January 13, 2021

Sustainability --- Responsible Travel -- Respectful Travel

I’m on a journey and I hope you’ll come along with me! 

I enthusiastically embrace that there is a pressing need to “fix” our ailing planet earth. I get it! And I sincerely want to be a part of repairing the damage done. I’m betting many of you feel the same way too. But, if you’re like me, you are totally confused by the many terms used to describe this urgent need. And until we understand the need, we’ll not be able to decide how to best be part of the solution. 

Experts in the field all use different lingo, different terms to define the problem. Frequently the terms they each use are related to their own personal interests, the part of the world they live in or to their specific professions (airplanes, farming, architecture, etc). I want to hear what they all say! But, if I’m constantly presented with different terms, it’ll only get harder and harder for me to see the big picture! I need some clarity! So, I am on a journey to make sense of the terms and related information that is “out there” about what’s happening to our planet and the life it supports. And then, hopefully, I’ll be able to make some good decisions about how I can be part of saving the planet. 

Again, I’m hoping you will come along with me on this journey!

Since Children’s Concierge straddles the education community and the travel community, I’ve chosen to begin with three be-kind-to-the-earth terms I’ve found to be batted around frequently in these two communities  

sustainability, responsible travel,

and respectful travel 

What do these terms actually mean? Are they all three describing the same thing? Or, if you want to support sustainability do you engage in one kind of behavior and then engage in another kind of behavior if you are passionate about responsible travel and then do you do something entirely different if respectful travel is in your soul? Is one of these more important than the other? I want to know!

So, here’s what I’m doing. First, I took some time and cleared my head much needed! 

Next,  I stole a really cool idea from the artist, Richard Serra*. I created a Verblist like he did only I used words and phrases instead of verbs. 

I call my version of Mr. Serra’s VerbList, a WordList – My Improving The Planet WordList. And in my WordList, I’ve been placing words that describe concepts and actions that seem to be associated with improving the health of our planet and life as we know it. Here’s where the terms sustainability, responsible travel and respectful travel come in. Each concept or action or definition or explanation I uncover has to be paired with one of these three terms. My hope is that if I take all the concepts, suggested actions, definitions  and explanations being discussed and assign them to one of these categories, I’ll be able to see the bigger picture; the greater whole. 

In that light, here is

My Improving the Planet WordList

The only order to things here is that I have assigned each word or phrase to the category to which I have most frequently heard it associated or, in a few cases, to the category into which I personally think it fits best.


words that seem to define sustainability

  • Carbon Zero
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Sourced locally
  • Buying carbon offsets
  • Restaurants & hotels that grow their own food
  • Getting rid of single-use plastics
  • Cleaning-up oceans and streams
  • Prevent runoffs 
  • Support scientific research into biodiversity 
  • