Explore Responsibly: Tips for Being a Good Travel Citizen

We believe that good products are nothing without good intentions. 

Travel is a big inspiration for us, and we think everyone should be able to access that same life-changing magic. Some of our proudest moments have come from partnerships with organizations that make travel experiences more equitable, accessible, and sustainable.

In 1997, we established a social venture partnership with Search, Inc.. As part of this partnership, we created Search for Adventure, which provides first-time adventure experiences for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

As we grew throughout the next two decades, we continued to point our compass toward doing the right thing. This meant practicing what we preach by volunteering and continuing to partner with other good doing companies and innovators, including Adventure Travel Conservation Fund (ATTA).

ATTA focuses on directly funding local projects engaged in the conservation of unique natural and cultural resources in adventure travel destinations. They recognize that the adventure tourism industry is highly dependent on the conservation of our world’s natural resources as well as the socioeconomic stability of local communities. They also believe that all travelers can become conservation stewards for the planet. 

We’ve learned a lot from ATTA about responsible travel. And while we certainly aren’t perfect, we do value progress. Here are our top five takeaways – of many lessons learned – on how to be a more conscientious traveler.

  • Tread Lightly – Take the responsible steps to toss your trash in proper bins and recycle items where possible. If the country you are visiting lacks strong sanitation or trash infrastructure, it’s even more important to take the extra steps to dispose of your own trash responsibly. Go the extra mile by traveling with a reusable water bottle, straw, and shopping bags.
  • Choose Travel Activities with Care – Not all tourist activities are equal in impact, including volunteering. Consider if your excursion or opportunity respects cultural understanding. Is it more than just a good photo op? Do your research ahead of time so you can make careful (and fun!) decisions while traveling.
  • Off-Season FTW – Avoid the crowds and lower your footprint! Not only does traveling during shoulder season mitigate the impact in adventure destinations (think higher volumes of trash, as well as vehicle and foot traffic), but it also creates a year-round revenue stream. Outdoor spaces can be particularly sensitive to high visitation numbers, putting stress on the environment and creatures that call it home. If you are traveling during peak season, do your part to stay on marked trails or see the city by foot or bike.
  • Support Local – Lean into local options for your food, accommodations, souvenirs, and tours (especially those that prioritize responsible travel!). Spending money on local options at your destination supports the local economy, especially when buying handmade items or food fresh from a local market. Not sure where to start? Ask your host or another local for reputable recommendations.
  • Cultural Respect – Brush up on your designation’s cultural norms and customs beforehand and keep an open mind upon arrival. Learning a little bit of the local language (even if it’s just “hello” and “thank you”) can go a long way!