Using Travel to Teach Sustainability to Your Kids
Do you remember the first time you flew on an airplane? Likely, the last thing on your mind was how much the flight contributed to your carbon footprint. Unfortunately, while air travel is exciting and necessary, it doesn’t score highly on sustainability. However, with air traffic recovering to pre-COVID levels and beyond by 2024, it highlights the need for teaching about sustainability. Rather than cancel your holidays, let’s consider how we could use travel to teach about sustainability for kids.
Local trips to parks and farms
Why not ditch the cinema and head to a local farm or camping in a nature reserve for shorter trips and days out? Look out for an organic farm near you that does farm tours. Most organic farms are run by people already passionate about sustainability, and they typically welcome the opportunity to tell people all about it. Nature reserves also serve a valuable community function, with many focused on environmental education.
Take longer trips
There’s been an increase in families taking longer periods off to work on organic farms in places far from home. What used to be an adventure reserved for 20-somethings on gap years, now families are taking the plunge together. The reason: parents want their kids to grow up with an understanding of where ingredients come from and how important it is to look after the planet that feeds us. In addition, these trips suit families because they are less hectic and don’t involve darting from city to city every few days. This means fewer flights and a lower carbon footprint for the whole family.
If you aren’t able to uproot your family to the farm, don’t fret: plenty of people are recording their experiences in blogs and vlogs. Online diaries offer excellent insight into sustainable living and are a great example of the intersection between technology, education, and sustainability. If your kids are already spending time watching YouTube videos, consider steering them towards some sustainable travel vloggers.
Even though there are reservations about the carbon cost of air travel, the excitement and memories of an overseas holiday are hard to beat, especially for kids. If traveling overseas is on your family’s horizon, why not add one or two sustainability-focused events to your itinerary?
For example, consider going on a safari in Chobe National Park, Botswana, or South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. The game rangers are full of knowledge about all the animals and plants that share the land. Alternatively, consider heading to the Amazon. The city of Coca, Ecuador, is a fabulous place to visit if you’d like to go for a guided wildlife tour through parts of the forest.
These types of holidays can help your children connect to the environment more deeply. The need for change becomes more realistic when you see the issues up close and not just as an abstract idea in a schoolbook.
Support an international charity
Consider brainstorming with your children about how to raise funds for a wildlife charity overseas. You can stay in touch with the charity virtually or eventually meet in person. In this way, the children can learn to make actionable changes.
Each successive generation accepts the burden of responsibility for ensuring it acts sustainably. It is up to all of us to ensure our kids are equipped with the tools to sustain the Earth for generations to come.