Monthly Archives: January 2011

Local Travel – Values To Take On The Road

Local Travel. It is a simple concept that most people can understand. You can apply it to local travel within your own community, as well as traveling like a local to destinations outside of your home base.

I recently came across the Local Travel Movement blog, through my connections with WHL, an e-marketplace for local accommodation providers.  While reading about the Local Travel Movement, I discovered their Local Travel Values (as shown below):

  • If you are mindful of the local people, you put yourself in the locals’ shoes and discover what they really think.
  • If you are mindful of the local environment, you put yourself in the heart of it, feel its beauty and power, and do what you can to preserve it for the future.
  • If you are mindful of the local culture, you put yourself in the local mindset and share in activities and experiences as locals do.
  • If you are mindful of the local economy, you put your money into local business and ensure that your tourism benefits the right people.

These are exactly the type of travel values I would deem appropriate for supporting sustainable tourism. With all of the different sustainable tourism terminology out there, that I mentioned before, it can be confusing for a new traveler to know how to travel the “best” way. But, the concept of Local Travel seems to fit the bill perfectly.

My challenge to you: keep these Local Travel values on hand and put them into practice when you plan and embark upon your next vacation. You may be surprised to find your travel experience more fulfilling and meaningful than ever before.

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Sustainable Travel? There’s An App For That

There seems to be an app for everything these days. From different knock off versions of scrabble, to camera effect apps that make you and your nearest and dearest look fat, old, and/or bald.

So I was thinking, if there is an app to make you bald, there must be an app, or multiple apps, that can aid you in making more sustainable travel choices on your next vacation or weekend excursion.

I dug around the internet searching for mobile apps that might help the average traveler participate in sustainable tourism and found these 3 gems: LocalEats, Green Travel Choice, and World Customs and Cultures. Combined, these apps will help you cover all the bases of sustainable travel: supporting the local economy, supporting the environment, and supporting the local community and culture.

LocalEats – This app is hosted by www.WheretheLocalsEat.com. It is a great resource to find the best eats in town while supporting the local communities economy. The purpose behind the website and app is that it promotes local eateries in cities as opposed to large chain establishments. By supporting local businesses, you are supporting the local economy, as opposed to giving your money to international investors who are less likely to be connected to the communities they do business with. Favorite App Feature: The app has a ‘search nearby’ function. So, as long as your phone has GPS functionality, LocalEats can identify where you and produce a list of all the best local eats options in your immediate area.

Green Travel Choice – This is a pretty simple app that calculates and tracks your total carbon emissions as you travel. You can enter your starting and ending point and the app will produce a chart for you listing what your carbon emissions will be for 9 different transportation choices. For example, if I were to travel from where I am sitting right now, in Davis, California, and go to New York City, these are the carbon emissions I would potentially produce:

  • Hiking/Biking – 0.0lbs
  • Train/Subway – 573.9 lbs
  • Bus – 684.6 lbs
  • Motorbike – 1167.8 lbs
  • Small Car – 1409.5lbs
  • Medium Car – 2114.2 lbs
  • Large Car – 2970 lbs
  • Medium Hybrid Car – 1761.8 lbs
  • Airplane – 1872.6

I think the most interesting result here is that taking an airplane to NYC creates almost the same carbon emissions as driving a hybrid to NYC. This is a great resource to help you realize how your travel choices affect the environment. This app, however, could improve itself by offering a carbon offsetting program where you can donate money to tree planting to offset  your carbon footprint. Favorite App Feature: By purchasing the Green Travel Choice app, you get a $15 discount code for membership to the International Ecotourism Society (TIES).

World Customs and Cultures – I recommend this app to any international traveler. The value get from this app is that it covers a huge variety of country specific customs and cultural eccentricities. By studying up on the country you are visiting ahead of time, you can save yourself from potentially embarrassing and/or rude interactions with the local people. Topics covered range from communication styles, to eye contact rules, to local taboos. There is also a great greeting component that goes over the expected greetings between different relationships with people: man/man, man/woman, etc. If you have ever been to Europe I am sure you have encountered the awkward “how many kisses do I give this person” moment. This app could have saved you from that experience. Favorite App Feature: The random button. Every time you hit it, it will tell you a random cultural custom or ritual from around the world. Example: In Cameroon, sometimes the forefinger and pinky are extended and used to mime Dracula teeth, making fun of someone for having bad teeth.

