E16 – Let’s Learn to be More Responsible Travelers
Welcome to the Roaming Yeti Podcast, where we share stories and tips to inspire you to roam your neighborhood and the world. I am your host and Head Yeti, Beth Schillaci.
In today’s episode, I speak with Dr. Rachel Dodds on the importance and how to be more responsible travelers. As Director at Sustaining Tourism, she has worked with companies, governments, NGOs, and tourism attractions on being more sustainable and responsible. She is also a professor at Toronto Metropolitan University in Canada, teaching at the Ted Rogers School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
In addition, she co-authored a book that everyone listening should buy called “Are We There Yet? Traveling More Responsibly With Your Children”.
You can find her at:
Welcome to the roaming Yeti podcast where we share stories and tips to inspire you to roam your neighborhood and the world. I’m your host and head Yeti Beth Schillaci. In today’s episode, I speak with Dr. Rachel Dodds on the importance and how to be more responsible travelers. As director at sustaining tourism. She has worked with companies, governments, NGOs, and tourism attractions on being more sustainable and responsible. She’s also a professor at Toronto metropolitan university in Canada, teaching at the Ted Rogers School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. In addition, she has co authored a book that everyone listening should buy called, Are you there yet? Traveling more responsibly with your children? is not just for kids. Trust me, everyone will learn something from this book. So are you ready? Let’s Rome. Welcome back to the Roman Yeti Podcast. Today. I am honored to welcome Dr. Rachel Dodds to the podcast. We’re speaking today about sustainable tourism. And this is a topic that’s so interested in to me and something I’ve been reading about for a while. And after hearing a couple podcast and reading through her site, I knew I just had to reach out to her and speak to speak with us about being more responsible travelers. So Rachel, thank you so much for being joining me today.
Thank you for having me on your podcast. Um,
just to have people sort of get to know you a little bit like how did you get started in ecotourism, specifically, helping businesses and destinations and even travelers be more responsible?
Well, first of all, apologize for my voice. I have been traveling too much. And so it’s a bit scratchy. And second, just before I answer that question, I would say possibly that I wouldn’t say it would be the term ecotourism because ecotourism usually refers to small scale tourism and natural areas, with a community setting. And I hope that at least I try that my, that my work focuses on the tourism industry in general, rather than just a tiny subset of it. But to answer your question, I suppose how I got involved. I think I’ve been very lucky in my life, I’ve been very privileged that my parents really thought that travel was an education. So I was my parents were British, and I was born in Canada, but I went back and forth quite a lot as a child, and I spent one summer camping all over Canada and, and the United States. And then the next summer, I was sent to my grandparents in in Europe. And so I, I feel that was a basis of childhood was a pretty exciting thing to do. But it also really opened my eyes to to the impacts that travel has. And I suppose my father said to me once, it’s a story I’ve told before, but when I was 13, we were down in Mexico. And there was we were walking along the beach one morning, it was my, it was my birthday, actually, I think was my 30th birthday. And I had just had chocolate cake and coconut ice cream for breakfast, which by far, none is the best birthday.
As I say, that’s the breakfast of champions. And I still tried
many years later to try and have that for my birthday breakfast. But we were walking down the beach after this amazing breakfast and the sun was shining, and I was walking on the beach. And all of a sudden, this disgusting smell hit me. And we realized it was raw sewage coming down from one of the hotels. And my father told me at that stage, she said, you know, you can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution. And if you’re not part of the solution, you’re probably part of the problem. And I think that really stuck with me. And I think I made some grand plan at the time, I’m going to become Minister of Tourism, and I’m going to change the way tourism operates forever, which was rather lofty, and I have not come anywhere close to meeting a Minister for Tourism. Nor would I want to get involved in the politics of it. But really, I think ever since then, I didn’t go into the tourism industry for a while afterwards. But I keep coming back to it. And I’ve and I’ve been working on it now for a long time. And I’m very passionate about trying to change it to make it better.
Yeah, that’s, I mean, that’s the best kind of origin story right? There is.
Yeah, and I think when you’re 13, you have no idea what you want to do. And actually probably in my 20s I had no idea what I want to do. But as I come back to it, I realized now later in my life, how lucky I am that I think I always had this passion for sustainability, probably working in my father’s landscape architect firm, you know, after schools or things like that, or just even traveling with with them. How much I learned that, that all the things that you hate about your parents, when you’re young you realize that you get older that maybe they’re not so dumb after all, and they really influenced you sometimes in a way but often and they were right after all. Exactly. And then you hope your children will say, You know what, you’re right Mom, are you right dad and you think oh goodness,
they’re there is that that happens as well and that’s a good thing. So, obviously I use I’m using the wrong wrong words, because there are so many words and And to describe some of these concepts. And so maybe the baseline here should be working, you know, defining some of them. So sustainable travel is that more of a, the term?
