Teaching Children About Sustainable Travel

Teaching Children About Sustainable Travel

The future of Traveling – Sustainable Travel

Travel is essential, and most people see the need to gain organic experiences from foreign places; According to the World Tourism Organization, tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors globally

As per Our World in Data, from 1950 to 2019, the world population increased from 2.5 billion to 7.7 billion, or by 208%. On the other hand, annual tourists rose from 25 million in 1950 to 1.4 billion in 2018, which is 5500% of the astounding growth rate in the tourism industry.

Undoubtedly with these drastic growing numbers, family travel is also in the increasing trend. Travel helps your little explorer to develop a global mindset, improve their understanding of cultural differences. 

My multicultural family has always been a frequent flyer on both business and personal reasons. My daughters and I had our first trip when she was six months old. However, engaging much research in environmental studies after moving to Spain. I have realized being a meaningful traveler is not just about speaking the local language, trying the local food, and being polite to people.

Meaningful travel is also about protecting the local community and nature, lessening your impact on the environment, promoting sustainable tourism and responsible travel.

What is sustainable travel?

Sustainable travel means finding a balance and positive relationships among tourism, nature, local community, and economy without harming the cultural environment.

Travelers should be aware of pollution levels caused by travel and how that impacts the environment and wildlife. Understand how tourism may affect the local people, businesses, and native cultures. 

Where it is not suitable for the local people is most likely not good enough for tourism. Therefore sustainable travel can create a healthy ecosystem and economic advantage for the environment and the local community, such as building the infrastructure to support tourism.

As of 2020, several locations worldwide are beginning to experience overconsumption of natural resources, waste pollution caused by over-tourism. The local community faces the challenge of managing plastic pollution, food waste, water pollution, and carbon emission. In some cases, tourism creates harmful-wildlife interactions or even tourism phobia that force the local residence for relocation.

Most climate experts would repeat protecting nature and the environment is the key to all our future actions. Tourism alone is responsible for 8% of the World’s carbon emissions. Statistics continued to predict a growing number in tourism. If the industry doesn’t take actions to reduce carbon footprint and shifts to a sustainable behavior. The consequences to the environment and human life could be devastating.

Teaching Children About Sustainable Travel

The Importance of Sustainable Travel

Who is a sustainable traveler?

A sustainable traveler is someone who is conscientious about their travel impact on the environment and community. They aim to:

1. Be Aware of Their Travel Footprint and Offset to the Community Sustainable travelers understand the environmental and social consequences of their journeys. They take steps to minimize their carbon footprint and support local communities through initiatives like carbon offset programs.

2. Respect and Conserve Wildlife and Nature They show respect for wildlife and natural habitats, avoiding activities that harm or disrupt ecosystems. Sustainable travelers often engage in ecotourism and wildlife conservation efforts.

3. Support the Local Community and Businesses They prioritize local businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, and artisans, to ensure that their travel spending directly benefits the communities they visit. This helps boost local economies and creates a more authentic travel experience.

4. Protect Historical Landmarks Sustainable travelers recognize the cultural significance of historical landmarks and aim to preserve them. They follow responsible tourism practices to avoid damaging or vandalizing these sites.

5. Celebrate Cultures with Open-Mindedness They approach different cultures with an open mind, respecting local customs, traditions, and values. Sustainable travelers seek to learn and engage with local communities in a meaningful way.

6. Advocate for Sustainable Tourism Sustainable travelers actively promote and support sustainable tourism practices, encouraging others to adopt similar principles for a more responsible and eco-friendly travel industry.

Sustainable travelers are sensitive to environmental sustainability, striving to conserve natural resources for future generations.

Teaching children about sustainable travel will allow them to take responsibility for their decisions and contribute their actions to maintain a sustainable future. Direct your children to value the behavior as important as exercising and eating vegetables regularly. 

