By: Katja & Victoria

responsible travel

Connect with the locals

 

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. – Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

 

We’ve always been firm believers that children should travel, however and wherever, from an early age. Travel is one of the best ways for everyone – young and old – to achieve a greater understanding of other countries and cultures. Surely greater awareness and empathy can only help everyone get along better? This can be no bad thing given how much hate and anger there is in the world right now.

However, there’s a difference to travelling as a tourist and to travelling as a traveller. While we love a good beach holiday as much as the next family, we’re also big advocates of connecting with locals when we travel so that we can experience as much as possible from our chosen destination. Of course, this is not always possible, particularly when you have very small kids in tow, but even the smallest act can go a long way and leave an indelible impression on your child too.

Also, introducing your child to art and culture from a young age can help to foster an interest – or at least an awareness – that stays with them for a lifetime. Babyccino Kids share some helpful tips on visiting museums with kids here

The following are some of the ways that we’ve found we can help our children learn to be responsible travellers.

 

 

The Planning Stages

It’s great to get kids, particularly older ones, involved in the planning stages of your holiday. In addition to getting children excited about the upcoming trip, there are certain issues you can discuss so that they are aware of what impact their travels can have, both good and bad.

Map

Plan the holiday with your kids

Photo (above): From Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

 

Your Route

Try and find the most direct route to your destination and talk to your kids about the environmental impact of travel, particularly air travel. Consider offsetting the carbon emissions of your flight. Better still, try and stay closer to home.

 

Your Destination

While it’s unlikely that Afghanistan is your family summer destination of choice, it’s worth considering what kind of track record your chosen country has in terms of human rights, treatment of animals and in its protection of natural areas. This list of the World’s best Ethical Destinations can be helpful. Of course, travelling to countries with less than squeaky-clean reputations can also be hugely educational and can force the discussion of issues such as the need to protect the environment.

 

Your Tour Operator

If you use a tour operator, make sure that you ask about their commitment to responsible tourism. How do they promote sustainable and responsible travel?

 

Way of Thinking

Rather than approaching family holidays as a means to tick off another country / sight / wonder of the world, get your kids to start thinking about travel as a way of experience a new country, culture and way of life. Consider ways that you can connect with locals in your chosen destination and in doing so the whole family will develop a better understanding of that place and its people.

 

support locals 2

Find out how your family can connect with and support local communities and NGOs.

 

 

Before You Travel

Learn the Lingo

Get the whole family involved in learning a few words of the local language. It’s amazing how far a ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ spoken in the local dialect will go! Little Pim is a great language learning program for little kids.

 

Packing

Consider organisations such as Pack for a Purpose that aims to match travellers with communities and groups in need in their holiday destination of choice. Rather than pack an extra pair of shoes, you could bring some school supplies to children in need instead.

 

pack for a purpose 2

Pack for a Purpose

 

 

Volunteer

Ask your tour operator if there are any projects that you can help with when you are travelling, even if it is just for half-a-day. Events such as this Coastal Cleanup Campaign can be a great learning experience.

Coastal Cleanup Campaign in Panama

The International Coastal Cleanup Campaign

 

 

Local Customs

Familiarise yourself with some of the local customs before you travel and find out if there are any traditional festivals that you can participate in, this is a great way to experience another culture!

Festivals holi

Holi Festival, India

 

 

While Away

Buy Local

Wherever possible, buy local produce and goods. In doing so, you will help support local communities. This also rings true of accommodation, consider booking a locally run B&B rather than a big chain hotel.

 

Indrashan Homestay, Jodhpur, India

Indrashan Homestay, Jodhpur, India

 

 

Respect local cultures & traditions

Make sure that the family is aware of what is and what isn’t allowed in your destination. Kids may find this fascinating – taking their shoes off before entering a restaurant in Japan for example or raising your hands in greeting (rather than shaking them) in Nepal.

And I’m sure we’ve all read this story, how US tourists were caught carving their names into the Colosseum in Rome or this story about tourists who were arrested for taking nude photos at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Obviously, these habits should not be encouraged!

Some sights encourage visitors to leave their name of course such as contributing to the restoration of a monument in Thailand and there are parts of the Great Wall of China that are official designated graffiti areas – although I’m still not sure how I feel about the latter! Get your kids to sign visitor books in museums or tourist spots instead, they might return one day with their own children and look it up.

 

When is graffiti acceptable?

When is graffiti acceptable?

 

 

Use local transport

Rather than hire a car, why not jump on a bike, hop on a ferry, take a rickshaw ride or walk!

 

local transport

Use local transport

 

Ask Questions

If in doubt, ask!

 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Minimise your footprint! Consider taking a re-fillable water bottle and make sure to dispose of your rubbish correctly, remembering to teach your kids why it’s important to do so. Do they know this Jack Johnson track? It’s a great one to have in the car.

 

 

Don’t feed the animals!

Make sure you talk to your kids about how important it is that they look after the natural environment – so no littering or chasing of wildlife. If you’re considering a visit to a zoo, aquarium or National Park, do you research to see if your chosen animal park / safari operator supports animal conservation and education.

 

Tara the elephant

Choose hotels such as this one that take animal welfare and conservation seriously. Kipling Camp, India.

 

Driving boat

Choose responsible tour operators who respect wildlife and maintain their distance: Whale watching in Panama.

 

What have we missed?! Let us know how you teach your kids about responsible travel in the comments section below!

 

You May Also Enjoy the Following Posts:

Books for Girls: Inspired by International Women’s Day 

Twist: A New Kind of Family Travel Magazine 

Safety Tips for Travelling in The Philippines 

Japan with Kids: A Guide to Tokyo 

12 Great Museums for Kids in Mexico City 

 

 

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responsible travel