How to Be a Responsible Family Travel Champion: Top Tips

How to Be a Responsible Family Travel Champion: Top Tips

Posted on August 21, 2017   •   Written by

This article is a supplement to our special focus on Family Travel and Responsible Tourism.

Many traveling families new to the notion of responsible tourism often believe that there must be additional effort involved. After all, the idea of being “responsible” about something often involves an obligation. Parents are responsible for the care of their children, for example.

Travelers further sometimes assume that responsible tourism practices carry extra costs in line with the obligations they are likely to face.

Neither conclusion is necessarily correct.

responsible family travel - family planting a tree

Photo courtesy of Sandos Hotels & Resorts

Responsible tourism is as easy — and beneficial and rewarding — as the responsible actions parents take in caring for their children. And it should be motivated by the same reasons: concern, love and even duty. In this case, it is to the planet we call home and the people, animals and plants who inhabit it.

Responsible tourism is also no more or less expensive than any other kind of travel. Responsible behaviors are not specific to any budget — not made easier or more difficult by the decision to rough it or seek maximum pampering.

So what EXACTLY is responsible tourism? And how can families adopt responsible travel practices that will fit effortlessly into their plans to enjoy a holiday break… and perhaps even motivate new ways to ensure it? How can families be confident that they will fit into their travel designs without breaking their travel banks?

I asked our members to share their top tips for helping families to make responsible travel decisions. Here’s what they had to say.

1 — BE ACTIVE
Cayuga Collection logo “Be ready to walk and explore and not spend your vacation sitting next to the pool. Come determined to try new things, especially the flavors of each place. You cannot cross the world to consume the products of your daily life.”
— Fernando Jiménez D., Experience and Sustainability Manager, Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort, part of the Cayuga Collection

Coltur Better yet: “Get as far from your comfort zone as possible – the further away, the more you ‘grow.’”
— Enrique M. Velasco, Director, Coltur

Why? Because “Responsible travel is about giving new places and experiences a chance to prove themselves! Branch out and away from the norm!”
— Sandra Desautels, Director of Marketing, Elevate Destinations

2 — BE KNOWLEDGEABLE
Elevate Destinations “Even little tips about cultural sensitivity are important, such as respecting the cultural rules of covering your shoulders and knees when entering sacred sites or temples.”
— Sandra Desautels, Director of Marketing, Elevate Destinations

This is more important than many people realize. It means seeking knowledge before, during and after a trip.

Say Hueque Before you go, “Stay informed with the latest news and trends and be mindful of how to minimize your impact when visiting new locales.”
— Rafa Mayer, Founder and CEO, Say Hueque

“Be clear what types of flora and fauna you can find, and how you should act to avoid a bad time. Talk and interact with the staff and the people of each country.”
— Fernando Jiménez D., Experience and Sustainability Manager, Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort, part of the Cayuga Collection

How can you do this? Review a company’s, hotel’s or destination’s website, social media channels and blog. They’re great ways to learn about and from a tourism establishment.

“We’re able to spread awareness to potential future guests about why eco-friendly travel practices are so essential while they’re still in the decision-making process. Then once they reach the resort, we have signs throughout the property detailing how and why they should be eco-conscious travelers, like why they shouldn’t feed french fries to the wild animals, how to save water in their room, why we encourage guests not to use straws in their drinks, and how paying beach vendors for photos with exotic animals contributes to animal exploitation and mistreatment.”
— Ruben Pachon, Content Manager, Sandos Hotels & Resorts

Whatever happens “Don’t let fear rule your decision-making. We won’t send you somewhere that isn’t safe for your family. We will make sure you are with a guide, take proper precautions and have an amazing time.”
— Sandra Desautels, Director of Marketing, Elevate Destinations

3 — BE FLEXIBLE
Global Family Travel “We encourage our travelers to let the country be their guide and allow for flexibility while traveling … often-times it is the unexpected encounter that is etched in the memories when returning home. Taking time to prepare our travelers inspires them to expand their family circle.
— Jennifer Spatz, Founder, Global Family Travels

“Accept and respect the idiosyncrasies of locals. Visit during a festivity.”
— Stephanie Sheehy, General Manager, Il Viaggio Travel

4 — BE GENEROUS
Il Viaggio Travel logo “Lend your support, give wisely (include a donation in a local school or foundation or village).”
— Stephanie Sheehy, General Manager, Il Viaggio Travel

“Volunteer or give back in some way during your travels. Follow your passion, involve yourself in the local culture and leave an imprint.”
— Mike Wang, Director of Sales, Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex

“Come prepared to give back to the community: visit a school, ask about what to bring from home, make sure to plant a tree during your stay.”
— Guillermo Mulder, Experience and Sustainability Manager, Lapa Rios Lodge, part of the Cayuga Collection

5 — TRAVEL LIGHT
Cayuga Collection logo “Families tend to take large amounts of luggage including toiletries and or packaged goods that aren’t needed.”
— Guillermo Mulder, Experience and Sustainability Manager, Lapa Rios Lodge, part of the Cayuga Collection

Waste management is a challenge all over the world, especially in places known for their sustainability, such as national parks, private reserves, secluded communities, remote beaches etc.