Those are my mobile app recommendations. What are yours? Do you use any apps that help you travel more sustainably? Make better choices in your everyday life? Get you more connected with your community or other communities?

Eat Local, Eat Cheap – California Restaurant Month

As I previously mentioned in my Sustainable Tourism post, part of traveling sustainably is supporting local economies. One of the most fun and self-indulgent ways to do this is through food. Particularly in California, where most of our food is locally sourced, eating out means you are supporting local agriculture, as well as local business owners. Additionally, visiting local eateries allows you to experience the local culture of a destination, by tasting their culinary delights.

The California Travel and Tourism Commission has decided to kick off the new year with California Restaurant Month.

So, what does this mean and why is it so cool? Let me tell you…

Throughout the month of January, cities and towns from Northern down to Southern California will be holding Restaurant Weeks. Each destination is doing it a little bit differently, but the underlying theme is that some of the best restaurants, cafes and bistros in California, for their designated week, will be offering discounted prix-fixe meals just for you. For 1 entire month you can enjoy the seasonal and local culinary concoctions of some of California’s best known chefs, but for a fraction of the price.

You can go to official California Restaurant Month website to see the list of participating cities, as well as the dates of their participation.

For those living in or near Sacramento, or just want a reason to come visit me, our Restaurant week starts TOMORROW! Dine Downtown runs from January 7-16. 30 of Sacramento’s best restaurants will be offering top class 3 course meals for just $30. To see who is participating, what the menus will look like, and to book your reservations in advance, go here.

So what about those of you not from California, or not planning to visit the sunshine state this month? Don’t worry! Many cities and states across the nation are planning similar events this month! Here are some examples. Check out your cities tourism board to see when they are hosting one.

Sustainable Tourism, What’s that?

Sustainable tourism…what on earth is it? Before taking a 3 month course on it in school, I had a very mishmashed understanding of it myself. I knew it had something to do with doing positive things whilst traveling. But really, how vague is that idea? Thankfully my understanding of sustainable tourism was corrected by my professor, Dr. Caroline Scarles, and I hope I can share some of my insights with you.

So, it is my mission, through this blog, to step up the discussion about sustainable tourism. To talk about what it means, what it looks like, how you can get involved in it, and how it can benefit you and others.

Therefore, before I get the 2011 posts started, I thought it would be a good idea to set everyone up with a base understanding of sustainable tourism.

First off, let’s talk about sustainability in general.

Sustainability, while a seemingly modern concept, is a rather old idea based on science: the capability of an organism to sustain itself. Easy enough.

Now let’s move on to 23 years ago when the term sustainable development was defined in the Brundtland Report in 1987. Also known at Our Common Future, the Brundtland Report defined sustainable development as:

“development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

To this day, this definition is still referenced.

Now, there are 3 areas, or environments, to which such sustainable development is supposed to consider: economic, environmental, and social. These are sometimes referred to as the Pillars of Sustainability or the Triple Bottom Line.

Have I lost you yet? I hope not. At this point you are probably thinking “but what does this have to do with tourism?” Well, the goal of developing sustainable tourism is to support the concept of sustainability, as referred to in the Brundtland Report, and support the Triple Bottom Line:

1) the consumption of resources in tourism should not compromise the ability of future generations to appreciate the same tourism resources

and

2) when developing sustainable tourism, it should take into account the economic, environmental, and social affects it will have on the area it is being developed. Some examples of these three categories in tourism are…

  • economic: does the tourism development benefit the economy of the locals in the destination it is being established?
  • environmental: how does increasing visitors to the destination affect the local environment? Can it still survive for future generations to enjoy?
  • social: is the local community’s culture and way of life positively or negatively affected by this tourism? Are they happy with it? Getting involved with it?

At this point I think I have given you enough to chew on for a bit. I will introduce more ideas in the weeks to come. Specifically, I will talk about some of the different forms of sustainable tourism that you may be more familiar with and how they fit under the umbrella of sustainable tourism, such as: Eco-Tourism, Green Tourism, Responsible Tourism, Ethical Tourism, Pro-Poor Tourism, Slow Travel, and Voluntourism.

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