When you’re planning a vacation it’s not entirely surprising that environmental conservation isn’t on your kid’s minds. Being environmentally friendly has seeped into our daily lives in hundreds of different ways, but almost never when it comes to travel. What does environmentally friendly travel mean? The World Conservation Union describes it as being “nature-based, educative towards the environment, managed sustainably and contributing to the protection of the natural site”. Put simply, it means that you need to transfer your eco-friendly behaviours from home into your vacation! Here’s some quick tips on how to do so.
Treating The Wildlife With Respect
Often when travelling to exotic locations, the various wildlife that you interact with becomes a huge focus to your holiday. Kids love animals, but it’s essential that you teach your children about wildlife conservation. Unfortunately, in some countries, global tourism is given more thought than the care of native wildlife and all too often businesses are concerned about turning a profit rather than the welfare of the animals.
Whether you want to ride an elephant in India, take pictures of lions in Kenya or swim with dolphins in Cuba, be sure to check out the business that’s facilitating the experience beforehand. If possible, try and find a business that is transparent about its business dealings, interests, and whether it is tied to any reputable NGO.
Make It Fun
Part of educating children about wildlife conservation is to be able to relay the message to them on a wavelength that they understand and feel enthusiastic about.
While on your travels, get into the habit of identifying different species of birds, trees, fish and any other type of creature you come across when you’re out and about. You might want to turn this game into a ‘life list’ which allows your kids to keep a record of what they’ve spotted. Finally, find a way to introduce wildlife-inspired games and activities to keep your kids interested and educated about specific population fluctuations or fun facts about different animals.
This may sound strange to volunteer on your hard-earned vacation, but by volunteering at local charities you’ll meet far more of the real people of the country than any of the tourist traps. Volunteer organisations would love to have you, and you could make a small but noticeable difference just for your presence. Volunteering also allows you to set a great example to your children and gives them hands-on experience in caring for wildlife in its natural habitat – an experience that they’ll never forget.
Responsibility Needn’t Stay At Home
Helping your children to develop a global understanding of the world is incredibly beneficial as they grow into responsible and environmentally friendly adults. Just because you’re away on holiday doesn’t mean that being environmentally friendly needs to be put on hold. Wherever you go, whether you know it or not, you are an ambassador for your country. Put your best foot forward and embody the change you want to see in the world.
Now working as a writer, Jackie Edwards started her career in the hospitality and travel industry, but after becoming a mom refocused and decided to spend more time with her family. When she’s not writing, she volunteers for a number of local mental health charities and also has a menagerie of pets to look after.