Breaking the Myths of Do-Good Travel

My guilty truth: I have never bought a carbon offset, I use electricity and while I’ve heard great things about granola, pancakes are going to be my breakfast of choice every time.

If being a good traveler and emitting a hippie vibe are closely linked, I’m failing.

Luckily, I don’t think granola crunching is required to be a good traveler.

While I understand the importance of eco-tourism, the broader umbrella of sustainable travel, resonates with me on a much deeper level. I may not be strapping myself to trees or staging sit-ins in the rainforest, but I am trying to help make the world a better place through my choices in travel.

And I’m not alone.

Many of us, according to a recent AIG Travel Pulse Poll, want to travel in ways that make the planet better but most of us aren’t quite sure how to do it.

The reasons to do it are simple: You’ll have a better trip and you’ll leave a lasting impact on the places you visit as well.   Hopefully these six mindset strategies will help you to see that the “how” is easier than you think.

Sustainable Travel

Learning from the expert beaders in Kenya then purchasing jewelry that helps them change lives.

Six Easy Steps to Sustainable Travel

  1. Treat their home as you would your home.

At home would you throw trash on the street? Bargain with your grocery store owner? Throw your towel on the floor after one use and then go searching for another one? Probably not. Somehow travel turns us into the kinds of people we’d never tolerate in our own neighbourhoods. Instead approach travel with the same mindset you’d use at home. Showing a healthy respect for the locals and their beliefs and customs will go a long way.


  1. Put your money behind companies that share a sustainable travel vision

Many companies have taken up the sustainable travel mantra. Flip through their brochures or websites and you’ll notice that there are likely sections dealing with how they give back to the communities they visit. Simply purchasing your tickets and tours through companies that support initiatives you do can make a difference and will encourage other companies to also work this way.

Sustainable Travel

Visits to classrooms in Myanmar benefited classrooms and tourists.


  1. Do as much or as little as you are comfortable with

Some travelers want to get their hands dirty, interact with the locals and get involved, others prefer to donate their dollars (or air miles/points) to causes they believe in.  Don’t feel that just because you aren’t digging wells you aren’t contributing. Many organizations offer opportunities to help through donations. Neither is more charitable than the other. It’s the giving that matters.


  1. Include the kids

Want to raise globally minded kids? Take them on trips that show them that people on the other side of the world are just like them! They’ll think differently about the news and their impact on the world when they know someone who is being directly affected by their efforts.

Sustainable Travel

Kids learn by osmosis and when you do good things on your trips, they pick up the habit.


  1. Make your carbon footprint worth the trip

There is no doubt that, as travelers who fly, we leave a carbon footprint. Some people combat this by paying to offset it and that is definitely an option. But, I believe you can also do your part by making sure that your travel benefits the places you’re going. If you are going to make a carbon footprint, make sure something you are doing with or on that trip does some good as well.


  1. Share what you know

One of the best ways to make all of us better travelers is to share the information and opportunities that are out there. I hope you’ll join me and my fellow bloggers across North America  for the AIG Travel #WhereNext? Sustainable Travel Twitter Chat on August 9  from 9-10 pm EST(8-9 CST/6-7 PST). I want to hear your tips for sustainable travel using  “#WhereNext?”.

Be sure to register here or below and to follow @TravelGuard on Twitter and Facebook ahead of the chat.


Disclosure: This post was sponsored in part by AIG ( As always the opinions and experiences are my own.

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