Yeah. And you know, I think it’s a really valid point. I mean, academically, academics love to come up, I’m a professor part of the time and real life person the other part of the time. Nothing against academics, but you know, I can be very colloquial at times, is that there’s seems to be a new term every five minutes. And for businesses, let alone the general consumer, it’s hugely confusing ecotourism, responsible tourism, sustainable tourism, regenerative tourism, green. I mean, I could just go on and on and spend an hour giving you different terms. But I think the key thing is, is that all sustainability is a term gets thrown around, you know, I want a sustainable business, I want a sustainable lifestyle. does that really mean? And you know, that the, the, there’s many definitions, but I would say the one that I follow is that there needs to be a balance. And so it doesn’t really matter if it whatever term you use, but we all as human beings need to become more responsible with our consumption, as well as with our behavior. And if we can make things more sustainable, I don’t think that travel or anything else will ever become totally sustainable, because it’s a journey, right? It’s not a destination. But we all whether you’re a business, whether you’re a government, whether you’re an individual, we can all do better, and we can all leave places better than we found them. And we all have a responsibility. To do that, rather than this hedonistic view, I would say that we have a right to go somewhere and consume, and we consume enough in our own lives. And this isn’t even, you know, discussing about how much food you eat at home, or how if you leave your lights on, but when we’re traveling, I feel that that’s even more of a privilege. And so we need to do things better. And that that’s where I’ll leave it because sustainability truly, if you do it right is about is about making is, you know, having a balance between the economic, the environmental and the socio cultural elements to technically leave a place better than you found it should be our goal.
And this, this next term, I see thrown around in a lot of articles and stuff, but the idea of overtourism
Yeah, and you know, what, for someone who says that they hate the, you know, the colloquialism of all these terms, I’m actually a bit guilty, because I remember when we wrote a book about over tourism, it was a term that really got government’s attention. Nobody likes that term, especially if you’re a destination manager, or you’re in the tourism industry, they’re like, Oh, my goodness, it just means people immediately think of, of crowds and negativity and things like that. But over tourism, essentially, is when a destination is overwhelmed. So it doesn’t have to be a particular size or type of destination. But when local quality of life, the place can’t handle the number of people in it, and therefore it degrades the experience, the the environment, the place around. So it could be issues like crowding, but not necessarily because I’ve been in lots of crowds, and I wouldn’t say it’s over tourism, you go to a festival, and there’s crowds. So it’s not just one element, it’s when the place is really deteriorating, because the number of of tourists who are there, and it happened more and more, but it also gets a lot of government attention. And for the first time, I think when people started to use the word over tourism, it the issues of sustainability had been around for decades. But when we started to use that term, especially in sort of 2019, then in COVID, everyone’s like, Oh, over tourism is over. We said no, I think it’s just on hiatus. It’ll come back fast and furious. We’re in 2023. And definitely, it’s now being thrown around again. Yeah, it’s that we are really not taking into consideration, local residents point of view or the environment of places we visit. And when over tourism came about local residents all of a sudden started to raise their voices. And of course, it becomes a voting issue. And that’s when politicians get involved. And so for me, I’m quite pleased that that term has come about because finally it’s getting a bit of attention. Whereas when we said there’s a need for more sustainability, you know, things are getting degraded, there’s environmental issues, it just became passe. But when it becomes a voting issue, things happen. So people that term I’m glad.
Well, I think, like I think overtourism has that very specific thought to it. Like it’s like you said sustainable, like it’s so sustainability in anything is over use that people sort of don’t listen to it, but when, you know, they start talking about Venice and overtourism from from cruise ships, and it’s it’s a really terrible
negative connotation. Right. And sometimes I think it is a bit leading. Right you there was some there was just a great article that, you know, you come up with all these extremist notions when it comes to over tourism, which is probably not true, but at the same time it’s getting people’s attention Sometimes I feel like you need to swing to the other side of the pendulum before you come back to the middle.
So are there any other terms or concepts that sort of go provide definition into, you know what we’re talking about that people need to know, or
I think you’ll hear lots of them. I think if you’re a business owner, then responsibility tends to be a little bit easier to get your head around. Whereas these days, the media loves regenerative. But I always say it’s great right? Regenerative means you should leave somewhere better than you found it. But if you’re a three star decaying beach, on a, on a beach that’s eroding, it’s pretty hard to make that regenerative. So I feel like there’s contextual issues, I just feel like we, I would ideally hope that this the word tourism doesn’t have to have greener, responsible or sustainable in front of it, and we just all do a better job of, of the actual practice itself.
That’s a that’s a great point that it just becomes part of tourism for for everyone involved. So I know you’ve traveled to over 80 countries, which is amazing. And why did you Why what makes you like, why is travel so impactful on our lives?
