Ready to hit the road? Get in line. Millions will be hitting the highways and taking to the skies to soak up the sun on a beach or find some adventure at a resort, but have you ever considered how your travel footsteps impact those communities, the environment or even the culture?
This month, for Earth Month, we’re introducing you to the term ‘Conscious Tourism.’ It is the new eco-trend seeking to promote sustainable and responsible travel.
Here are four ways the “conscious traveler movement” is giving tourism a kindness kick in the bum and how you can become one of these mindful movers and shakers.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
There are dozens of compassionate companies that focus on providing unique travel trips that can fit into any itinerary. Looking for an island adventure? Check out a company like Seacology, offering ecotourism adventures with an emphasis on rainforest preservation and island environment conservation around the globe.
If animal conservation is more your style, Natural Habitat Adventures is the official partner of the World Wildlife Fund. Think of outings like Canadian Arctic polar bear tours, African safaris, and South American nature tours, all with tourism dollars pouring into local communities.
PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
Choose eco-friendly transportation and sustainable activities that don’t harm the environment – like fewer helicopter tours and more hikes through the jungle, picking up your trash and maybe others’ litter during a trek. This helps to protect natural resources, conserve energy, and reduce waste. So instead of taking that family road trip through the Pacific Northwest, check out something like Row Adventures, an adventure tour company focused on human-powered activities like kayaking, hiking and biking all while fully immersed in nature. Plus, the company makes it a point to offset carbon-producing activities whenever possible.
A destination may be a must-visit on your bucket list, but realizing it is someone else’s home is essential to being a kind and compassionate traveler. You may not be living exactly like a local while on vacation but setting aside time to learn about customs, traditions, and beliefs and respectfully interacting with locals helps to preserve cultures and traditions and promotes a better understanding of diverse cultures.
Many companies will paint with a broad brush when it comes to ‘giving back to the community.’ Seek out specific organizations like Peruvian Soul with a mission to show the world the magic of the South American country. One of the company’s most popular adventures is the Papnoel Trekero initiative. The trek offers travelers the opportunity to hand out donations, plant trees, and immerse themselves in the communities as they travel along the route.
Also, consider checking out a company like the UK-based social enterprise, Invisible Cities. The organization is changing the perceptions of the homeless by enlisting those who have experienced homelessness as walking tour guides in their cities.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN NATURE
According to Kim Kessler, owner of KIPR Global, combining travel, wellness, and luxury is the perfect mixture. One of her favorite spots is the Naviva, a Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, Mexico. Fifteen luxury tents sit on 48 acres of a pristine forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Kessler says the spa is surrounded by nature while using all products native to Mexico – the perfect place to rest, relax, and reacquaint yourself with mother earth. If wilderness and wellness are more your speed, check out ‘The Green O’ experience at the Resort at Paws Up where you can soak beneath the stars after hiking or horse-packing the many nature trails of this Montana resort.
Moral of the story? As a conscious traveler, your contribution, even if it’s a tiny gesture, can make a huge impact for your soul and the next generation.