes a 3-part application form, a 1-hour video interview, and an online audit of a potential partner. If a potential partner passes our high bar and proves they are genuinely and transparently committed to sustainable travel, we invite them to join our platform.

We recognize that being "sustainable" means different things based on the destination and activity. For example, a trekking trip in Nepal, a safari trip in Kenya, and a cultural trip in Ecuador will likely implement different sustainability practices.

The main sustainability areas we consider are:

  1. General, i.e. "Do you have a sustainable travel policy listed on your website?"
  2. Economic, i.e. "Do you support locally-owned businesses?"
  3. Social, i.e. "Do you offer opportunities to stay with locals?"
  4. Environmental, which we break down further into: A) the Natural Environment, B) Climate Change, C) Waste Management, and D) Accommodations.

Are Yugen Earthside's partners certified?

Sometimes. If they are, that's great! This will be clearly indicated in the trip listing's Sustainability section. However, we don't require our partners to be certified. Certifications are complicated for myriad reasons; here are a few:

  1. There are a lot of certification programs out there, and a general lack of standardization, making it complicated to choose which certification to go for.
  2. Certifications are hard for travelers to recognize and easily understand. Even if partners have a certification, it's not guaranteed travelers will appreciate what it truly represents.
  3. Certifications are time-consuming and expensive to earn, making it impractical for many of our "mom & pop travel companies" to achieve.

As a result, we prefer describing to travelers, in layman's terms, what makes each trip sustainable.

How can travelers trust that Yugen Earthside's trips are sustainable?

We strive to be as transparent as possible by clearly listing our partners' sustainability efforts on every single trip.

Part of operating transparently also means striving for continuous improvement and actively seeking constructive feedback. After every trip, we send a survey to our travelers. Here, we ask for 'grassroots' feedback about the sustainability of the trip.

This model creates a loop: our travelers tell us what makes their trip sustainable, we communicate that to travelers, and our travelers report back if anything seems to miss the mark. We view this loop as an integral and critical part of promoting a better overall understanding and awareness of sustainable travel.

How can you tell if a company is greenwashing?

Transparency is key!

We know that greenwashing -- falsely leveraging the concepts of sustainability for profit -- is a problem. We believe openness and communication are the best tools to determine authenticity.

Companies acting sustainably should want to market it, and should not mind answering questions about what actions they take (or not).

Regarding certifications:

  1. Just because a company is certified doesn't mean you can't questions about their practices - you should, and they should be happy to answer.
  2. Just because a company isn't certified doesn't mean they aren't taking great actions towards sustainability. You can always ask what a company is doing for sustainability, even if they're not certified.
  3. Certifications have validity periods, and companies could keep a certification logo up in their marketing even after it expires. This is really difficult to spot, but you can always ask a certified company when they were certified and if the award is still valid.

In sum: Companies should be clear and transparent about their efforts, and happy to answer questions about what they're doing (or not doing)!

What's the difference between 'sustainable tourism,' 'responsible tourism,' & 'ecotourism'?

They all sound quite similar, don't they? We know.

Here are the official definitions.

  • Sustainable Tourism is "tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities" (as defined by the United Nations World Tourism Organization).
  • Responsible Tourism is tourism that creates "better places for people to live in and for people to visit” (as defined by the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism).
  • Ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (as defined by The International Ecotourism Society).

We use "sustainable tourism" and "responsible tourism" interchangeably to indicate travel that respects the three pillars (environment, economy, and societies & culture) and ultimately works to leave places better than they were found.

Where can I learn more about sustainable travel?

We have a Sustainable Travel Resources page and Blog filled with more information about sustainable travel. If you don't see what you're looking ask us!

Can travel truly be sustainable?

It's complicated.

Some people will say that travel can never be sustainable and that "sustainable travel" is an oxymoron. We hear that.

Our perspective is two-fold:

  1. Humans are curious by nature. The likelihood of people not traveling is extremely low.
  2. Wherever you go, whatever you do, there are more and less responsible ways of experiencing destinations.

We want to help travelers experience what they are already dreaming of in the most responsible way possible.

What happens if something goes wrong?

We strongly urge all travelers to purchase travel insurance.

Be sure you're clear on cancellation or refund policies prior to booking your trip.

Why aren't there trips in... ?

We know our destinations are limited at the moment. We're working hard to find more sustainable tour operators and list their trips on our site. You can help us speed this process up in two ways:

  1. Tell us where YOU want to go and we'll focus our efforts there.
  2. Tell us if you have a sustainable trip operator in mind and we'll prioritize screening them for our platform.

For both of the above, let us know via our Contact Us form.

Can I suggest a sustainable tour operator?

Yes, please! If you had a great experience with a responsible company and you think their trips would fit well on our platform, let us know via our Contact Us form.