The three pillars of sustainable travel: environmental, economic, and socio-cultural

May 1, 2017
Costa Rica

The three pillars of sustainable travel: environmental, economic, and socio-cultural

API will soon see off a number of students and post-grads to teach and volunteer on our programs in Thailand, Vietnam, China, Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico this summer. It is important to be intentional in everything we do, and particularly when we’re abroad, we can’t forget that we are visitors to people’s home. Understanding how we can positively impact the communities we visit may change the way you travel from here on out. Whether you have already been abroad for a while or preparing to set out for your next international chapter, this blog is an important read.

The author is a professional travel blogger who has shared her thoughts and experiences related to traveling, cultural considerations, tips and being a woman abroad. The entry below offers some clarity about a term used all too often, though widely misunderstood: Sustainable Tourism/Travel. She defines economic sustainability as “building linkages and reducing leakages – essential, keeping the money local.” She goes on to consider the economic aspect as the most important in creating a truly sustainable travel experience. She defines Socio-cultural sustainability as “minimizing negative impacts [of tourism] and focusing on more positive ones, such as promoting cultural exchange and preserving local traditions.”

Here are some of our takeaways about making decisions in your day-to-day life abroad and excursions. What are yours?

  • When shopping or eating out, try to stick to locally-owned businesses
  • When exploring the region, guides and others involved should be locals and paid a fair wage.
  • Research cultural practices and customs that you would like to learn more about to support the preservation of local traditions.
  • Be conscious about your water and energy consumption by taking shorter showers, packing clothing that can be washed in the sink and hand-dried and walking/biking when possible.

We can’t always make the right choices, but a little research and determination to really help local communities when we travel can and does make a huge impact on people’s lives. Life is all about the choices we make, try not to lose sight of how our actions affect those around us in the present and also in the long run.

Read this important blog and be sure to stop and think about how you can travel with intentionality while keeping the well-being of local communities a priority:


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