The world has become smaller and traveling has become a way of life for many people. But what are we getting from these experiences and what are we doing to save this earth and the beautiful places we love to see? You cannot be a traveler without a profound love for the world around you. Part of why I love to travel is because it makes me truly care – care about this planet and its plants, creatures, and people. We all feel that wanderlust need to travel, but how do we travel in a way that is right and best for all involved? This is where conscious travel comes in. Conscious travel is about being aware of the impact you have on a place, simply by being there. This comes easily when you travel with the intention to have a more meaningful experience, to travel with a purpose. It is important to remember that you as an individual can have a huge impact on any destination that you visit. To be a conscious traveler means to be aware of not only your cultural and environmental impact but also your financial impact on the communities you buy from. 2017 is the year of sustainable tourism and this list will guide you towards becoming a more conscious traveler through mindful experiences:
Quality Over Quantity When it Comes to Experiences
Travel slowly and don’t feel like you have to give in to the need to rush through everything. Traveling is more than just collecting stamps, it is about learning more about the place you have visited. Talk to the locals, visit the non-touristy places and see the place as it truly is – finds the soul…
Adventure is About Taking the Path Less Traveled
The best way to experience a new place is to take the back roads, wander the less visited places and don’t be afraid of getting a bit lost sometimes. Many of the tourist spots tend to be overcrowded and overrated and it may disappoint you, especially if your expectations are high… the path less traveled will rarely disappoint as you have no preconceived expectations.
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Memories are Better Than Things
You will find mass-produced souvenirs everywhere, but you do not have to buy these. Rather support locals in the community if you want a keepsake that is truly meaningful. This way you will not only have something special to remind you of your trip, but most likely an interesting story to tell about how you obtained it.
Savor the Moment
This requires that you take off your earphones and look away from your cellphone. Look up and look around you, listen intently and notice your senses – fully experience this moment, you will never be the same again.
Be a Cautious Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to truly experience a new place and help others along the way. As a conscious traveler it may seem the way to go, but be aware that it is still a business. Make sure the organization you work with is transparent with regards to what money is being spent on.
Small Actions can Make a Big Difference
You can provide selfless service that does not require months of volunteer work. Communicate with people in the community you are visiting, you may be able to help run a small family guest house, take care of someone’s home and pets, or help with more manual labor. You will get to know the people and place so much better and feel good about the assistance you have provided.
Make an Effort to Learn the Language and Customs
This may seem like a mission, but in many places, you will find old traditions and customs that may seem strange to you, but they are important to the community. It is always best to be aware of these so that you don’t inadvertently break their rules or make them feel disrespected. Part of traveling is gaining knowledge and wisdom and this means respecting other cultures and their beliefs. Besides, communicating with locals will help you grow and create more authentic connections.
Compassion for All Living Beings
This one is so important! I cannot state it enough, whether you are interacting with other people, animals or nature, always practice compassion. No matter what gets done to you, learn to always respond from a place of empathy. Things may go wrong, that is part of traveling. Let it go, learn from mistakes, travel smarter and be conscious of your energy. Also be aware of animal encounters and the impact this has on these animals, if it seems cruel, do not support.
Sometimes you need to be part of a tour, but please make sure that you choose tour operators who truly care about the environment and the community. Green tours make cost a bit more than regular tours but it won’t leave you feeling bad about negatively impacting the land or the culture.
Shop from the Locals, Stay in Family-run Guest Houses and Try Something New
Lately, everything you buy is imported from somewhere else (usually China), why not make the effort to support locals artisans and preserve the culture. By making use of family-run accommodation, you are supporting small local businesses, rather than large corporate chains. Your money will be well spent and you will get a better feel of what it is like to live in the country you are visiting. Finally, have an open mind and don’t be afraid to try something outside your norm. Part of the fun of traveling is the culture shock, immerse yourself in the experience by trying new foods, taking part in rituals or celebrations and make new friends along the way.