Animal Lover Vacations That Are Fun And Ethical

The Best Vacations You Can Have and the Unethical Traps to Avoid

Do you love all kinds of animals and also love to travel? Why not combine the two? There are so many unique destinations for animal lovers. You can meet new creatures, explore new landscapes, and take some great selfies. Keep in mind when you're traveling that you might love animals and want to cuddle them, but these are not domesticated creatures and their health and well-being is more important than your photo op. Remember, just because an animal isn't currently in distress does not mean they're being treated ethically.

We've compiled a list so that you can get the best of both worlds because not only are these animal destinations amazing, they also treat the animals ethically.

Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary

Sukhothai, Thailand

Boon Lott's is one of the only elephant sanctuaries that has a reputation for treating their elephants well. Elephant exploitation and mistreatment is rampant in Thailand and a lot of places have developed tourism industries around this abuse. Boon Lott's was started as a sanctuary for these abused animals and is a great place to reliably and ethically go and experience Thai elephants. You can get up close and personal with these animals without disrespecting their wild nature.

Pig Beach - Big Major Cay, Bahamas

White sandy beaches and… pigs? You bet! Big Major Cay is a small island in Caribbean chain of the Bahamas. Pig beach is not inhabited by humans so you're going to need a boat to get you out there. There are tour groups that will take you there for some swimming and a picnic to enjoy before you have to leave your new friends. It's truly a wild experience.

Rabbit Island - Ōkunoshima, Japan

Off the coast of Japan, there's a small island called Ōkunoshima, which houses hundreds of wild rabbits. These wild rabbits are unique because they aren't native to the island, which makes these carefree bunnies incredibly friendly because they have no known predators. However, they are a hazard to the ecosystem and tourists feeding them lead to a boom and bust bunny population. If you want to visit these rabbits, be sure to get some wild rabbit seed on the mainland for feeding time. You can help these rabbits survive by spreading the love to lots across the island and not just at the ferry dock.

Kangaroo Sanctuary - Alice Springs, Australia

Be there to bid good morning to these nocturnal kangaroos at sunset. The sanctuary's sunset tours let you interact with the kangaroos during feeding and playtime. The professionals are passionate about their work and take the kangaroos' needs seriously. They treat these rescued animals with care and respect, and make you feel comfortable and confident in your involvement. They do get booked up, so make sure you make a reservation far enough in advance!

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Yamanouchi-machi, Japan

Put on your winter jacket and head on up to the mountains to see the macaque monkey spa. Natural hot springs provide warmth and sweet relief for these lounging snow monkeys. Getting to this sanctuary requires a thirty minute hike up the mountains, but at the end you'll get a stunning view of the landscape and the monkeys.

On a more somber note...

Unfortunately, there are a lot of money-making ploys that exploit animals. You might think that the animal you're riding is safe and happy because they aren't in distress in that moment, but too many animals are abused and mistreated to break their spirit and shape them into domesticity. Here are some of the most common ones to avoid at all costs.

Tiger Selfies

You cannot domesticate a wild predator, especially a tiger, and it is incredibly dangerous for both the animal and tourists to get so close to each other. A lot of these animals are drugged, declawed, and abused to keep them docile enough for tourist photos.

Riding Elephants

Tourism elephants are kept in horrifying conditions, mostly in the popular animal tourism in Thailand. These animals are tortured into domestication and often collapse and die from exhaustion carrying heavy saddles and people. People who exploit elephants do not have their health and happiness in mind.

Touching Sea Turtles

Unsurprisingly, sea animals don't like to be taken out of the sea. The stress that is caused from people picking up sea turtles can only be described as abuse. It can only be described as incredibly cruel and arrogant to think that you're entitled to take such a peaceful creature out of its environment solely for your own amusement.

Snake Charming

How do you get a cobra to kiss you without biting your face off? Oh, you rip out its teeth! Seriously, most snakes you see in sideshows are defanged, or have had their poison glands or entire mouths sewed shut unsafely and in an unsanitary way. This can lead to infections and even death. The snakes are trained to only get food when they exit the basket, and the mouth sewed shut allows for the tongue to flick out for food but they can't survive this for long.

Dancing Monkeys

Monkeys are trained by harsh hands into dancing in little costumes for tourists. When they're not out on display, they're often crudely chained up in small cages. Oh and guys….these monkeys receive no medical attention so while you think it's cute to have one sitting on your shoulder for a photo op you are seriously risking disease.

If you really love these animals, then it is important to make sure the animals aren't being harmed for your benefit. There are plenty of people who will exploit animals for a dollar, even websites that help you find animal tourism locations. You don't want to be complicit in this. Do your research and background check before you visit. Here's a handy guide for making sure you aren't hurting any animals. If you do visit an animal tourism location, be sure to write a review about it online! Make sure you look out for signs of abuse and signs of good care and let other people know!

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Finally, we are done with 2020! Between all the highs and lows, it felt like 5 years packed into one, so I'm excited to start fresh in 2021. I'm taking my New Year's resolutions to the next level: cook more, read more, and get back to things I truly love like arts & crafts and morning runs (okay, most likely walks).

Honestly, I could go on forever about the new year, new me thing but actually getting started is my biggest hurdle. I realized that my motivation comes from my mood which directly relates to my environment … and for the past year, my house has been my habitat. So, it's not looking too great after all the wear and tear. The dirt and the mess have accumulated right under my nose.

It's not that I'm bad at it, I just feel so overwhelmed. When my house is clean, I feel much more in control and motivated, and right now it's far from it. When I was venting about my cleaning woes the other day, my friend recommended Handy.