Oh, I’m a bit addicted, I think. But I also have a very large carbon footprint, which isn’t something maybe to be proud of, at, I think when you start to travel, it’s really it can be really transformative. So whether you, you know, you meet new people, when I’ve told many a person on a bus, you know, my life story of something that I would probably never tell my close friends at home, there’s there’s a little bit you just kind of feel liberal and free when you’re traveling, possibly. It’s why we get into trouble as well. And we do things that we would never do at home when we’re traveling. It also I think it gives us an understanding of how other people are right? You know, my, if you’ve met somebody in a different culture in a different language and had a connection with them, you’re far less likely to be judgmental or ignorant of something when you see something in news or something else later. I mean, I remember going to Israel in the 90s. And coming back, and then there was something on the news. And I said that’s that’s just not true, right? That’s totally sensationalized. And here’s why. And, you know, this is pulled footage from somewhere that’s actually not even there. And I feel like that kind of an understanding is, is I have context. Now when I’ve gone to different places, and I have maybe a connection to the place of where I’ve been, and maybe some people there or even particular destination I’ve seen in those countries, and therefore I’m emotionally attached to it. And so if something goes wrong, I’m probably more likely to help out. If I hear of something, I’m more likely to stay in touch. But also, I think I’d become a little bit less insular, in my thinking, by no means am I perfect, I have a lot to learn. But I would say that travel has given me an education that you can’t get out of a book. And to quote someone who I can’t remember, which is terrible, I should give them credibility for the quote, but they said, you can learn as much between the polls as you do between your ears. And I thought that’s so true. And, and I also think that a lot of times, we’ll say, I’ve done that country. And I and I say it in quotation marks, even though you can’t see me is because we haven’t done anything. I mean, I’ve said, Oh, I’ve been to over 80 countries, but have I really because I think I’ve been to France about 100 times now. And I would say I don’t know what at all, and I’ve even lived there twice, and I still don’t know it at all. So we don’t, we’ve never really done a country, we’ve been to a country, we’ve experienced a country. But I think that that’s something else that you realize, the more you travel, the more you realize, you just don’t know anything, which is actually kind of liberating.
It really is. And you you realize, I think the thing we’ve I take away is that we have so much more in common with people than different like we, in the summer of 2018, we did a trip to China, mainland China, with a group and like just the experiences and the people we met and got to know and like you said, coming home and you hear stuff or like no, that’s not the that’s some people, that’s the government that’s not the people like it’s you do you become very protective of, of people that you meet in other countries.
Yeah, and I mean, sure, there’s some people who just go to the same all inclusive resort of the same cruise every single year. And I would really, you know, suggest to the listeners that that’s not really travel, that’s kind of you know, traveling in a box. It’s kind of like going to McDonald’s and say that you have a wonderful sense of cuisine. But when you when you tend to travel, not only do you experience more about other people. But I think you also become a little bit more understanding about yourself as well, and that there are differences and that we accept those differences and we become a bit more chilled out as well. And so that, you know, because we’re all different, we’re actually pretty much the same, right? Because we’re all people at the end of the day and I feel like there’s a lot of there’s a lot of hatred going on in the world that I think is only getting worse, and we’re becoming more and more insular in our thinking, because we surround ourselves with people who think like us. And when you’re traveling, if you go to an all inclusive, you’re probably surrounding yourself with similar types of people. But when you, I love to just arrive and figure it out when I get there, and lots of times, there’s all sorts of disasters, but they become the best stories or the funniest moments, or you realize that, you know, if the bus doesn’t come, the bus doesn’t come in there, you can freak out all you want, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Right? And it gives you a sense of I think, patience, and understanding, or whether it’s cultural, or, or just societal or self understanding gives you an understanding that you actually have no control. And we’re very tiny people in this big universe that we call the world. And it’s humbling, I think,
yeah, I agree. I think that’s the biggest thing I bring home is just like, Oh, I feel very small in the world, but also very, it’s very cool to have those connections with with people as well. I, and with the traveling and, you know, I, we’re a theme park, we’re Disney World family. And so, you know, I, I loved in your book, which I know, is you prefaces for kids, but anyone out there should get? Are we there yet? Traveling more responsibly with your children, and I will link to it in the show notes. Because there’s so much good information in there. And even just, you know, things to do that you can control on on trips. And so I think it’s just so you know, I don’t want to contribute to over tourism and things as much as possible. But, you know, how do we still travelled to the places that we want to experience even if they’re popular? But do it in in that responsible way that supports the area? Or, you know, what, what can we do today, on our next trip?
