More than Just Memorable
The more I travel, the more I find myself seeking meaningful, not simply memorable, travel experiences. This desire has taken me down the path of researching how to travel sustainably, considering the footprint that I have left on past trips, and even partaking in immersion travels where the focus is on cultural awareness and international relations.
I know first hand that this kind of travel can take a lot of time and effort to plan out, so let’s talk about some of the easy ways you can start traveling sustainably today.
Keywords of Sustainable Travel
In recent years, many keywords have emerged in regard to sustainable travel. These words include – Green Travel, Social Responsibility, and Environmental Consciousness.
While figuring out the nuances of each term can be a bit tricky, it is important to know that they all promote the same thing – that is traveling with footprints and impact in mind.
Decide What it All Means to You
Kelly Campbell, co-founder and executive director of The Village Experience, an organization we partner with, says “Green/Sustainable travel is traveling in a manner that respects and takes into consideration the local community, wildlife, and the environment.” Her company organizes tours to Kenya, India, Guatemala and other countries, that also combines giving back to the local communities.
Meghan Aftosmis, SR PR and Media Network Lead at Impact Travel Alliance, states that green travel and sustainable travel are not interchangeable concepts. Green travel connotes that it’s solely focused on environmental conservation, whereas sustainable tourism has a much broader perspective and meaning. The keys to sustainable travel are that a destination’s local people, culture, economy, and environment – are all benefited by tourism in that place. Even beyond the travel industry, businesses often describe this as a triple-bottom-line: people, planet, profit.
With this in mind, think about your own travels and decide what sustainable traveling means to you. Ask yourself how you will integrate more best practices on your next trip?
Do Your Research and Choose What’s Right
With sustainable travel, as with any kind of travel, it is important that you do your homework before you go. Doing so will ensure that you not only choose the right destination, but that you also engage with the right kind of organizations and travel companies when you get there. To get an even better understanding of the destinations practicing sustainability, check out Go Eat Give’s recommended travel destinations and blog here.
One place to start your research is to look for travel companies that have direct partnerships with locally owned hotels, restaurants, excursion tours, and shops. Choosing entities like these, over large commercial tourism companies, helps to confirm that tourism dollars stay local. This also helps the community stay economically stable and that the culture of that destination stays intact.
Prepare For the Trip
If you are like me, you have a stash of basic travel products that you bring on every trip. In the past couple of years, I have personally added a reusable water bottle, snap and go snack containers, a cotton wrap sheet (to be used as a beach sheet, picnic blanket, or poolside cover-up), and a packable travel towel – to my ever-growing expanse of sustainable travel gear! Each item has saved me so much time and effort while I’m jetting off from place to place. It has also cut down on the waste that I have left behind.
These Hydro Cell Stainless Steel Water Bottles keep liquids hot or cold and come in a variety of fun colors.
Take the time to purchase a few sustainable travel products that you can reuse on all your trips. Keeping these items on hand can go a long way in saving you money, while reducing the footprint you leave behind.
Engage With The Local Community
In addition, it is important to continue giving back to the destination you visit every time you travel. By partnering with local charities and social enterprises that have sustainable visions and missions, you’ll leave a positive footprint behind. There are many easy ways to integrate this into your next trip, no matter where you choose to go. When you travel again, consider shopping at fair trade stores, taking eco tours, joining cooking classes led by locals, and eating at locally-owned restaurants.
Another way to take this a step further is by donating your time. Many local organizations offer opportunities to volunteer for a few hours to a few weeks, bring much-needed supplies, or donate any special skills you may have. It is best to find out from the local organization what assistance they need. Go only with reputable nonprofits that ensure that no one is taken advantage of in the process.
Also, some of the activities Go Eat Give volunteers have done in the past include teaching English to businessmen and women in Spain, farming on a cooperative farm in Cuba, giving lessons on health and sanitation in Indonesia, and organizing life skills classes for women in India. Anything that involves touching wildlife is typically a No Go!
Start the Connection at Home
Even when you are not traveling, you can continue to learn about sustainable and meaningful travel while at home. Doing so will ensure that you have the right mindset before you take off on your next adventure.
The nonprofit travel organization, Impact Travel Alliance offers a series of virtual events that introduce travelers to a sustainable mindset. These are educational, offering facts and perspective from travel industry members from around the world. All events are free, but donations directly support their travel partners.
If you are ready to start planning your vacation, with sustainability in mind, of course, The Village Experience is offering $100 off any 2021 trip listed on their website. Make sure to mention this post when you book!
~By Jordan Dunn, Marketing and Communications Intern at Go Eat Give. Jordan is a Public Relations and Communications Marketing Major at Siena College in Upstate NY. She has a passion for writing, traveling, and advocacy. Follow her on Facebook and Blog about her personal travels.