By Oui We contributor Estephanie Gomez
As the year comes to a close, we here at Oui, We aren’t immune to the nature of this almost obligatory and universal retrospective period. We’re constantly reflecting on ways we can improve, always striving to better ourselves and the communities around us - a feeling that just seems to amplify around this time of year. At the top of our list? Exploring all the ways and resources we can to travel more responsibly.
If our collective decades of travel experience have taught us anything it’s this: planning a trip is work. Good-for-the-soul, spirit-lifting, and fulfilling work, but work, nonetheless. And we’ll be the first to admit that taking that extra step to ensure everything we’re doing on these excursions are done ethically can feel like added work - it is, after all, more research. That’s why when we spoke to the ladies of Traverse Journeys, a small group guided tour company based on the fundamentals of responsible tourism, we were more than eager to glean some of their expert advice. In part two of our interview with founder, Ashley Blake, and partner, Laura Hamm, we dig a little deeper to share 9 tips and resources we’ve learned from them so that you, dear reader, can do your part to travel responsibly and mindfully.
Tips and Resources for Traveling Ethically
(from Laura and Ashley of Traverse Journeys)
THINK GLOBAL, ACT LOCAL
Seek out local guides and local partners in each destination for both an economic impact and an authentic cultural perspective. Let your taste buds in on the action and discover local and organic food as much as possible while enjoying the flavors of the culinary customs of the area.
Look for tour operators and hotels that practice fair labor practices - specifically, fair competitive wages and safe working environments.
TAKE THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
Seek destinations where tourism income opportunities are needed and desired. This is also a way to find fun, impactful ways to engage with and learn about the local community.
CHILDREN ARE NOT TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Abide by ChildSafe practices and learning appropriate behavior around children when traveling, including the "Children are not tourist attractions" motto. We never engage in any form of orphanage tourism.
LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND
Find locally-owned accommodations that demonstrate eco-friendly practices, such as water-saving techniques, solar power, or renewable building materials. Mitigate single-use plastic by taking a reusable bottle and refilling at filtered water stations often provided by hotels. Or go a step further, travel with the Grayl water filter (available to Traverse clients at a 20% discount) and use with tap water along the road.
LET’S GET RESOURCEFUL
SITES TO SEE + READ
as recommended by Traverse Journeys
For great travel reads, you can check out the Traverse Journeys blogs on ‘'4 books to read on the road’ as well as destination-specific recommendations for Morocco and Vietnam (with more on the way). Recently, we also discovered 'Unearth Women’ - a new publication whose mission it is to champion female content creators and unearth women’s stories around the globe while creating travel content with the female traveler in mind.
For further travel info and inspiration from women travel bloggers who focus on ethical tourism or off-the-beaten-path experiences, we love sites like The Mindful Mermaid, Wandering Chocobo, and Where's Holly?
We’ve been lucky enough to discover and collaborate with the She's Wanderful community in Austin and will be hosting workshops at their annual Wanderfest event in February 2019. ‘She’s Wanderful’ is a “collaborative and inclusive community of women of all ages and backgrounds who help one another travel the world.” Their Wanderful event is “an opportunity for inspired women from around the world to gather together, share stories, and build community in the spirit of adventure, sisterhood, and travel. We’d love for your readers to join us at Wanderfest this year!
MAKE RESPECT YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE
Learning the language is an incredible way to deepen your cultural interactions abroad. For this, we love Freestyle Language Center’s Online Spanish course for folks who want to brush up on Spanish before practicing their skills in correlating locales.
INSURE TO ENSURE
Travel Insurance is really a necessary purchase for creating peace of mind when abroad, and we're thrilled to have found Wanderwell who offer competitive policies while also being a certified B corp that donates 10% of their revenue to nonprofits that promote conscientious travel.
Many thanks to Laura and Ashley for sharing these tips and ideas! In the meantime, as a reminder you can join me on the New Zealand adventure coming up in December of 2019. The trip will start from Auckland, traveling to the base of the highest peaks and the deepest fjiords - natural wonders that can only be discovered at the end of the earth. If you’re interested in joining me, you can secure your spot on the trip here. Use the code “OWG250” on your registration form to get a $250 discount on the December New Zealand trip!