Well, it’s funny, because I was just when you said we’re Disney Family, and I took my daughter to Disneyland last year, because I thought I’d better go and see what it’s all about. And I was actually thinking to myself, you know why? And I actually wrote a few emails, I didn’t get any responses. Funny that so if anyone who works at Disney is listening, you’ll know that I sent emails, but I thought, if Disney is the epitome of where every person wants to go at least once, or they want to take their kids or maybe if they don’t have kids, it really doesn’t matter. It’s this icon of of a destination road trip. But I also thought Disney has this amazing responsibility to do things better. And if that’s our bar of where we start, where we line up for two hours to be entertained by 15 seconds to then go line up for two hours, again, to be entertained by 15 seconds, which technically is what Disneyland is all about. But they do it in such a way that people say it’s the happiest place on earth, or it’s so amazing. Where’s the responsibility of Disney to say actually, you know what, bring your own water bottle, which I did. And my daughter didn’t want to drink out of the water bottle because the water was number one, it was warm, and it tasted disgusting out of the fountains. And the fountains were few and far between. And I thought it’s hard to make a better choice when it’s difficult. Whereas if it’s convenient, like it’s very easy to find a garbage can or recycling container and Disney because they put them every three feet based on behavioral needs it that makes it really interesting. And so I think after going to Disney was when I said to my co author, do you want to write this with me? And the reason why he wrote I said because I have one child. So I’m certainly not the I’m not the the expert on the topic. He has seven grandchildren. So I figured like he was going to be he was going to add the credibility to this. And you’re totally right the book was is for everyone. We just decided that there hasn’t been a lot done on Family Travel. And we wanted to focus on the nieces and the nephews, the grand carrot kids etc. is we just need to do one thing, right? If we all do one thing better, whether it’s traveling offseason, if you have the opportunity, if you don’t have kids, you can travel whenever you want. If you have kids, you’re often bound by school holidays, and it makes it more difficult and also more expensive. But we can make one choice to be better. And we should celebrate that one choice. And maybe when we feel good about making that one choice, we might make two choices that are better next time. Or we might influenced our friends to do one thing differently, whether that’s bring your own water bottle or donate to charity, or help someone who’s in need or, you know, choose a different destination to share your money staying in the local community. There’s millions of things you can do. But for me, I feel like we are so privileged for those of us in the world who have the ability to travel we have a responsibility to make it better number one so that if we go back to the place it’s not wrecked. And for what about anyone else who wants to go back? I mean, if you’re a parent you think of your children. But maybe not every parent does but I am always thinking oh, I hope that I can show my daughter this and it’s still like it was when I remembered it. And I don’t know I for me I get really excited about this and really passionate about the topic is because I just feel that we can do one thing. And we should celebrate, doing better rather than always criticize everyone for doing worse. And that’s where I feel the climate argument. And the environmental movement in general has been all about criticism. And I think people are switching off everywhere, because they’re tired of being told they’re bad. So maybe, if we said, you know, what, do one thing and celebrate the fact you’ve done one thing, and that’s great, then we feel better about ourselves, and maybe we’ll encourage better behavior and step by step will change the world.
Exactly. So I love that. So bring your own water bottle, I try to travel on non not super busy times off times off peak, my brain stopped functioning off peak times, I’m a, I mean, is there. If to add to those, you know, those are simple things are there like two or three other simple things that people can add to that that are there’s
loads, if you don’t have to fly to fly, I mean, your your your carbon emissions from one long haul flight is pretty much the same as driving a car for an entire year. So that’s key. But also, you know, were rewarded with frequent flyer miles for taking the most segments for the most flights. Whereas Actually, your carbon emissions are much lower. If you take a direct flight Plus, you’re less jet lagged, etc, you know, take carry on luggage, I never lose my luggage now, because I always carry carry on plus, it’s less weight for the plane. And I mean, it doesn’t really make a difference. And I realized even with carry on now, I mean, to be fair, lots of people struggle with packing, I get that, but I don’t even use it, everything in my carry on luggage. Because when you realize, you know, the first time I went backpacking, I got great advice from a friend, they said, I can’t put all this stuff in one backpack. And they said, put everything you want on your bed, and then half it and then half it again, oh, you’ll still have too much stuff. And if you can’t use everything in your backpack at least three times. So like the little black dress or whatever, you could wear it for dinner, but you can put a sweater over it and it looks like a skirt or whatever, you can use it as beach cover up. If you’re only going to use something once, don’t bring it because it’s a waste of space. And actually, that advice still stands for me. Now when I’m traveling for work, I bring a bunch of scarves with me so that I can wear the same, you know, sweater or shirt with a different scarf. And I look like I have different outfit. And I also don’t break my back with a big massive suitcase and 24 pairs of shoes. You know, so I am elated there’s a little bit of self preservation going on there too. But there’s really, you know, there’s easy things you can do bring your own water bottle, it struggling now after COVID I used to bring my coffee cup everywhere and 90% of the places I go still won’t let me have a coffee cup. And most of the time you even get a disposable coffee cup when you stay in a restaurant. I mean, that kind of stuff really drives me crazy. Because nobody, people I you know, but I recycle was like yeah, but did you know that less than 9% of what gets goes in the recycling bin gets recycled. It’s just not, it’s not enough. So I would say take it a step further, you can look when you can Google search. And you can add to Google for the lowest cost and it sends you an email. But it also tells you the most carbon efficient way to travel, you can travel off season, you can take less luggage, you can choose a responsible tour operator, when you’re in destination instead of going to McDonald’s because it’s easy. And you know what it’s like, try some local food. I mean, if you’re if you’re too afraid, and you don’t want to go on eat on the streets. Fair enough. But there’s lots of times that you can go to places that at least the money is going to stay in the local economy. And it’s super easy to book locally owned places these days, there’s really no excuse. It’s not about brand names. You’ve got Expedia or booking.com or pagoda at your fingertips tips on your mobile phone. You know which ones are local, just the ones you don’t recommend? And you know, you can even go by reviews, but slowly but surely those sites are also telling you which ones are are more environmentally responsible. And if you just make the choice once feel good about it. Right? Yeah. Make sure your stuffs not, you know, I don’t know, I always think it’s so amazing. I go somewhere and I want a souvenir. I don’t buy that many souvenirs now. But my daughter, of course is at that age she wants to. And I said just look at the back. And if you can find something that’s not made in Taiwan or China, then I might be willing to buy it for you. Because if it’s made somewhere that it’s not where you are, why would you buy it? Right? So even that kind of little tiny things about eating in a local restaurant, buying locally made souvenirs making sure that some of your money is actually benefiting some of those people who live in that destination. You know, they’re all great. And I could give you a huge long list on my website, sustainable tourism.net There’s a few tips and they’re they’re pretty basic. Yeah, but easy.
