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Getting to know Amanda Yankow

We are thrilled to welcome Amanda Yankow as the newest member of our Sustainable Travel International team.

The daughter of a flight attendant, Amanda’s love for exploring the world started at a young age. From immersing herself in different cultures to spending time in nature, Amanda’s experiences have led her to embrace sustainability in her own life and travels. In her role as a Climate Solutions Sales Manager, Amanda looks forward to engaging companies in climate action to protect the planet’s treasures for future generations.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Amanda to learn a little more about her own story and her passion for sustainable tourism.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Chicago. I have two BA degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – one in Psychology and the other in Aviation Human Factors, which meant that I learned how to fly planes while studying why and how to prevent human error.

After I graduated, I moved to London as it was a dream of mine to live in Europe, at least for a bit of time. Now, nearly 20 years later I am still living in Europe, currently calling Barcelona home.

My professional background has varied from grassroots organizations to multinational corporations in a mix of fields and roles. To this day I continue to volunteer for One Earth Film Festival, which puts on an environmental documentary film festival in the Chicagoland area every year in order to educate and ignite change.

Amanda sits in a small plane

Q: What led you to develop a passion for sustainable tourism?

I have been passionate about traveling and the environment since I was a child. Born the daughter of a flight attendant, I had the gift to see the world starting at a young age.

My love and curiosity for the world, cultures, experiences, and the planet will never stop. It is the best way to grow as a person and society. As such, I believe sustainable tourism is important so that future generations can learn and enjoy everything on this wonderful and beautiful planet.

Amanda sits on a sand dune and looks towards the sun

Q: What is the most memorable trip you’ve gone on?

This is a tough one as so many trips are memorable in their own way.

In Namibia, we had a truck with a tent that popped out of the top so we could camp easily. Towards the end of the day, we were talking with some locals who had a stand at the side of the road. A big storm started to roll in which didn’t give us time to find a campsite so the group invited us to stay on their land. We offered to share the food we had and made a big pasta, which we accidentally dropped onto the ground while pouring out the water. Everyone laughed and we all still ate it. We sang and chatted around a fire. The next morning the kids brought us to some cave drawings that only they knew about. It was magical to spend an evening with the kindhearted locals and an experience I’ll never forget.

Amanda stands by and points at an ancient orange cave painting on brown rock in Namibia

Q: What are your go-to sustainable travel practices?

While traveling, I do everything I can to stay local. After all, I want the most local experience possible. This means local accommodations, meals, and shopping to give back to the community.

There are many things that I do in my daily life that I also carry over into my travels. To reduce waste, I carry a refillable water bottle and tote bag almost everywhere I go. When eating in restaurants I usually bring a container in order to take the leftovers home as I don’t want to see it go to waste, nor take single-use plastic. Food waste contributes approximately 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, I bring my own containers to buy products from zero packaging shops.

Luckily I also live in a city with excellent public transportation. I don’t own a car and take a bicycle most of the time. I love how Sustainable Travel International makes it very easy to offset carbon emissions from flights via their online calculator. To save energy, I don’t leave my lights on when at home and also don’t when traveling.

For those looking to get started with sustainable travel, I recommend signing Sustainable Travel International’s Travel Better Pledge and following their top tips. 

Free Resource: Download our Climate-Friendly Travel Tips List and keep it handy when planning trips to reduce your travel carbon footprint. 

Q: What else makes you tick?

Outside of work I enjoy a number of activities. I have taken dance classes in a wide variety of styles like lindy hop, swing, salsa, oriental, tango, and Spanish Sevillanas. I also love music festivals along with local cultural ones.

Everything to do with nature brings me joy so I try to go hiking as much as I can and have a nice terrace garden. Food and local beverages are the spice of life so I always eat regional dishes and love trying something different.

Amanda ziplines over trees in font of rocks

I seek out new experiences and try to learn all I can – so you will find me listening to a lot of podcasts. Staying healthy is vital so I practice yoga and exercise nearly every day.

Last, but not least, I have a fun 20 pound cat named Max. He is looking forward to making an appearance on work calls.

Q: What excites you most about your new role with Sustainable Travel International?

I am very excited to start making a difference for the planet with an emphasis on travel, tourism, events, and corporations. I have always done my part on a personal level so I am very excited to make more of an impact. It is wonderful to speak with professionals to see how we can work together to increase environmental awareness and help prevent climate change.

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