Handy allows you to book local professional cleaners and sign up for monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly plans. Plus, you can schedule appointments at a time that works for you with availability 7 days a week from 7am-11pm. So to get me in the right headspace to tackle my goals, I'm going to be signing up for Handy. I'm looking forward to letting the experts take over.

Although having people in your home may sound a bit strange right now, Handy has rolled out the Handy Safety Standard to help promote the health and safety of the customers and professionals who use their platform. Some of these measures include requiring Pros to wear face coverings during bookings and mandatory daily in-app check-ups to verify they are in good health before claiming a booking. They even have a section on their site dedicated to keeping customers and professionals updated on the latest CDC health and safety guidance.

To top everything off, all of the Cleaning Pros booked through Handy are vetted and background checked. And you can even check out each Pro's ratings and reviews before you book.

Once my house is in order, the fresh feeling will have a domino effect on so many other areas of my life:

✔ Read More

Lying on my cozy couch without inhaling all the dust I'd chosen to ignore, despite my clear uptick in sneezing the last few months. My reading list is chock-full of thrillers and fantasy. And with my new clean slate, I've even added some books about organization.

✔ Get Cooking

Nothing makes cooking more enjoyable than a sparkling kitchen. I'm inspired by a clean space and all the new recipes I'll be whipping up in 2021 already have me drooling.

✔ More Exercise (aka walking!)

I won't feel guilty getting out for a walk on-the-daily when I know I'm not neglecting any household chores thanks to Handy. And when I come home I'm not greeted by any reminders to clean.

You can specify exactly what you want to be cleaned before your Pro arrives and if you like them, you can request to have the same Pro come every time. I can already imagine how exciting it will be to walk into my spotless space.

I cannot wait to book my cleaning through Handy so I can get my 2021 resolutions rolling. My New Year is all about my wellness and my environment plays such a big part in it. I'm signing up for bi-weekly appointments. But their plans are super flexible and if I need, I can always change to a weekly or monthly cleaning plan — sometimes they even have bookings available as soon as the next day!

With Handy, I'm leaving that rough 2020 in the dust and jumping into 2021 feeling fresh and ready-to-go.

Update: Handy is offering a limited time discount for our readers! Follow this link today to get a special offer on your first time cleaning plan.

This perfect low-key vacation is not your average camping experience.

Locations

Atlanta, Austin & San Antonio, Boston, Charlotte & Raleigh, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh & Cleveland, Portland, and Washington, DC.

Getaway's outposts are a maximum 2-hour drive from these major cities.

getaway cabin all seasons

Why Getaway?

It's an escape for the always on. Leave your work, technology and worries at home, and lean into an experience that allows you to reconnect and center yourself in nature.

Each cabin features 1 (or 2) queen-sized bed as well as a full indoor bathroom, both heat and a/c, and reliable electricity. The kitchen is stocked with food staples and cookware and there is a fire pit and outdoor seating. All cabins are family-friendly and dogs are permitted.

getaway essentials

Booking & Price

Book through the Getaway site. Cabins fit 1 - 4 guests and cost as low as $129 a night.

Safety

Cabins are already distanced (50-150' feet apart) from one another and go through a deep disinfection process between guest stays. Check-in is contactless, and each guest accesses their cabins through a personalized key code.

getaway activities

UPDATE: Plan Your Winter Escape Today With Getaway! Take $20 Off Your Stay With Code Winter20!

Given the nature of the pandemic, it can be tough to find the best ways to spend the usual festivities that New Year's Eve brings.

Luckily, if you're comfortable enough to step outside for the occasion, there are great places still open and worth visiting. Although you should always keep COVID-19 safety precautions in mind, here are three of the most stunning places to spend Near Year's Eve in the U.S.

New York City (New York)

No guide to stunning places to spend New Year's Eve in the U.S. would be complete without the presence of New York City, New York. The Times Square ball drop is a must-see annual event, though this year it will be a bit different due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the city will still be throwing an event for all to enjoy that will keep social distancing in mind and focus on bringing people together virtually.

While there might be live events for some to enjoy, none have been officially announced just yet. Even if you're enjoying the festivities virtually, there are few better places to spend this special occasion than at the tip of the NYC skyline.

New York City New Years Eve New York City New Years EveForbes

Lake Travis (Texas)

Lake Travis is a brilliant body of water in Texas that provides a versatile collection of ways to enjoy its beauty. If you'd prefer to keep your party secluded due to the pandemic, you can enjoy the evening on a boat in the waters of this lake, which is home to the famous "Devil's Cove" party destination.

If you're comfortable spending the evening in a venue that practices COVID-19 safety precautions, consider relaxing on one of the three decks on display at The Oasis. Even if you don't stick around to ring in the New Year, viewing the sunset from The Oasis is an incredible experience in itself.

Lake Travs Lake Travislaketravis.com

Cape Cod (Massachusetts)

If you're looking for a quainter way to ring in the new year, consider visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Aside from the cool weather and stunning scenery, when spending New Year's Eve in Cape Cod you can visit places such as the Belfry Inn & Bistro. This lovely location has a focus on good dining, stylish and comfortable living, and COVID-19 safety, all of which they put on display via their website.

If you'd prefer not to spend too much time in a restaurant or bar, you can indulge in the incredible appearance of areas like Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Simply wandering around the area and taking in the scenery before enjoying an intimate evening inside makes for an unforgettable adventure.

Cape Cod New Years Eve Cape Cod New Years Evebluegreenvacations.com

Due to the ever-changing nature of certain venues during the pandemic, be sure to regularly check-up on any venues you wish to visit. That way, you can remain in the loop on their availability, activities, and safety precautions upon arrival.