My summer is quickly shaping up to be a wild adventure! In May I’ll be going to Phoenix with my mom and aunts to visit family and see the desert for the first time! In June I’m spending two weeks in Medellin, Colombia at Flying Tree Yoga, taking a “Spanish for yoga teachers” course and doing some solo travel. Then in July I’m briefly headed to San Francisco to visit some friends and hang out in the Bay before flying over to Rishikesh, India for my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Vinyasa Yoga School!
Everything is happening in a whirlwind of excitement, but last night at my yoga class, the universe afforded me an opportunity to slow down. I was reminded of my life’s intention to live consciously on every step of my journey— from big life decisions, to every day choices, and even to my summer travels. So how can we make sure we have the time of our freaking lives on vacation WITHOUT harming others or the planet? Check out these five tips for conscious travel below:
I’m always so tempted to overpack. I’m entirely guilty of wanting to bring all of my favorite outfits everywhere (because what if I absolutely need them?? Or miss them too much to leave them home??)! Truth is, packing light is not only incredibly convenient– hello carry on travel– but it also is one way to stay responsible on your trips this summer. You can cut back on taxis if your luggage is carry-able, you won’t take up extra room (and disrupt local’s lives) on public transport, and ___. Depending on where you’re traveling, it can also be super culturally insensitive to bring a bunch of belongings to flaunt in front of less fortunate locals. If you get to your destination and find that you absolutely did need that item you decided to leave at home, buy it locally and support the local economy! When I went to Nicaragua last summer, the locals really loved to see me in “Nicaraguan” clothing that I got at their second-hand stores. They were both proud of their culture and honored to have me take part. I know I’ll be doing the same thing in India this coming summer, bringing only basic clothing and buying scarves and saris when I get there. You always want to be mindful and show respect for the local dress code, so consider leaving your favorite neon t-shirts and crop tops at home. Opt instead for plain basics you can pair with clothing you buy cheaply and mindfully there!
Do you really need makeup remover, face wash, lotion, AND conditioner? I know it might sound
crazy that I’m suggesting you leave all of your personal care products at home. But get this: that
doesn’t mean I’m suggesting you ditch your personal care routine at all! There are so many amazing products out there that are meant to reduce the amount of stuff you have to bring with you when traveling. Conscious Coconut, for example, is a natural product that does it all– removes, cleanses, hydrates, moisturizes, and protects! Dr. Bronner’s sells all natural soap that is good for eighteen different uses, including body soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent. Plus it’s biodegradable, which means you won’t be leaving any nasty chemicals behind for others to have to deal with after you leave. Consider traveling cary-on only to force yourself to simply your toiletries. The less packaging you take the better– leave nothing behind but your footprints!
3. Choose Local
It may be comforting to see a familiar starbucks logo when you’re in a new, strange place… but
traveling is all about getting outside your comfort zone! Opt to support the local economy– grab
your coffee from a small shop or street vendor. Another way to keep local: be careful with your souvenirs. The big souvenirs shops and markets may seem harmless, but they are often stocked with products shipped in from larger companies or the capital city, etc. Try your hardest to hit up local vendors for those little trinkets we all adore! It can be hard to determine what’s authentic and what’s just a shiny object to attract tourists, but the best way to find out is to talk to locals. Last year, I went to a market to buy a hammock, and amidst all the carts and stands I ran into a man who was carrying his own hammocks. He told me about how the hammocks in the market came from big companies who were able to cut their price and take the locals’ customer base. These stands, aimed to attract tourists, were hurting the local businesses like a Walmart in small town USA. The story will look different in every country and city you visit, so just always take a moment to pause, learn, and try to make the most conscious and ethical decision you can!
4. Focus on Culture
Choosing to see your time in a foreign country through this lens helps preserve local culture and
heritage, making you a more culturally sensitive traveler. Visit foreign lands to soak in what they have to offer– not to push your own agenda. Resort towns are nice, but they are often like little off-shore Americas. What if you stayed in a nearby town? You can look for homestays and host families (Air BnB makes this easier and safer than ever before) and add an incredible cultural richness to your trip! My host family in Nicaragua truly became my family, welcoming me in and sharing their lives with me. Both of us received the kind of cross cultural experience that you just can’t get without forming real relationships. If you must stay at a resort, consider leaving for a few days to take part in cooking classes, craft workshops, or dancing lessons in the surrounding area. Take this opportunity to experience and learn from another way of life!
5. Respect the Wildlife.
Do your research before booking any wildlife attraction– ie, double check before you go on that
really cool sounding safari ride that all of the animals are being well loved taken care of. Even boat
rides and poorly managed snorkeling companies can have a negative effect on the
environment. I know it’s really cool to see that coral reef (trust me, I’m from the
midwest so beaches and mountains are like other worlds to me), but if your tour guide says
don’t touch, then don’t touch. Be mindful and appreciate the opportunity without harming the natural environment.
Remember, we want to see the world and let it have an impact on us, rather than us having a negative impact on it when we travel. Take a little extra time this vacation season to plan a trip that makes a difference(:
Happy rainmaking! xoxo Radiance