Traveling is the ultimate gift. To be able to see the world, feel the cultures, embrace the diversity, and immerse yourself! We are diving into the root of why travel is good for the soul, as well as good for the world and why conscious tourism is a way of life. At Honeybee Weddings we tie together conscious tourism and elopements.
So, what IS conscious tourism?
Conscious Journey’s states “conscious tourism can be defined as an alternative model to mass industrial tourism that is based on principles of social and economic justice, which simultaneously offers spiritually fulfilling experiences to travelers, without affecting the environment and local cultures.”
My definition of conscious tourism: It’s not about the gram, the clout, or the crossing off of boxes. It’s about social and economic justice. It’s about extending ourselves to learn more about others and opening our hearts and minds. Your travel experiences should be fulfilling, but also mindful of the environment and local cultures. It makes us become more culturally and economically aware. When we learn more about other cultures, we learn more about ourselves and our place in the world, how we can give back, and how we can be kinder to our fellow human beings!
Cat Deline, photographer and marketing maven, joined me on The Climb with Kelsey to DIVE into what it means to be a conscious traveler and why it is so important. Cat and I talk about how travel has changed our lives and perspectives. We discuss why we, as a society, need to travel more. We divulge real life opportunities where everyone can be conscious tourists. Definitely watch the video for our raw remarks for conscious tourism and elopements!
Below, I have added the Honeybee Weddings list of how we can be conscious tourists. Let’s do the damn thing.
1. Travel during off peak times or explore non-clouty destinations.
For elopements, we like traveling off peak for a few reasons. It is often cheaper to go off season, it is less crowded, and it helps with over-tourism. Responsible Tourism defines over-tourism as, “destinations where hosts or guests, locals or visitors feel that there are too many visitors and that the quality of life in the area, or the quality of the experience has deteriorated unacceptably.” Oooo, not what we want to contribute to!!
2. Give back to local communities
Visit local restaurants over chains. Use local guides. Book Air BnBs by locals, visit the farmers markets. Put your money into the pockets of the people who have built the amazing culture you are experiencing! We are going to shout out a few faves here:
In our 2022 trip to Costa Brava we enjoyed the port of Sant Feliu de Guixols with their fresh markets every Saturday. A perfect space to take time to soak up the culture and enjoy the Spanish staples of fish, meat, fruits, vegetables and ready-to-eat meals.
Also in 2022, was an Iceland elopement at Reynisfjara. We started out at an Airbnb the morning of the elopement. Their AirBnB cabin was intimate, settled on a farm with chickens clucking around. Pink Iceland slayed with Vi’s hair and makeup. The whimsical half up, half down hair is a true classic! Pink Iceland is run by members of the LGBTQ+ community and commit themselves to contributing to the Queer community in whatever they can! WHO YOU PARTNER WITH MATTERS!
3. LNT principles when hiking or exploring nature
Leave No Trace is not a new concept to our outdoor hiking community. There are 7 principles, some may not apply to traveling, but it is important to at least be aware them all and apply them when you can!
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
You can learn more here. As long as you remember to be a good fucking person, you should be set!
4. Talk to locals!
Talk to them at their shops, talk to them in restaurants, talk to them on the train. The best way to learn about a country is through their locals. Tips below for how to kick off those conversations.
5. Attempt to learn the language, history and culture before going.
Nomadic Matt rattles off the best reasons to learn the language before you visit – you’re less likely to be ripped off, it’s easier to make new friends, it’s the right thing to do, people are nicer to you, you really get to know a place, and it could change your life. PROFOUND. One of her practical tips we love is, “No one expects you to become fluent before a trip, so even if you aim to only learn ‘Do you mind if we speak English?’ In the local language this nice gesture will be better received than if you shout, “ENGLISH?!” (Shouting never makes anyone better understood anyway.)” YASSSS QUEEN!!
6. Donate to nonprofits to the most susceptible to climate change
We also see this being a great wedding gift to yourself! Conscious tourism and elopements can go hand in hand. Remember your day in a life changing way, not just for you but the impact you can provide for others as well.
