Traveling offers us the opportunity to break away from our everyday lives and embrace new worlds, new cultures, and new people. As travelers, we also have the opportunity to become more aware of our surroundings– are we leaving places better than we found them? How can we positively impact the very world that we’re so keen to explore? Next time you make travel plans, consider how you can be more mindful throughout the journey. Check out the tips below for some neat ideas!
“It’s not about saving the world. It’s about changing the way we live in the world.” -Richard Branson
Support Local Businesses
Even if you’re in the fashion capital of the world–cough, Milan, cough–there’s still no reason not to shop local! Forget the brand names and support the community that you’re visiting. Find artisanal shops and attend outdoor markets; not only will you meet more locals this way, you’ll be contributing to their livelihoods. Bring regionally-made gifts to your friends and family and back home…because handcrafted is way cooler than something with a “Made in China” sticker on it!
Book Through Sites That Give Back
Rather than booking through a travel agent or mainstream website, plan your next excursion through a site like Kind Traveler. With Kind Traveler, folks give a $10 donation per night to a local charity that positively impacts the neighborhood they are traveling to. And, according to the website, “as a reward for their donation, travelers unlock an exclusive rate to book directly with the world’s best hotels and unique properties.” How cool is that?! Not to mention, 100% of your donation will be given to the charity of your choice–Kind Traveler doesn’t take a cut!
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Of course, this depends on where you’re traveling to as some cities are definitely more walkable than others. You can certainly force yourself into walking by visiting a car-free city like Zermatt, Switzerland! Other car-free destinations include Venice, Italy and Silba, Croatia where even the mailman uses a moped! No matter where you’re traveling to, walking and public transportation offer a unique local perspective that driving simply doesn’t.
Respect The Country’s Wildlife
While many jet to places like Thailand and India hoping for an opportunity to snap an insta-worthy picture with an elephant or two, it’s important to educate yourself and others when it comes to local wildlife. From the horse-drawn carriages in New York’s Central Park to thrilling lion-petting adventures in Africa, animals are not always treated with the proper love and care they deserve. Book wildlife tours with reputable companies that don’t exploit animals.
See The World Through Volunteering
Sure, many of us vacation to get away from everything and treat ourselves to a few days of R&R, but volunteering is a great way to travel the world and do some good at the same time! And, you don’t have to join the Peace Corps–there are plenty of other opportunities today. If you’re into farming, WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a great option. Travelers can enjoy free lodging (and often meals!) for a day’s work on the farm. Go Overseas also offers unique volunteer opportunities– from working with children in Africa to building homes in Guatemala, there’s something for everyone to get involved!
Practice Gratitude and Spread Kindness
No matter where you’re from or where you’re going, aim to make a good impression with the locals. Connect with folks, expand your mind, and open your heart to new experiences. Be kind to your flight attendants, train conductors, and taxi drivers. Indulge in the European way of dining where a check is only delivered upon request, and revel in festivals like Holi in India. Enjoy all that is different and share these stories with those back home!
Being mindful doesn’t mean you have to chuck your phone and attend a spiritual retreat in Rishikesh, India. Mindfulness is simply the state of being more aware and focusing on the now. Live in the moment during your travels–don’t rush from one place to another just to say you did something. Keep an open mind, try to learn the local language, and embrace absolutely everything during your next escapade!