So and that that’s what I was so impressed about with your site and your information is you know, one you’re you’re not telling people like travels bad because of it you like still travel, but here are very easy things to implement into Your, your routine when you travel to to make it, you know, more responsible. And I love the concept of well, not concept, but I never thought about the fact that finding the local tours and the local places to stay and keeping that money. Local is, you know, you said like Expedia is is that the best way to find out? If a company is local? Or if it’s a, you know, conglomerate like how, how are the resources to find out? No,
I mean, there’s lots of different sites. I mean, you can do eco b&b Instead of Airbnb, or you can do fare b&b. And it shows you all the ones that are the money is staying in the local economy. I mean, they’re just websites that are spin offs, green hotels instead of booking.com has one so I mean, I know we’re creatures of convenience, human beings. And we like the easiest things. And so we’ll go to the main sites, and or we’ll just type it into Google. And honestly, you know, the amount of people that click on the sponsored ads, because they haven’t got past the first three links, is why they’re sponsored ads out there, because we are creatures of convenience, and we just do the easiest thing possible. But even I mean, if you’re looking to go on a tour and see you’ve never been I don’t know, you’ve never been somewhere before and you want to go on a tour because you’re afraid to go by yourself. Rather than booking a cruise. Or an all inclusive, you could go to responsible travel.com. And it will it has rated every single possible operator on every type of trip that you want to do and tell you the most responsible option. Okay? I mean, you don’t, you don’t even have to do your homework anymore. They’ve done it for you. But I would say, you know, you’re not going to I can’t tell people to never cruise again, I don’t like it for a myriad of reasons. But if you shouldn’t feel guilty, because you’re gonna go on a cruise, but maybe you spend an extra day on the other outside of your cruise, and you stay in somewhere that’s, you know, or you make sure that you donate to a local, nonprofit or charity when you’re in that destination, even if you don’t do anything else, because then you know that you’re helping something, or you make sure that your souvenirs are actually made in the place rather than made or owned by the cruise operator. You know, there’s, it doesn’t really matter what type of traveler you are, where you go, you can always do something better, right? Buy the book for someone else if you really want to, because all 100% of the proceeds, if we make any are gonna go to World Animal Protection. Oh, excellent. We’re not in you know, I think one of the things that becomes a meme and I’m a bit manic, maybe, but I don’t want to make money off something if it’s going to make a place better. I have a job. That’s what pays me money. You know, no one is ever gonna get rich off writing a book. No, but unless, unless, of course you’re you know, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, but I couldn’t really name very many who are who are successful authors. And I think the people why why people get excited about something or why we decide to write a book is we wanted to make a change. And there’s a very different thing. And why we travel I think is because we want a change of scenery. So it’s not that different. We just want escapism, but we want something different, or we just are exhausted, we need a break. But imagine if we got all that plus we did something better for someone else. That’s kind of like, win win.
Exactly. I mean, are there any, you know, any activities or tours that people need to? Absolutely not absolutely stay away from but maybe framed as okay, but probably not like?
