The struggle of responsible travel

To fly or not to fly… The struggle of responsible travel is real, right? At TRVLBEES we LOVE travelling, but we are aware that traveling isn’t sustainable. Although you can take the car or even better the train, the fact is that many of our holidays require an (international) flight and there currently just isn’t a cleaner alternative to aviation fuel.

responsible family travel

Moreover, tourism is growing closer and closer to becoming the world’s largest industry. Overtourism causes cities’ residents to move out of the old city centers, beaches are littered, and local business are replaced by Starbucks and McDonalds. Not only cities, but the entire environment is affected by the footprint the travel industry (read: we) leaves.

We’ll be honest, we really struggle with this issue, because boy, do we want to visit all those beautiful places. Below we want to let you in on some of our thoughts, tips and tricks on responsible travel.

Responsible travel, why?

On the one hand the aviation industry is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon gasses in the atmosphere. On the other hand, aviation brings prosperity to many regions as tourism contributes to local economies and some are reliant solely on tourism (nearly 10% of the world’s population depends on the tourism industry in some way). The importance and growth of the aviation industry (and tourism) comes with adverse effects. In 2017 only as little as 3% of the world population flew somewhere, but things are changing. The industry is growing tremendously; like the planes themselves, the numbers just keep on going up.  And as long as there is no real alternative to kerosene, this means the effects on climate are growing.

Another result of travelling is noise pollution. Vehicles entering and leaving natural areas and loud music cause distress for wildlife. On top of that, it alters the natural activity patterns of animals.

responsible family travel

Holiday activities, such as diving, may cause for a degradation in the ecosystem. Tourists taking a part of nature back home (such as breaking off corals during scuba diving) is an example of that. Sardinia, renowned for its beautiful pristine beaches, has for example imposed fines on anyone trying to take sand home as a souvenir. This may sound heavy-handed, but in the three summer months in 2015 alone, as much as five tonnes of sand was seized at Sardinia’s main airport,

Irresponsible tourism can lead to deforestation, sand erosion, loss of species, changes in sea currents and coastlines, destruction of habitats, social disruption and many more. Mass tourism is destroying the things tourists seek, such as natural beauty, unique culture and history. There is no question we need to reduce our environmental footprint, for the sake of our environment and the future of tourism.

Responsible travel with the kids, how?

Mass tourism is destroying what we all love, which is traveling to amazing places. If we do not make a change to reduce our environmental footprint, there won’t be any amazing places left for us (and our kids) to visit. We think most of you probably have the same good intentions as we do, but struggle with the same question, where to start?  So, what can we do on an individual level to decrease our impact and travel more responsibly?

responsible family travel

Fly less….

It’s probably not what you want to hear (we certainly don’t), but we also don’t want to beat around the bush. We need to reduce the amount we fly. So next time you’re planning your holiday think about whether you really need to fly somewhere. The WWF carbon footprint calculator is instructive in this regard (see below). Just two hypothetical short-haul return flights or one long-haul round-trip in a given year would outweigh otherwise exemplary behavior.

Instead, travel by car or even better by train

Are you up for an adventure of discovering a new city, discovering new cultures, foods and more? But you can’t decide which city to visit? How about a road or train trip to a less known city that is closer by? By choosing a city that is less touristy, you decrease the impact on the cities struggling with overtourism (think Paris, New York, Rome) and you’ll have a unique adventure to tell your friends about. By the way – our kids love travelling by train and nowadays you can take very comfortable night trains that travel at high speed. Our tip: book way ahead as tickets will be cheaper.

No other way of getting there? Consider carbon off setting. This article explains the benefits (and downsides) of carbon offsetting really well.

responsible travel and family travel

Support the local community:

By buying from local boutique stores (instead of the chains you know), eating at local restaurants, visiting local farmer markets (which often have delicious organic and local produce), buying your souvenirs from local artisans and visitng non-profits in the area you are visiting.

sustainable family travel

Be kind to the local environment:
  • Bring your own bag(s)
  • Don’t litter – obviously…
  • Drink from the tap (if possible) and bring your own bottles
  • Also recycle while you’re on holidays
  • Reduce your energy consumption: unplug that phone charger and light’s out of course
  • Say no to straws and bring your own reusable straws – our kids love sipping through straws so I always have a set of reusable straws in my bag
  • Visiting a beautiful beach or going diving? Make sure you use a sunscreen that is “reef safe” (e.g. Sun bum sunscreen)
eco family travel
Respect and visit the local culture:
  • Educate yourself about the place you are visiting and the people.
  • Respect cultural differences – and learn from it! People in different places do things differently – don’t try t– enjoy them.
  • Always ask before taking a photo
  • Respect the dress code: be considerate of local dress codes and adhere to them. Tip: when entering many churches, mosques or temples around the world, you are expected to cover yoru shoulders, legs and sometimes head – we always bring a sarong or shawl our our travels so we are prepared.
  • Understand the local tipping culture
  • Visit a local church, museum or participate in a local activity (for example a local cooking class – yummy food and interacting with locals. What better way to teach your kids about the culture or history of the place you are visiting!


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