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Five Steps to a Road Less Traveled

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We look for stress-free experiences to counterbalance the stress of our normal, busy lives.  Sometimes what we get is the opposite: a hectic, over-jammed-yet-under-planned trip that leaves us needing a vacation from our vacation. 

Planning your trip ahead of time and having a dedicated planner work with you to design the right trip for you and your family is the first step. Good planning will increase your comfort level with your surroundings, allow you to go off the beaten path with confidence, stay local, and help you find your own memorable moments, far from the madding crowd.

Keeping a few steps in mind as you plan can make all the difference:

  1. Off the Beaten Path: Popular tourist destinations often face issues like over-tourism, which can strain local resources and harm ecosystems. Instead of joining the masses, opt for lesser-known destinations where your presence can make a positive difference. Discover hidden gems, support local businesses, and experience the authentic charm of less-visited places. Both your experiences and social media posts will be unique.
  1. Avoid “Hit and Run” Tourism: Short trips with rushed itineraries and the ‘if it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium’ trip, can leave you feeling exhausted and missing out on the authentic experiences a destination has to offer. Instead, embrace longer, more thoughtfully planned experiences that allow you to immerse yourself in the culture, reduce the number of flights, and contribute more meaningfully to the local economy.
  1. Travel Like the Locals (unless you are in LA.): Embrace the local way of life wherever you go. Use trains instead of planes, ditch taxis where you can walk or bike. And live like a local: rent a home, apartment, or locally owned B&B/Hotel. Eat in locally owned restaurants or participate in a cooking lesson. Buy local crafts, instead of Made in China snow-globes and kitchen magnets. Go to local museums and parks. Participate in wildlife encounters that prioritize animal welfare and habitat preservation. Choose guided tours and experiences led by knowledgeable local guides who promote responsible wildlife tourism. Aim to leave as much of your cash in the communities you visit as you can. Your spending directly benefits the community and encourages sustainable economic development. 
  2. Respect Local Communities: It’s essential to respect local communities, including their religions and culture. Dress appropriately, follow local customs, and ask before taking photographs, especially in sensitive areas. Engage with locals respectfully and learn about their way of life to foster mutual understanding.
  1. Sweat the Small Stuff: Pay attention to the details. Opt for direct flights to and pack light to lighten your load. Give the hotel maid a break by hanging your own towels for reuse and changing the bed once a week instead of daily. And don’t forget your reusable water bottle – it’s a small change with a big impact, reducing the need for disposable plastic ones. These little choices can make a significant difference in your travel experience and environmental footprint.

Transform your family vacations into meaningful and responsible adventures. Leave a positive impact on the places you visit, preserve the planet’s natural beauty, and create lasting memories that go beyond the ordinary. Remember, the road less traveled can lead to the most rewarding experiences.

Allie Costanzo
A Key to the World Travel Advisor

This Column in the Sustainable Travel series is by Allie Costanzo & Lisa Helme Danforth. Each Week ESG News offers readers and experts a chance to share experience and insight on sustainable travel. Email here if you are interested in submitting an article [email protected]

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