I don’t Yeah, there’s a lot. And I think that’s the same thing. So that’s a really good point is you can make lots of small movements or actions to make things better, but you can also not do things which are going to make a huge thing. So number one, I think my biggest pet peeve is don’t swim with dolphins. I mean, it may look like an amazing experience. But if you think dolphins belong in the wild, they don’t belong in a eight by eight swimming pool for the for their entire lives. And so things like SeaWorld or any of these animal experiences where you’re watching animals perform for you as a human. Imagine if you or your children were being forced to perform for someone else. I mean, it’s just so wrong on so many levels. And so I think we want to have experiences with wildlife because we’ve never done it. But if a bear is being if you’re petting a bear or a tiger, chances are it’s drugged because it’s a wild animal. And so just by that notion, take a second to think and think is this is this cruel or is this you know, is this equitable for the animal? And so riding elephants is just a no no swimming with dolphins is a no no. Petting Tigers or or picking up koala bears or whatever the experience is. They they exist because you they can make money from you. And if you say no, you vote with your wallet and that behavior stops. I would say you know never buy things made of, of wild animals don’t eat turtle nest soup. You know that that kind of stuff. If someone’s giving you some amazing failsafe. That sounds too good to be true. The old saying goes, it’s probably too good to be true Exactly. As for I don’t like cruises, generally, smaller adventure ships and smaller ships are much better. But just an amazing stat for you is that on an average cruise, for example, if you’re going on a Caribbean cruise, the average person, the cruise ship prepares 12 pounds of food per person per day. And they may not eat all that. But the rest of it is goes out the back on as fish food, which also affects the marine equilibrium and the natural consistency of the water. So it’s destroying it. The most cruise ships are, are registered in developing countries where the environmental regulations are not the same. And so the environmental impact can be awful or people in some all inclusive and on cruise ships, they don’t get paid, they depend on your tips because they’re not bound by the same regulations that you were I might be bound by. And so that kind of stuff, I think really drives me crazy, is that we go on a trip and we’re like, it’s cheap, it’s great. I just want to get away, I deserve it. Because I’ve worked so hard. Without the thought of the person serving, you may be working a 14 hour a day shift for $1 a day, that is busting in three hours, and doesn’t get to see their family and they’ve got a smile on their face plastered on their face being amazing to you, because they’re so dependent on your tips, that they are not even making a living wage, that kind of stuff is what I think in the tourism industry or we as tourists never consider. And that’s an that’s a negative, nasty thing. And people don’t want to hear about it. So they just switch off. Right. But I do think sometimes that being aware of of that you can do something different. Or you can actually check. You know, if there’s a sustainability policy on your all inclusives website. It is that’s great. If you can’t find one, chances are they don’t have one. And so even if you just switch to a supplier that is talking about it, that’s better than nothing at all.
And that that brings me there’s this concept of greenwashing where people are sort of saying companies are saying they’re doing stuff but but not like, can you sort of talk about that a moment?
Yeah, greenwashing is alive and well. Partially because we are all consumers. And so people love to charm the nickels and dimes out of people’s pockets. And they’ll say whatever we want to believe. Sometimes I feel like a quick search can can do the job. And for sure, some companies are saying things, and they’re not. And they’re not doing anything. But there’s also a lot of people who are trying. And so when a company is is outlining, instead of I guess this goes the same thing, instead of criticizing all the time, we need to encourage and so if a company is saying, we’re on a, we’re on a journey to try and be better, and so therefore we’re trying to eliminate plastic water balls. You know, sometimes my cynical self says, yeah, really seriously, you’re, you’re a huge company. And that’s all you’re doing. That’s not enough. And then the other part of me switches in and says, well, at least they’re starting. And sometimes starting is, is better than nothing else. And maybe they’re greenwashing but then maybe we just ask a couple questions. I mean, I often go to the front desk, when I stay in a hotel, because in the hotel is everyone knows, it’s like, please, we’re going to save the environment. Therefore, hang up your towels, I’m thinking how is that going to save the environment, it’s gonna save the hotel a ton of money if they don’t have to wash their towels every day. But then miraculously, you know, just out of habit I was brought up, I don’t change my towels every day at home, I change it once a week, I hang it up and the next day I come back or I come back after after being at work so and my Tao is brand new. Because the transformation or the information hasn’t gone all the way down to the housekeeping department. And I usually go down to the front desk and I say just FYI, I saw this wonderful session on your thing, but I got a new towel. Could you please make sure it goes all the way through to your housekeeping. And usually the person at the front desk is flabbergasted that I would bring it up. And then I usually write a review about it. Because it’s so easy these days. You know, as I’m walking to the train station, I’m like on my phone banging into pause because I never look where I’m going. And I said isn’t it interesting that this hotel had a great towel reuse policy, but it wasn’t true. And that alone generates ton of traffic. Even if you’re not a big traveler people read reviews, but they only ever read the bad ones or the really good ones. And so if you have a complaint about something, I mean, I sometimes take a picture and say why are you giving me a plastic straw? I thought we were past this point. Post a picture of it. And bingo, right? All of a sudden when somebody searches that restaurant, they see that comment about this restaurant, you know, gives plastic straws, but it only takes one or two people right to point it out to stop the greenwashing going on so for sure greenwashing is alive and well but we have a duty to make you know, maybe giving them the benefit of the doubt but if if they are doing something And then we can see it. Call it up all night. You’d call out on your partner if they were cheating on you. So why not call out a hotel if they’re greenwashing?
Exactly? That’s a that’s a great point. Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the greatest takeaway from this is, is this conversation is, there’s little things everyone can do every day, let alone when traveling that, you know, we can we can really make a difference and keep those places nice and sacred, as you know, for for generations behind us.
