A Proactive Mindful Traveler
Jeremy Smith writes about how his vision of ecotourism has changed over the years. His personal epiphany is interesting but the best part of this article is the questioning of passive versus active ecotourism. That is, doing the least to harm a place is good, but isn’t doing the most to improve a place even better? So, yes, we should continue to consume less, be aware of our carbon footprint, and take a kayak tour instead of an ATV tour, but responsible tourism can be much more.
Participating in local projects that are helping the environment or preserving local culture, bringing needed books or other supplies to local schools, libraries, or health care centers, or any number of other helpful and proactive activities would all be ways to be active rather than passive in your efforts at socially conscious travel.
We recently hooked up with some local people and expats in a small Mexican coastal town, donating money for schools books and bringing clothes, soccer cleats, and balls to the community. These simple donations put shoes on the feet of kids who were playing barefoot or not allowed to play because they had only one pair of shoes they needed for school. The clothes donations went to micro-businesses developed by previously unemployed residents who are now selling them at a small profit to their friends and neighbors, while building up their businesses. We don’t pat ourselves on the back too much for these miniscule efforts but we do look at them as a way to make a small positive impact through our own traveling.
What are other ways we can be proactive, mindful travelers?