“Make sure to consult your host about what to bring and what to leave home, as a destination that is really committed to the responsible use of resources will have all necessary recommendations and services in place to prevent you from unnecessarily creating a negative impact on local conservation efforts.”
— Guillermo Mulder, Experience and Sustainability Manager, Lapa Rios Lodge, part of the Cayuga Collection

Also, “Extra weight on luggage increases the consumption of fuels. Consider looking for ‘carbon off set trips’ too.”
— Stephanie Sheehy, General Manager, Il Viaggio Travel

6 — EXPERIENCE NATURE
Wilderness Scotland “Read up on Leave No Trace and reduce your impact on wild places and their ecosystems.”
— Sonja Jones, Content Marketing Manager, Wilderness Scotland

In order to preserve the nature we still have, it’s important to behave appropriately while out in nature, especially since they impact the communities that live alongside.

Tourism Fiji “There are over 170 protected marine areas in Fiji. These marine areas are protected and managed by nearby villages and restrict fishing, diving and other nautical activities. The villages are happy to have this responsibility as it helps ensure their primarily food source from the ocean and lagoons are being protected for their future…. There are also numerous non-profits throughout the country that have been put in place to ensure a natural, pristine playground for generations to come.”
— Jonathan Reap, PR for North America, Tourism Fiji

Importantly, “Experience the wilderness using human power, be that on foot, by bike, kayak, canoe or sailing boat.” And to get where you’re going, “Try to make the least carbon footprint as possible by taking mass transportation.”
— Claire André de Cerff, Research & Development Manager, Inkaterra

For example, “Make connections by train to reduce emissions.”
— Sonja Jones, Content Marketing Manager, Wilderness Scotland

7 — SELECT LOCAL
“Consider purchasing some things you need locally. That way you end up supporting the local community in more than one way.”
— Guillermo Mulder, Experience and Sustainability Manager, Lapa Rios Lodge, part of the Cayuga Collection

Inkaterra It not need only be for practical things: “Support local communities by buying from local artisans” too.
— Claire André de Cerff, Research & Development Manager, Inkaterra

“Select local (start with your local ground operator, local experts, guides, artisans, souvenirs, restaurants, buy local).”
— Stephanie Sheehy, General Manager, Il Viaggio Travel

8 — MAKE RESPONSIBLE CHOICES
Wallace Pierson Logo “Choose a travel supplier that will not only support organizations where you travel, but will teach you how to make a positive impact. Maybe even offer an opportunity to get involved with one of the organizations during the trip.”
— Angela Pierson, Wallace Pierson Travel

Embracing responsibility in travel is something travelers AND travel planners and providers must do.

Travelers can actively “Choose providers who embrace sustainable practices.”
— Claire André de Cerff, Research & Development Manager, Inkaterra

“In responsible travel, choosing travel providers and destinations that are giving back to the environment and supporting the local population is key.”
— Jonathan Reap, PR for North America, Tourism Fiji

“Explore itineraries that include sustainability, adventure, personal growth, enjoyment, art, culture and creativity. We have a strong commitment to engaging local communities and businesses throughout our operations and supporting these communities is essential to help protect and preserve local culture and enhances our client’s overall experience.”
— Sonja Jones, Content Marketing Manager, Wilderness Scotland

“We typically steer our travelers towards lodges with better environmental and employment practices. We also are very strict about not booking certain touring activities such as elephant rides, tiger temples, walking with lions and other activities we deem damaging to wildlife and animals’ well being. We work to vet our nonprofit partners and collaborate with reputable conservation organizations and social projects.“
— Sandra Desautels, Director of Marketing, Elevate Destinations

“We also offer them a unique way of doing responsible travel which we call the TREASURE HUNT FAMILY EXPERIENCE. With this unique itinerary families bod, learn and interact with amazing sustainable activities without even realizing it.”
— Stephanie Sheehy, General Manager, Il Viaggio Travel

“We meet with our families to gain an understanding of their motivations to travel and what they would like to gain from immersive experiences on our tours.”
— Jennifer Spatz, Founder, Global Family Travels

However, not every travel professional may be as aware of the need to be responsible.

“If using a travel professional, and responsible travel is a priority for you, make sure to speak up, ask questions, and learn more about how you can get involved.”
— Rafa Mayer, Founder and CEO, Say Hueque

It’s a two-way street, of course!

“If our travelers come to us with a request for something that we think is ethically compromising, we will explain why we don’t book those tours or experience and suggest better alternatives.”
— Sandra Desautels, Director of Marketing, Elevate Destinations

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