Yeah. And you know, the funny thing is, is I mean, I go through phases, because I work in this space, and I’ve worked in a long time. And some days, I’m like, I can’t do anything. I’m one person. And I make no difference in the world. And I’m just a peon. And we go down this road of saying, if governments aren’t going to pick up or big businesses aren’t going to do their part. You know, why do I even bother? And that’s a pretty valid point. But at the same time, I think after a few days of, you know, wallowing in self pity and cynicism, I come back to the idea of, well, if I don’t do anything, then how can I ever call out anyone else? Right, and, and so I am really, really hoping with all these crisises, we go through that, you know, you’ve got to walk a step before you can run, you’ve got to sit up before you can stand, we go from zero to 100, that we have to solve the climate crisis tomorrow. But in reality, like we humans have gotten rid of CFCs. You know, we’ve we’ve done major strides on global education and global poverty, which human species can actually be pretty good when we set our mind to it. But we have to start, right. And that’s the thing is that I think we’re too, we love being and I’m no exception, we like to complain, rather than really to complain about the problem rather than solve the problem. So I come back to what my father said to me, you choose to be part of the solution or part of the problem. And if you’re not being part of the solution, chances are you’re part of the problem.
I agree. So that everyone listening, take that away. If you’re not, don’t
feel guilty about it, right. Just one thing,
right? Yeah, I mean, don’t don’t cancel your trip, or do anything. This is just, you know, do next trip, look a little more or take your water bottle. And you
know what I will say something like ever, I think a lot of people, especially Americans, just as a generalization will go to Disney or will go on a cruise or right. That’s the kind of stuff that we get marketed to in North America in general. And of course, I’m in Canada, and it’s cold for quite a lot of the time. We, you know, we searched the sun and the all inclusive package is really appealing. Or the cruise is really appealing, or Disney is really appealing. And don’t feel guilty about that. But also, I’d say just try something else. I mean, I think I probably would never would have gone kayaking, until my father took us on a kayaking trip. And I was petrified and I got dumped, you know, on the first day, and then I realized it wasn’t so bad. And now I love kayaking, but I never would have I never would have known if I liked it unless I’d experienced it. So those adventure holidays that look scary, but super amazing. Cost less half the time than actually going to Disney. Right? What do you think Disney is at least 100 US dollars a day per person that’s not even including your accommodation or your food. That’s, that’s just that’s what I mean you put that into a week and add all those things you can pretty much do any trip in the world that your heart desires and not feel and if you’re too scared to do it alone, go with a tour operator and you can choose a responsible tour operator. And you may decide that it’s even better than Disney you might not but you might and so I’d say sometimes you just need to try.
Right I think that’s great advice and I really appreciate the the insight and information now I’m gonna change it I’m gonna do like a complete one ad on you. And sure and give you the top give you a pop quiz that I give every guest some fun, fun questions at the end. Do you have a favorite road trip a snack or a snack you’d like to take on a trip with you
Yes, I mean I think the chocolate is a food group so I would probably say chocolate but I find popcorn actually can be super messy. So that used to be my favorite, my favorite trick but I I like to think that I bring carrots and all that kind of stuff but I’m not always great I would say I always chocolate is happy chocolate and coffee are always make my day better. And then if I have my daughter with me I always bring something healthy as well.
Well you know road trip calories don’t count in my book. So it’s it’s all good.
And a water bottle actually that’s probably my biggest thing is I always find that you assume there’s going to be something to drink. And I am Oh my my my my husband and my daughter are always drinking out of my waterfall because I’m the only one who ever brings it.
We are very I have to share that that when we went to visit Family in Italy years ago, we bought water bottles with UV filters on the top. Oh, amazing. And those things go everywhere with us, like, we can drive down there, like, doesn’t matter that so we can hit tap water anywhere, run the UV filter on it and it tastes better. Yeah, it tastes better. And that’s, that’s like, you know, we’re going on a trip because someone pulls it out and it goes into the suitcase. So there’s easy ways to take water bottles and still have good tasting water out there.
Well, I also think, you know, it’s funny because I don’t I don’t even know if I do it for an environmental reason anymore. But I always have my water bottle also on a flight is because it drives me nuts that they go up and down the aisles with these plastic cups, and then you have no equipment when they crack and you end up cutting your fingers on them. Or, you know, you spill the excess water on your computer or your book. And so I’m always just I hold up my water bottle and the the the the flight attendant always gives me a funny look and basically empties their entire bottle into my bottle. And I’m like, thank you. I won’t bother you again for a few more hours. So
I know they’re so small. I know you just got back from a trip but do you have a plan? Let’s go vacation. Let’s not count business trips. Do you have a planned trip? Vacation?
Ah, yeah, we’re thinking of actually going to Bella Coola and taking the ferry to Vancouver Island. So on the west coast of Canada. British Columbia is the westernmost province and Vancouver Island is off it there’s supposedly the roads aren’t great. So I have to do a bit of research. But we’re thinking of doing a sort of circle to circle from Vancouver and going up past all these horse ranches and big mountains and cliffs and then take the ferry which is supposedly as great as doing the Inside Passage on a cruise which I of course, as you know, don’t love cruises. And you do the ferry and it’s a 12 hour ferry rides. So my other thing that I bring is always a pack of cards because I know that 12 hours ferry is a long way to go. But it’s supposed to. And then you go to the northern tip of Vancouver Island where you might drive down so we might do a road trip. And it’s the pictures are astounding. And so the more I look at it, the more I’m a bit hyped. Otherwise, I’ll just put on the cabin. I have a cabin on an island and Oh, me, that’s my switch off place.