Here Are Five Ways to Instill Daily Sustainable Habits at Home:

Teaching children about sustainable travel will empower them to make responsible choices and contribute to a sustainable future. Encourage your children to value sustainability as highly as regular exercise and a healthy diet.

1. Recycling:

Teach your children the importance of recycling to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling conserves resources and minimizes waste.

2. Less is More:

Promote a lifestyle of minimalism. Encourage your children to buy fewer items and consider second-hand products, which reduce waste and pollution.

3. Reusable:

Replace disposable products with reusable alternatives. Use reusable bags and containers to reduce plastic waste and environmental harm.

4. Saving Energy and Water:

Teach your children to be mindful of energy and water consumption. Opt for energy-efficient appliances, use fans instead of air conditioners, and practice water conservation by turning off taps when not in use.

5. Cultivate Environmental Awareness:

Engage your children in activities that promote environmental awareness. Encourage them to use public transportation, grow their own food, and engage in creative, eco-friendly projects like making crafts from recyclable materials.

As a parent, your influence on your children is profound. By incorporating sustainable living into your family’s lifestyle, you can instill positive behaviors that your children will carry into adulthood, making a lasting impact on the world.”

Teach Children the importance of sustainable travel

Pre-Travel Planning

Trip planning is the first part of your journey. As you go through the trip planning process, you’ll need to consider your options for travel service providers, transportation, accommodation, and your packing approach. In the process of planning a trip, involve your children! Guide your children on how to select a destination where they can produce the least impact on the environment.

Travel with a Purpose

Below are the most common eight types of travel: 

  • Road trip
  • Weekend trip
  • Long term slow travel
  • Group travel
  • visiting friend and family overseas
  • Event travel
  • Volunteer travel
  • Business travel

Defining the purpose is also to identify the number of travelers within the group. The smaller group has a lesser environmental impact, as it reduces the strain on resources and allows the local economy to gain enough time to absorb the economic benefits.

Choosing a Destination

Depending on the purpose, choosing a destination is usually based on personal or family interest. Some people seek recommendations from travel agents, travel operators, family friends, influencers, or travel books. 

Due to the popularity of internet research, most people rely upon much research through online sources. In consequence, no one is policing the ads,  causing false advertisement and over-tourism in some locations. 

Destinations such as Venice, Barcelona, and Amsterdam are currently suffering over-tourism. Make plans to travel to less crowded destinations and explain to your children the reason behind this selection. As a sustainable traveler, choosing less popular destinations can still be fun, avoiding over-tourism and also benefiting the less population of the World. 

Another fantastic selection to explore with children is to be in nature, understand nature, and teach your children correct behavior on how to interact with wildlife. Similar situations, natural resources of famous National Park, or Mount Everest are also suffering from a massive influx of travelers. Search for ecotourism destinations would protect the local community with income and support.

Choosing Service Providers 

Most travel agents can help you with any type of trip, and they can provide knowledge about specific destinations. A sustainable traveler will search for specialists or service providers involved in corporate social responsibility and environmental management, basically contributing their money back to the community. 

There are several ways that the companies chose to give back to the community, For example, taking a portion of corporate profit to support education, healthcare, youth training, or other social needs in rural underserved communities. While some promote locally-produced products and services, and others provide job opportunities. 

Choosing a certified eco-friendly hotel

The Hotel Global Decarbonisation Report states that the hotel sector must reduce its carbon footprint by 90% in 2050 to keep global warming below the standard of Paris Agreement.

Since hotels generate a significant carbon footprint for the environment. Pick a green property!

Pick a green property has TWO main benefits:

  1. Encourage hotels to shift to be more eco-minded. 
  2. Educating the consumer to understand more about eco-friendly choices.

There are several Green hotel certificates around the World, one of the simplest ways to search for a green hotel is Booking.com that indicates “sustainable property”. You can even call the hotel with children, ask if they use solar energy or recycle the waste; I believe one of the most sustainable travel methods is booking the homestays or local eco-friendly lodging to support the local community.

