“Leaving a positive impact on the environment, but also the people that live there”
It’s becoming more and more apparent these days that we all need to be thinking a little bit more when we book a holiday or travel to a new destination. So much of our environmental issues and social-economic problems are in fact due to human impact. The incredible Great Barrier Reef is quite literally fighting for its life and the chance of seeing the Big 5 out on safari these days is next to nothing. As people are finally realizing that there needs to be some change, it’s important that we aren’t just focusing on educating other adult travelers, but it’s just as important that we are educating our children too.
We all want the best for our children and we love to treat them to fabulous holidays and take family breaks, but what kind of message do we send our children if they think a holiday is purely a selfish trip that is only about relaxing and having fun? I mean, of course a holiday or a trip is about those things, but does that mean it’s ok to wreck a place all in the name of a holiday? We should be showing our children how to travel sustainably, how to be responsible about their travel, to have good fun without damaging another country and disturbing another culture.
Here’s a few tips on how to travel responsibly with children…
- Educate – It’s so important that we talk to our children about our planet and that includes topics like emission’s and pollution. I have recently bought a bike with a child seat (not something that was too expensive) and I will be forever encouraging my son that we should cycle rather than take our car. It’s this kind of behavior that we can instill in them so that they grow up with good habits and a grasp on what transports affects the planet and how.
- Wildlife- One way to have a good relationship with our wildlife is to experience animals in their natural habitat. Seeing animals in the wild and respecting their space, making yourselves invisible and not feeding them will be something they remember from a young age. Once they understand that loud noises will scare them away they will soon know what works and how to really enjoy them.
- Practice – What better way than practicing and having fun at home or in the garden. Turn recycling into a game, let the children pick the most suitable transport for the environment, make your garden wildlife friendly. Once they get these good habits the responsible travel should go hand in hand.
- Nature – Something that is rather lacking in the newer generations is ‘respect’ in all sorts of situations. It seems that a lot of the younger generations have a sense of entitlement these days that has developed possibly through a change in family set ups. Some psychologists believe that with broken families there is a shift in culture where single parents will ‘treat’ children out of guilt from having a broken home. This is one possible explanation for the lack of respect and spoilt behavior today. By devoting time to the outdoors, following park rules, respecting nature and not littering we can develop a respect for the planet that we are currently lacking.
- Off the beaten path – It’s important we get far away from the ‘checklist’ behavior. People insist on having some mental check list and ‘ticking things off the list’ when they travel to a country. This is what is leading to absurd overcrowding at beautiful spots such as The Great Barrier Reef, Machu Picchu or Buckingham Palace. Try and only see these places in the off season, spend as much time with local people as possible, choose a lesser known site or a local guide if you need one.
Support Local Businesses – When you’re out and about on your travels avoid the big supermarket and buy local fresh produce. Stay in a family run B&B instead of a chain hotel, hunt out an artisan souvenir shop instead of the global businesses that will put a lot less back into the community.
- Animal Exploitation- Of course children love animals but if possible choose a conservation park ahead of a zoo, avoid anything where an animal is out of their natural habitat such as – elephant trekking or tigers in cages. Look for any NGO registered organizations!
- Smart Choices – Food is my favourite part of travel and as well as often being cheaper it’s a good idea to buy local, check the fresh food markets, eat in family-owned establishments – you not only learn more about the local culture and their traditions but you can get some of the tastiest food around!
We can all be doing more with or without our children but it’s so important that we educate the next generation as well as ourselves when it comes to responsible travel. These small changes can make a huge difference and essentially we treat others and their country as we would wish us and our own to be treated!
- Don’t give to beggars. Lots of countries make a business out of pulling children out of school and putting them on the street to beg for money. However sad it is to see it’s something that must not be encouraged.
- Volunteering is great if you can truly offer some help. Don’t offer to build a hospital ward if you have no trade experience! Equally, orphanages are not a ‘cool place’ to volunteer and Instagram about, ask yourself why you are choosing to volunteer and what you are actually bringing to the table.
- Shop local, live local
- Respect others cultures and traditions. Dress respectfully, learn some of the language and traditional customs.
- Minimise waste. Reduce the amount of plastic use, try natural baby wipes or reusable cloths if you’re travelling with an infant.
- Choose sustainable accommodation or tour operators. Check to see their background, how they operate and do they pay suitable wages to their employees?
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