Where next, mom?
I hear these words every time we travel. I hear them a lot of days that we spend at home, come to think of it! Our boys are tiny adventurers down to their core, with a love of the world and a desire to see every square inch of it.
As we tote our family along the road, however, I'm always conscious of our need to teach the kids about sustainable travel. When I remind them to “leave no trace,” I want them to comprehend the weight of that task with their whole hearts.
I recently asked a couple friends what they thought about sustainable travel. They all eagerly agreed that it's an awesome concept and we should all do MORE of it! Asking if they actually wanted to take part in a sustainable travel experience, however, brought some hesitation. They instantly pictured tents and composting toilets. A recent poll by our sponsor AIG Travel found that one third of respondents report difficulty in traveling sustainably and 50 percent claim that “not knowing how” to travel sustainably is a major barrier. I think our culture in general has a difficult time comprehending the meaning of sustainable travel. To us, sustainability is all about buzz words like “green” and “recyclable.” Travel is perceived as an opportunity to “let loose” and “indulge.”
Not exactly a cohesive concept, right?
You can have compassion for the earth in just about any setting!
To help make a positive impact on people's mindset towards travel, Nate and I take opportunities to demonstrate sustainable travel as it applies in a multitude of situations. It's as simple as being thoughtful about our actions and trying to prevent negative impact on areas that we visit. When our family travels, we bring refillable canteens instead of disposable bottles. We road-trip as a group because it uses less gas than air travel. We hang our towels after use and ask hotels to point out their recycling bins for us. These are simple steps that can be taken everywhere from Disneyland to the Amazon.
As far as involving the kids, modeling good behavior and explaining our choices is the best thing for them. We buy from local vendors and support historic locations. We teach the boys balance and frugality in every choice, including simple things like using the pool at a hotel as opposed to making separate water park trips or buying bulk snacks instead of constantly hitting the drive-through.
And I think they'll be the first to tell you…we have plenty of fun while we're at it.
Do you take steps to incorporate sustainable travel into your trips?