Related article: How to Find a Green Hotel | Responsible Travel

Choosing a Travel Mode

Transportation is an important decision because of carbon emission. Based on the current location you have selected with your children, what is your commute mode choice to the destination? 

The most recommended and greenest way of traveling is by bus, trains, bike, and foot. The least is flying and traveling in SUVs.

Calculate the carbon footprint based on your plan and support the carbon footprint offset program to contribute back; A family of three flying economy classes from Spain to Taiwan, which is around 10,000km (6,500miles), will produce approximately 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in a single trip. 

In general, driving generates fewer emissions than flying. However, it is not always greener than flying, two people in a car emit roughly the same amount of carbon from flying. One of the worst options will be driving an SUV car alone.

If flying is your only mode of commute, fly with an airline company participates in the carbon offset program, and choose the most direct flight because most of the emissions occur during take-off and landing. 

Currently, there are over 30 IATA member airlines that have introduced an offset program. 

Choosing Travel Essentials 

As a mother of two young children, I found that this category is the most challenging one. Learning how to downsize the pieces of luggage isn’t easy, always tempting to pack extra clothes and toys for kids.  

I understand how challenging it is to pack light for two little children, especially when each child demands a different level of needs.

Follow these two simple rules and slowly adapt yourself to a new packing technique: 

1. Avoid one time products

Small isn’t always better in some situations. For example, travel-size toiletry is lightweight but often results in a large amount of waste. Alternatively, you can bring toiletries from home filled with reusable containers. Children will be drinking plenty of water during the trip instead of buying new bottles along the way and bringing a reusable water bottle

2. Less is more

Quickly dry and light material clothes, schedule a laundry visit during the trip if necessary. Instead of bringing a few pairs of shoes, bring one multi-purpose shoe. Differentiate “nice to have” and “must-have,” keep your belonging under the “must-have” category. Remember to leave a reusable bag with you for a sustainable shopping experience. 

Teach Children the importance of sustainable travel

Bon Voyage – During the Trip

We know that a quality journey starts from the moment of leaving home. Although planning is essential, embracing uncertainty is also part of the travel experience. 

Traveling in a foreign place is equivalent to being a guest at someone’s home! During the trip, besides exploring the cultures. We will be teaching our children how to behave appropriately at someone’s home. 

Respect Locals and cultures

Responsible travelers are also conscious traveler! I understand it is incredibly challenging to keep young children under control at all times. But there are still some fundamental rules to follow when your children are making mistakes in a foreign destination, correcting your child into appropriate behavior immediately is vital.

Respecting locals and cultures is not limited to putting a smile on your face and trying to speak the local language politely. Research dos’ and don’t before traveling is essential; be mindful when photographed, proper grooming and clean appearance are crucial to gain respect. 

Support the local community and business

Hire a local tour guide rather than booking from a global company. Spending in local markets, restaurants, artisans, and businesses is the most direct way to ensure that your help will reach the local community. 

Do not waste resources.

Shop with a reusable bag, drink from a reusable water bottle, enjoy local food without over-ordering. Be mindful using resources in the hotel; don’t wash towels and linens every day, turn off light and air-conditioning when leaving the room. Travel-size toothpaste and toiletry are usually resulting in wastage if you leave them behind in the hotel. Be mindful of your actions, and try to minimize wastage on your footprint. 

Conserve nature

Use the travel opportunity to show your children that recycling habits should go beyond the home, avoid plastics, and clean as you go. If you are going to a protected zone, teach your children the appropriate behavior with wildlife and nature, such as not throwing trash on the ground, do not disturb the animals, and follow the park rules. 

Conserving natural resources and the environment is everyone’s responsibility,  if each individual pays close attention to their behavior and shifts towards the practice of sustainable travel, the collective impact will be enormous.

Sustainable travel is something everyone can do to change the world.

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