“You will know (the good from the bad) when you are calm, at peace” ~ Yoda
Even if you are not an aspiring Jedi, as human beings, we all have a responsibility towards the planet and all beings on it. The state of the world is ultimately affected by our individual actions and our state of mind. Making conscious choices when we travel has the potential to have enormous positive impacts on communities, animals and the planet.
For example, thanks to a petition by World Animal Protection signed by over half a million people, Trip Advisor has stopped selling tickets to the world’s cruellest tourist attractions.
Imagine the positive impact on wildlife from that action alone. You don’t have to be an economist to understand the simple logic; if there’s no demand, there will be no supply – eventually. As consumers we all have power. We can choose to use our currency to make conscious decisions.
Here are five ways to be more conscious of communities, animals and the planet on your travels.
Five Tips to Be a Conscious Traveller
I. Be conscious of animal protection
Unlearn things from your childhood and approach this with fresh eyes. Educate yourself about the horrific animal abuse that is coming to light at tourist venues which use wildlife for entertainment. The World Animal Protection campaign on “Wildlife not Entertainment” is a great place to start.
Besides, nothing quite beats the thrill of seeing animals in the wild anyway.
II. Support small and/or responsible businesses
Keep this in mind when it comes to booking accommodation, tour operators and hiring cars. Chauffeur-guides usually offer excellent value and service vis-a-vis the bigger tour and car hiring companies.
Mix up your accommodation between rated hotels and good quality smaller places. For example, choose to spend a couple of days at a 5-Star luxury resort as a treat and combine it with other options for accommodation so that you spread your tourist dollar more equitably and more responsibly, while still enjoying an incredible holiday. Research your accommodation, some hotels go above and beyond in meeting their CSR obligations and can be a special treat to stay in. For instance, some of the big hotel chains in Sri Lanka have signed up for the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.
III. Shop consciously
There’s so much you can achieve by merely making conscious shopping choices. This is a list that will keep expanding as we get more and more educated about what’s happening around the world. At the end of the day who wants to be involved in exploiting child labour in the cocoa industry if you can avoid it?
Boycott products containing animals parts. Buy locally-made where possible, it will be cheaper and you will be able to pick up some pretty cool stuff which is unique to the country. If you want to shop with an even clearer conscience buy from Fair Trade shops. Don’t haggle with street vendors, the few dollars you save may mean the family missing out on a meal for them. Try street food if your stomach can handle it, not only do you get to sample delicious food, you are also supporting small local entrepreneurs. By being mindful of your choices, you can have a whole lot of fun and actually feel good about holiday shopping which is something most of us love doing anyway.
IV. Have meaningful or authentic interactions
Use your imagination and social skills here. Some suggestions are engaging with a local project or taking part in a beach clean up.
Find other meaningful ways to interact with the local community like taking a bus or train instead of a taxi and experiencing life as a local. Take it from someone who’s tried it, your holiday will be a richer and more rewarding experience!
V. Spend time being mindful
You probably have your own favourite thing to do to take you to that place of utter contentment and peace. Being on holiday is a great time to try a bit of meditation or take a couple of yoga classes.
Visiting sacred sites can be truly awe-inspiring and quieten the mind. A long walk along the beach or a peaceful trek in a rainforest are also great to truly unwind and reconnect with yourself. I’ll leave it to your imagination to find other options.
It maybe that only a few selected individuals have the potential to be a Jedi. But, there’s no such limitations on becoming a Conscious Traveller. Join the tribe or should I say “may the force be with you” 😉
Awaken. Go Places.
Fancy a fun trip to Sri Lanka, which is kind to people, animals and the planet? Click here