Impactful Ninja has a great list for 2023. Here are some of the ones we resonate with:
- Cool Earth: Protecting the World’s Rainforests
What they do: Cool Earth funds indigenous rainforest communities to tackle the root causes of deforestation and invest in projects that protect vital carbon sinks. The cash funds are used by local communities to run sustainability education programs which have led to the development of solar energy farms, bee-keeping projects, and sustainable waste solutions. The charities’ Rainforest Firefighters Campaign raises money to investigate how rainforest fires start so they can develop effective forest fire management plans for the future.
- Greenpeace: Defending the Natural World
What they do: Greenpeace investigates and exposes the main causes of environmental destruction in over 40 countries around the world. Their peaceful methods include advocacy, lobbying, promoting renewable energy sources, and community engagement. They also run several global campaigns including their Protect the Arctic initiative, which calls for a strong Global Ocean Treaty to protect the Arctic ocean from further damage caused by climate change.
- Practical Action: Big Change Starts Small
What they do: Practical Action works with communities in underdeveloped countries to create long-lasting and locally run solutions for food poverty, water and waste and management, climate resilience, and clean energy. In Sudan, the charity is beating the drought caused by climate change, by empowering local communities to plant seedlings on grasslands and installing solar pumps to irrigate stored rainwater on farmland.
7. Choose eco-friendly tour companies
If you are interested in tours during your elopement, find ones that are local. Your tour will benefit the local communities (food provided by local restaurants, local guides, volunteer opportunities, and no invasive animal experiences, minimizing plastic/waste) and provide an authentic experience. Conscious tourism and elopements are really simple to have together once you know what to look for! We are happy to do the legwork to make sure your elopement package for two includes what’s best for you and the locals.
8. When you can swap plane travel for trains… do it!
Fun Fact – flying is the most carbon intensive form of travel, emitting six times more CO2 per passenger mile than taking the train! (Time Magazine, 2021).
There are so many opportunities to see countries by train. Our American’s guide to eloping in Ireland points you to the Irish Rail, which is both easy to use and cost effective! We also recommend train or bus when going between Barcelona and Costa Brava.
9. Minimize your plastic use.
If I could give you a Stanley cup code, I would! There are SO many ways to minimize plastic when you begin to be conscious of it. We are BIG fans of BIG water bottles. They help you stay hydrated and cut down on the amount of plastics you purchase which is especially important during traveling. You could easily pick up a few plastic water bottles A DAY when you are traveling which means it is just as easy to save that much. Do you want to use 14 water bottles in a week, or ONE refillable water bottle? Pretty easy choice. We also love adding stickers to our water bottles, purchase one at a local shop where you are visiting to shop small. Added bonus- when someone points out the sticker and either relates or asks questions and you could impact more travelers to visit.
We think that’s sexy.
I said it in Costa Brava, I said it in Iceland, I will say it everywhere I go. I think the most important thing that I like about elopements is this chance for you to travel to another place and that leads you to this opportunity for conscious tourism. We’re not just landing in a place and tromping around. We are soaking in the culture, the sites, the smells, the sounds, all these things. When you’re able to travel to another country, you are learning about more than just yourself through this adventure.
You also learn more about others and other cultures.
You’re able to take it all back to your home and kind of have that stay within you. Travel far, travel wide, travel responsibility! So, are you ready to parter with an elopement photography team that believes in being good fucking people and giving you a one of a kind experience? Let’s chat.
We are going to leave you with a message from Girl About the Globe, “There are many great organizations making a positive social impact to their local communities. Whether it is a restaurant, accommodation or an online business, people are making positive changes about the globe. Next time you travel, see if there is a social impact organization making a difference in the country that you are traveling to. Here is our list of social impact projects around the world. Click on the organization’s name to be directed to the website.”
If you are ready to partner with us, to combine conscious tourism and elopements, reach out. Let’s cheers with our reusable water bottles to our next adventure – supporting local communities and making your elopement epic for all the right reasons!
For more information on conscious tourism and elopements, check out our latest Climb with Kelsey YouTube where we are joined with Cat Deline, photographer and marketing maven.