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Be confident that sustainability and responsible tourism are at the heart of your Vagabond or Driftwood small group tour of Ireland.

Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland Sustainability Mission

We like to think of sustainable tourism as a journey. Lots done. Even more to do!

What is Responsible Tourism?

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“Tourism that takes full account of its current and future environmental, social and economic impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and communities” - The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)

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Our Goals

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🌳 Plant 3,000 native Irish trees in 2020 to offset emissions

🦌 Respect Irish nature, wildlife and landscapes via Leave No Trace

💚 Partner with local communities for sustainable tourism

♻️ Save water, avoid printing and recycle waste at VagaHQ

Our Achievements

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🌞 Solar power and EV charging point at VagaHQ

🍃 Carbon neutral since 2016 via native tree-planting programme

☕ Compostable coffee cups and reusable water bottles for all guests

🏆 National environmental awards in 2018 and 2019


We Plant A Native Irish Tree For Each Guest

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We're upping our tree-planting game to sow 3,000 native Irish tree seeds - that's at least one for every passenger in 2021!

We've always been passionate about carbon off-setting using native Irish tree species. This approach promotes biodiversity and helps foster better habitats for insects, birds and mammals.


We're Proud Of Our Green Awards!

Irish Tourism Industry Awards Winner badge

Our efforts towards Responsible Tourism were awarded Best Environmental Tourism Initiative at the 2019 Irish Tourism Industry Awards

Winner badge for the Irish Green Awards 2018

We were delighted to be awarded the Green Tourism & Entertainment Award at the Green Awards 2018

Pure Mile Clean up the Uplands Award for Vagabond Tours 2018

Pure Mile awarded us the 2018 Clean Up The Uplands Award for restoring our stretch of local roadside to its former glory.

Green Awards 2019 Finalist for Vagabond Tours

We were delighted to be finalists in two categories at the 2019 Green Awards: 'Tourism & Entertainment' and 'Best Small Organisation'

Sustainability In All We Do

Tree Planting

In 2021, we are planting 3,000 native trees around Ireland in partnership with Trees on the Land.

This represents a tree planted for every guest who travelled with us last year.

Using native Irish tree species promotes biodiversity and helps foster more effective natural habitats for insects, birds and mammals.

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Local Ethos

Local is better. Local is more authentic. Local is more sustainable.

On average, our small-group tours spend 9 days and 8 nights in rural Ireland. Because we give preference to locally-owned providers, the bulk of our customer spend is retained in the local economy.

This off the beaten track approach avoids overtourism. It's more rewarding for guests. And it delivers real economic benefits for lesser explored corners of Ireland.

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Green Team

Our Green Team lead sustainable tourism efforts within Vagabond Tours.

Ciara (from Sales & Reservations) and Darran (from Product Development) are the superstars leading our Green Team.

Recent wins include the installation of solar panels, an EV charging point and LED lighting at VagaHQ.

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Saving Water

We estimate that we conserve at least 48,000 litres of water per year.

Our tour vehicles are jet-washed ONLY at completion of each tour. We use eco-friendly cleaning products while on tour; Lilly’s Eco Clean internally and NoH20 externally. The micro-fibre cloths are washed with Ecover eco-friendly tablets are stored in washable cloth bags for re-use.

Even our toilets are green! All cisterns at VagaHQ are fitted with 2x 500ml water bottles, reducing the amount required per flush.


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All waste generated both on tour and at VagaHQ is recycled.

This includes office paper, card and cardboard, hard and soft plastic, polystyrene, batteries, phones and printer cartridges, metals and glass.

We compost all organic waste. Also 100% compostable are our branded coffee cups, provided free to all tour guests.

Another gift for all guests is our Vagabond reusable water bottle - perfect for avoiding single-use plastic!

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We believe our small-group tours are one of the most efficient ways to see Ireland.

All of our tour vehicles use the very latest and most efficient Mercedes turbo-diesel engines. They carry up to 15 people, plus luggage.

The CO2 emitted per person is relatively small when compared to, say, 2 people driving a rental car.

Our VagaGuides are expertly trained to drive in a smooth, safe and considerate way, further reducing fuel consumption.