Yeah, perfect. What has been your favorite vacation trip ever? I know that this is gonna be really hard because you’ve traveled so
much. Oh, yeah, I don’t know if I could. But I have a couple favorite countries. I just came back from Vietnam. And I had been there twice before. And I still love it. There’s something very appealing about Southeast Asia. It’s just different, and unique, and busy and loud and crazy, all at the same time. But it’s just very different. And same as Japan, I love the fact that Japan doesn’t try to be like anywhere else. It’s just Japan. I really appreciate because more and more I find not so much when I was younger, and I backpacked a lot when I was in, you know, in my in my teens and my 20s. But now I find I go somewhere and everything looks the same or the same shops. You know, it’s like the Disneyfication of the world is Starbucks and, and Burger King are everywhere. It’s kind of like it doesn’t matter if you’re on top of Kilimanjaro in Africa, or Ketu. In Pakistan, you can still find KitKat and Coca Cola, which was always the joke, but now everything’s the same. And so I think I love Japan because Japan is very Japanese and they don’t really try to be anybody except for Japanese. And it’s just different. And I love that.
Yeah, there that’s that’s up on my top dream list right now is Japan.
And it wasn’t as expensive as I thought it was going to be. That’s the interesting thing too. I always discounted Japan is oh my goodness, I’m going to have to be like a millionaire before I go there. And we went for a month. The only thing I wish I’d learned is the Japanese word for playground because my daughter was just about to turn three. And we spent an inordinate amount of time in Japanese playgrounds but also met quite a lot of Japanese people that we normally never would have talked to you because we had a child in a playground. So there’s, you know, there’s positives and negatives kinds of things.
It’s so fun. Last question, who is on who or what is on your travel playlist? Are you a music or podcast or audio book? What’s on that travel playlist?
Oh, I’m musically illiterate. But I would have to say that I think there’s songs. So I was I was watching where it was I was the other day and I heard the clash. And it brought me right back to when I was traveling when I was 19. So I have to say and Jim Croce to I used to do road trips from Vancouver to Calgary, again in Canada, which is a 12 hour trip and I have driven across the country in Canada. So anyone who’s from the United States knows but anyone who’s not from the United States or Canada has no recollection. It was kind of like driving from the UK to Russia on a regular basis. And I would listen to with my sister at the time when we would try we always had Jim Croce playing on the radio and I remember going to San Diego in my 20 He’s I think for a weekend I’m not sure why. And there was a Jim Croce bar. And I didn’t even know who Jim Croce wasn’t I, it was the best night of my life. And, you know, I think I was quite young to be listening. It’s kind of old music. And all these people in this bar, were laughing because I was singing along having such a grand time, because I knew all these songs, because I’ve listened to them for 37 hours in a row. So I would say that if somebody puts that on the radio or on a playlist, I immediately I’m happy to drive.
Right. That’s good to know.
Yeah, not everyone’s cup of tea, but I wouldn’t take music advice for me if I were you.
That’s okay. It’s, it’s interesting, because people have very different that I feel like a lot of people that I talked to go old, like, go back to songs from their youth or some kind of experience for when I
actually think about it. I’m Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. That soundtrack is an amazing road trip soundtrack. Possibly, because a lot of the lyrics, you know, go west, or whatever you write, it’s just, it’s just dating me now. That’s all.
Not at all. Thank you so much for your time, this has been very great and informative. And I hope people take that one takeaway of just, you know, start doing one or two little things on that next trip. And, you know, maybe we can maybe we can save the world.
I hope so we got to be better off being positive. But thank you so much for having me on. And, and taking me down the sort of memory lane of some of the places that we’ve been, and reminding me, I think we can all do more, but we just need to start somewhere. So thank you for that. And happy to share any information and, you know, connect with me or find me on Twitter or LinkedIn or any of these crazy social media sites, which I need to spend less time on.
Yes, and I will put all I’ll put links to your site and book and stuff in the show notes as well. So I appreciate that
wonderful. And and if if anyone does read the book, and they want to write a review, that would be lovely. And feedback is always is always appreciated. Good and bad. All right. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Thanks again to Rachel for sharing her expertise. After this episode, I hope we can all pledge to change at least one thing. When we travel to be more responsible travelers, please head over to the show notes on the website at the roaming yeti.com to find links to follow Rachel and get a link to purchase her book. Are we there yet traveling more responsibly with your children? Thank you for listening. I hope these episodes inspire you to get out and roam even in your own neighborhood. Please subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes. And if you like what we’re doing here, please leave a review and a rating. Also to help support us please head to Yeti to shop.com to pick up some roaming Yeti merch, talk to you soon and keep roaming.