We cannot talk about conscious travel without talking about its impact on the environment and the communities we visit. But how do we travel more consciously — both environmentally and socially — to minimize our footprints? As travelers, there are things we can do before, throughout, and even after we return home from a trip. As you check this list and reframe how you travel, consider this a journey, not a destination. We encourage you to try one new thing and build from there. Finding ways to apply this to your travels will take time, as will changing your habits. But if you can start with just one idea, you are already improving your footprint. Those small changes will add up.
This article is the final installment to a three-part series on becoming a more socially and environmentally conscious traveler: (1) planning your trip, (2) while on holiday, and (3) extending your impact once back home.
DONATE TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES
When you learn about or visit communities, issues, and causes, keep an ear out for ways to contribute once you are back home. You will undoubtedly interact with groups that could use financial contributions. What can you sacrifice in your daily life to give back for the ways this trip has enriched your life?
KEEP TALKING TO THE KIDS
As you return home, continue the discussions around responsible travel and global citizenship with your children. They are never too young to have these conversations and start building this lens. With some travel under their belt, this will start to make more sense. Seeing tourist sites alone or seeing diverse communities is not enough. Help them connect the dots between your pre-traveling advice and their experience.
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE LOCALLY
In addition to your own family, start sharing your conscious travel experiences with your other loved ones and in your social circles. What experiences opened your eyes? Did you make any changes that will stick? What changes are also realistic and important for your community to try out too? Your family and friends can also make changes to their lives that will have big impacts. Your advice can ignite their journey.
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES ONLINE
Use your social networks to share real stories of the communities and people you met, not the prepackaged version sold to make tourists most comfortable. There are likely untold stories or perspectives you can highlight and amplify. If there are social issues that other responsible travelers or caring citizens can contribute or donate to, share those too.
MIND THE APPROPRIATION
As you craft these narratives, be sure to mind the fine line between cultural appreciation and appropriation. Avoid co-opting or fetishizing communities, and especially partaking in activities or dress just for the ‘Gram. Consider the significance of the practice, which may be far deeper than you experienced during your travels. Ensure your language is respectful, avoiding comparing and contrasting where possible. Travel has the greatest power for transformation when those involved act respectfully and sensitively.
FOLLOW TRAVEL ORGS FOR THE GREATER GOOD
Follow and share content from other socially-conscious travelers and organizations to keep generating new ideas for positive impacts, such as the Center for Responsible Travel (website | Instagram), Impact Travel Alliance (website | Instagram), Book Different (website | Instagram), Sustainable Travel International (website | Instagram), Regenerative Travel (website | Instagram), Tourism Cares (website | Instagram), Tomorrow’s Air (website | Instagram), Tourism Declares (website | Instagram), and the Destination Stewardship Center (website).
Becoming a more responsible traveler is a journey, not a destination. New issues will arise, as will new approaches. Keep educating yourself and connecting the dots between what you read and what you experience. Make sure to keep your eyes and mind open to the possibilities and your own power to enact change.
If you have other ideas for our like-minded community, please share them in the comments section below.
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