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Bike To Work

Vagabond Tours actively supports staff who want to cycle to work.

Tax-free bikes and e-bikes are available to all of our employees via the Bike To Work scheme.

The net effect is a reduction in traffic congestion and lower carbon emissions.


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Ethical Coffee

Moyee are an Irish coffee startup who both source and roast their coffee beans in Ethiopia.

Keeping an extra step of the supply chain at source ensures skills, jobs and added value remain in Africa.

(The coffee is delicious too).

Litter-Picking in Wicklow and On Tour

Leave No Trace Training
Litter picking locally
Clean up at our Pure Mile

All Vagabond Tours staff carry out litter picks. This happens in Wicklow, close to our VagaHQ, and on tour.

Since 2018, we have partnered with the Pure Mile Project to adopt a section of local woodland. Our staff members successfully returned the area near Glencree in Wicklow to its original state. What had become a frequent dumping ground was now pure again!

Out on the road, we've challenged ourselves and our guests to take part in Zero Waste Week. Our VagaGuides got creative to spell out the impact that responsible tourism can have.

Litter picking for Zero Waste Week and Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland

Do you want to help?

We are all conscious of the carbon footprint we create in our travels. If you'd like to ask us more about the resposible tourism we practice on our trips to Ireland, please feel free to get in touch.

Climatecare is a non-profit organisation which raises awareness of climate change by supporting humanitarian and environmental projects globally.

Use the carbon calculator and offset your emissions at Climarecare.

Click here to launch the Climate Care Calculator App.

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TripAdvisor owl logo icon in very very very dark grey

"Our 7 Day Driftwood Treasure Ireland Tour was wonderful… Vagabond has made great effort to reduce their environmental impact. Water bottles were provided, as were recyclable coffee go cups. I really appreciated their respect for the beautiful land we were touring."

Adventure138611 - Reviewed October 1 2018 on Trip Advisor


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"We took the 12 Day Vagabond Giant Irish Adventure Tour...

The company has some excellent values and standards and lives up to them (environmental sustainability, personalized service etc)."

E435ZZerins - Reviewed May 14 2017

Sustainable Travel Ireland

In 2017, we were awarded Irish Ecotourism Gold Level certification.

In 2019, Rob took his commitment to responsible tourism one step further by acquiring Sustainable Travel Ireland (formerly EcoTourism Ireland). We are currently in the process of researching a suitably independent body to re-certify Vagabond Tours, as we will no longer be certified by Ecotourism Ireland.

Rob Rankin and Larry Coady of Vagabond Tours accept Eco Tourism Gold Level Certificate from Mary Mulvey of Eco Tourism Ireland

Our Sustainability Partners

We are proud members of, or partner with, all kinds of sustainability-focused organisations:

Our Sustainable Tourism Partnerships

Tour Guide on Leave No Trace training in Ireland
Puffin with BirdWatch Ireland logo
Two men planting trees with Trees on the Land logo
Solar panels with Solar Electric logo

Find Out More About Our Responsible Tourism Efforts

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Responsible Tourism On The Road

We save water, conserve fuel and practice Leave No Trace while on tour

Find Out More
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Visit Green VagaHQ

We operate a green headquarters by recycling, saving water and energy.

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The Extra Mile

We go further by litter picking, educating our guests and helping local communities.

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EcoTourism Ireland

Read why Vagabond founder, Rob Rankin, acquired EcoTourism Ireland in 2019.

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Our Social and Environmental Policy

Read our full Social and Environmental Policy

Find Out More
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Proud member of Leave No Trace

As proud partners of Leave No Trace Ireland, we train all of our guides in the Leave No Trace Ireland awareness programme.

Twelve of our staff have qualified as Leave No Trace Trainers. This approach not only ensures that our footprint on the landscape remains minimal. It also enables us to raise the level of environmental awareness among Vagabond guests.

Proud member of Birdwatch Ireland

We are proud members of Birdwatch Ireland and maintain both bird feeders and nesting boxes at Vagabond HQ.

We actively encourage our accommodation suppliers to follow suit. We were delighted when Beech Hill House Hotel and Gougane Barra Hotel both followed our example!


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