Holidays are notorious for costing a fortune, but not just in a monetary sense. There are the waste products, huge amounts of fuel and let’s not forget the impact on local people and animals. There are ways to spend some quality family time or that much-needed break from your everyday that will leave you feeling great in every sense of the word. Here are our seven unique holiday ideas for the conscious traveller.
Note: Before you go, especially if you plan on visiting some more remote locations, it is wise to chat with a travel doctor about any vaccinations you may need and first aid supplies to pack.
1. Buying directly from local producers
Each town has its own talented artisans, so take some time and seek them out! The beauty of buying local is that you know your dollar is staying in the community and directly rewarding those who put in the work. Some smaller towns rely quite heavily on tourism to survive, so keep your spending within the town walls to benefit those who live there – plus give you some unique and interesting keepsakes to take away with you. The same goes for food and beverages.
Instead of buying your produce from a large shopping centre, see if there are farm shops around, and buy your iced coffee from a locally-run and operated cafe instead of a big-name brand from the supermarket fridge.
2. Get involved in local eco programs
There may be some incredible eco-programs happening in the town you visit, so have a look around not just online, but on notice boards and the newspaper too. For example, beachside towns could have a rubbish collection day, or a there could be a tree-planting opportunity to get involved in. This also benefits you, as the traveller, by offsetting your carbon footprint. Hey, even if there isn’t a pre-planned program to join, there is nothing stopping you from taking a bucket and cleaning up a section of parkland!
3. Stay close
Nothing bumps up costs (eco and real-world dollars) like extensive travel. To combat this, base yourself in one central location and stay reasonably close. You will find plenty of things to do, and staying in one place for longer means you will really make the most of your host town. Less time on the road relieves some of the stress of long days in the car as well, plus less frantic rushing around to try to see and do everything.
4. Visiting zoos and animal museums
There are many animal-related tourism drawcards, and these can be fantastic places for the conscious traveller to visit (especially where conservation is a key message), but do your research before you go. Some are genuinely focused on the animals and take great care to protect their welfare, even conducting breeding programs for endangered and at-risk species. These places can give you great insight into the creatures they house and are amazing learning opportunities for children. Unfortunately, others are more about the tourist dollar – steer clear of these.
5. Offer a helping hand
A lovely way to get to know the area you are visiting is by volunteering to help out at a charity. Some places will prefer you phone ahead rather than just rocking up, so have a scout around before you leave and see what you may like to do. Post-disaster relief will always be welcome, such as replanting trees after a fire, cleaning up after a flood or rebuilding homes after earthquake. Soup kitchens are other great places to lend a helping hand and offer the unique opportunity to get to know some of the interesting local characters. Animal shelters may also welcome a little extra holiday assistance.
6. Take a hike
Wherever you go – if you have feet, you have a magical conscious holiday experience available right there. Plan ahead for this one and seek out some maps of the area. Most towns have a tourist information map with local walking trails marked, or ask at the tourist centre or chat to some of the local people while you are out purchasing a few supplies. Pack well, including plenty of water and food, as well as sunscreen, bug spray and a first aid kit. Keep a working mobile phone handy and let someone know where you are going, just in case of emergency. Always ‘leave no trace’, meaning stick to the designated paths, take any rubbish with you and leave the flora and fauna at peace.
7. Go with a guide
If we are talking unique experiences, you can’t go past the many eco-wilderness tours available, especially here in Tasmania. This area has coastlines like nowhere else and an incredible animal and plant life to marvel at. Licenced tour operators are becoming much more eco-conscious and man are now using solar power and low-footprint methods of showcasing this great land. They are also highly trained when it comes to animal welfare, educating tour participants about some of the local creatures while viewing them in their natural, safe habitats.
Kym Wallis, the founding director of Higher Ranking has over 15 years of advertising sales, digital strategy, and business development experience. He is currently working as Digital Adviser for TravelVax.