What sustainable travel actually is and how to do it for family vacations

A decade ago, my husband and I made a conscious effort to educate our children through travel. We wanted to teach them about the world, but also to show them how to move through it in a respectful and environmentally conscious way.

As first-time parents toting plastic diapers and formula, however, the possibility of truly green travel felt nearly impossible, so we opted to start with some basics.

Sustainable travel is tourism that actively contributes to environmental and community well-being. With every trip you take, the idea is to make decisions to embrace and participate in local events, invest in the community you visit, and put your vacation dollars to good use. That’s the mission of Sustainable Travel International, an organization that demonstrates ways that travel and tourism can lead to a healthier environment, greater economic opportunity, social justice and the protection of natural and cultural resources. 

But what does sustainability look like in practice? Here are a few easy ways you can adopt sustainable travel practices in your family vacations, according to FamilyVacationist.com. 

1. Shop and explore local

Shopping locally isn’t just something you should do in your own neighborhood. When you travel, buying from local vendors is both a great way to get to know a community and also a means of investing in the local economy. When you step into a local grocery store, fish market or farmers market, you’re getting to know the culture through food and vendors. Ask questions of the locals when you shop. It’s a great way to make an instant connection. 

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