I quit my full-time job in LA to travel and work freelance so that I could have a flexible schedule to work on my blog. I want to encourage a certain type of travel - a more responsible, mindful, greener art of travel. Of course, when traveling, there's no such thing as not leaving a carbon footprint at all. It's actually quite impossible. However, there are things we can do to travel as green and eco-consciously as possible.
I also wanted to dispel the myth that luxury travel fosters a disconnect between tourists and the land and people they visit. Luxury travel has the potential to be an intimate nature experience, culturally rich, and also environmentally responsible. It's all about finding the right travel providers and doing a bit of research ahead of your trip. My goal is to educate travelers that high-end travel does not have to be exploitative. And when it's not, your experience is all the more rewarding and special. Travelers can have a really fantastic vacation where they stay in luxury accommodations, eat fine cuisine and get the most out of the destination through adventure tours but also have a meaningful experience that does not deplete the resources of the place they're visiting. I hope you stumble upon something in FreshTraveler that will spark your interest in this type of travel and please let me know if you have any questions at all about how I can make this easier for you to travel with a lighter carbon footprint.
By supporting companies such as Coati Travel, an eco-travel company based in Costa Rica, we can travel well and travel responsibly.
In fact, they are currently offering eco-interested travelers the ultimate adventure with a chance to win an amazing Dream Green Vacation to Costa Rica. One lucky winner and three companions of their choice will be invited to experience the pristine natural beauty of Costa Rica with its lush rainforests and idyllic beaches, lodging at a boutique hotel in the hills of San José and the Cayuga Collection’s top luxury sustainable hotels, and regional flights on the world’s first carbon-neutral airline, Nature Air.
Get more information on how to enter online at www.coatitravel.com/dream
A quick glance at the ingredients of a candy bar can show you whether you're eating empty calories. As delicious as it may appear, empty calories are of no benefit to your health or the health of the people around you and I urge you to use the same analogy with travel. Be mindful of your travel choices and do not become an empty traveler.
As someone who has traveled my whole life, believe me when I say, eventually you will come to see that most five star hotels have the same amenities - 24-hour room service, cabanas by the pool, several onsite restaurants with a seasonal menu crafted by a celebrity chef, an in-suite jacuzzi tub, and luxe toiletries that make your skin tingle all over. After a while, keycard after keycard becomes almost impossible to differentiate.
What makes a quality place in my eyes is not the number of amenities it offers nor the number of shopping boutiques that are available onsite, but the quality of what is available. The quality of service and the quality of the food. This is why I tend to like boutique hotels over larger ones. They are small enough where you know the name of all the people who work hard to ensure that you have the best stay possible. In my experience, at a smaller place, you also get the privacy and space that you need to decompress and rejuvenate from the stresses of work or city life. However, I don't rule out larger hotel groups either. But when I choose to stay at a hotel chain, I like to know their values are aligned with mine and I stay at the ones that encourage a healthier, active and mindful lifestyle.
A mindful traveler takes the time to be conscious of his or her surroundings and is curious about life beyond the walls of the hotel. I urge you that when you travel, be more mindful in your travels and expand your horizons any way you know how. I believe that if we are all mindful travelers, seeing from an ever-curious, dynamic and fresh perspective (as FreshTravelers!), tourism can be a powerful force in both helping developing economies grow and also in helping depressed economies get back on their feet. Together through travel, I believe we can cultivate a higher level of understanding, open-mindedness and bring more peace, to both ourselves and in our world.
It's as simple as biking or taking public transportation instead of renting a car
or renting the most fuel-efficient car possible.
It's about a little prior research to find a locally-owned boutique hotel
or purchasing items from locally-owned businesses
or supporting the bigger hotels that treat their employees well and take the time to invest in the surrounding community.
It's about supporting the businesses who contribute positively to their surrounding community, regardless of whether they are big or small. It's not a 'BIG versus SMALL' or a 'ME versus YOU' mentality. It's about creating a win-win situation for everybody. This is the mindful way that I explore life. This is also the way that I choose to travel. I choose to travel to hotels and support travel businesses that are socially-conscious.
Since 2005, the adventure travel sector has grown. It is currently the fastest growing sector of the travel industry. Even during times with economic challenges, people who can afford to travel will travel... but they travel differently... for educational value, for learning, and they do it responsibly. In a way, the economy is forcing people to make more conscious choices.
Eco-tourism will continue to grow and expand. What Mother Nature offers is more fascinating than what theme parks can create. When you vacation in nature, you become grounded, your creativity increases, you are healthy and feel much better. Then when you come back to the concrete jungle, you bring what you learn back to others.
In terms of changes in the eco-travel industry since 2005, there are now more options available for luxury travel and more tourism properties are interested in getting their sustainability rating as a marketing move. This is a positive trend, with many luxury oriented properties being serious about sustainability. Boutique travel is growing, as well as luxury hospitality with a cultural aspect to it. Another change is that there are more and more people that are interested in understanding sustainability. Before, clients were mainly just interested in being in nature, now you have to educate your client on your sustainability practices to maintain your credibility as an eco-property. Also, more people are willing to pay for that education.¨
------ Steve Jacobus, the CEO of Coati Travel
Until August 31st, 2013, Coati Travel is offering a FREE eco-trip to Costa Rica for four people. See below for details on how you can enter! Best of luck and I hope you win! And if you do, please share your photos or stories with me. I'd love to feature it on FreshTraveler!