As a community of traveling families, we all hope to raise a new generation of voyagers that will be kinder and more considerate to our planet, cultures, and wildlife when traveling. We have countless articles on our blog on how to travel more sustainably, how to use a social lens when exploring new or old places and how to pack smarter to reduce our waste. This is all great but how do we teach our kids to do even better as they grow? Leading by example is surely the best method but open conversations and honesty about the darker side of travels should also be at the forefront. Here is a quick guide on how to teach our kids how to approach sustainable travel and why it is important.
Help Plan The Journey
This is always my first-to-go tip. I am a firm believer that if we get kids involved in the planning of any activity, they will automatically get more passionate about it. Planning the journey together, especially choosing the destination, will give you plenty of opportunities to discuss the history and culture of the communities you are about to visit. This can help you establish a dialogue with your kids about human and animal rights, protection of natural areas, respect for culture and traditions. Give them options and explain which factors should matter when deciding on an ethical destination. Sustainable travel should be a family affair, make sure everyone is involved!
Impact Of Transportation
Let’s face it, even when it comes to most adults the whole concept of sustainable transport gets often overlooked by convenience and speed. Like most things with kids, make this into a game. Craft a table with different types of transports from bikes to planes, from cars to trains, and ask them to rate them in order of emissions. This will give you a chance to actually discuss the environmental impact of each mode of transport and explain to the kids why is better to take a train instead of a plane or why you don’t need to rent a car when visiting a new city. Continue the game by challenging the family to come up with the best sustainable mode of transport for visiting sights and reduce the family footprint, i.e. can we walk there? Should we rent bikes? Maybe we could kayak our way on the river and see the city from a different point of view? Slow travel can actually make the holiday far less exhausting and give you more time to understand a place’s culture. Understanding the logic behind these choices will help them grow into more sustainable travellers.
Kids love animals! This is just a fact and why it might be nice visiting zoos, safaris and aquariums you might want to do some research and check out the conditions the animals are kept in before booking a ticket. Get the kids involved in the research and look for places that support animal conservation and education. Take time to explain to them why animals should not be fed and how we must always observe them from a distance to avoid stressful interactions with humans. Kids respond well to examples so make it a game and pretend one of you is the animal, show them how they would react to loud noises, close encounters, etc.
Respect Cultural Sites
Lead by example! We all work hard to keep our homes clean and tidy and make sure we do not do anything the damage them. Well, the same should be done when visiting anywhere. Explain to kids the importance of conservation and that it’s important that we do our part to protect the past for future generations. Establish some basic rules like no touching, no littering, etc. Buy books or do some online research about the places you are about to visit and read about their history so that you can learn together how to be culturally sensitive.
Think About Consent
This is one of my must-do! We all love a photo and we live in a world where everything is captured in pictures and shared with the world within seconds! If you or your kiddos happen to take pictures that might show other people’s faces, traditions, personal items, make sure to ask permission!
Kindness should always be at the forefront of anything we do. When talking about sustainable travel, it really is as simple as respecting the planet we live on, people’s culture and traditions, learn a few words in a new language: a thank you and a please will go a long way. Respect the history of the places you visit!
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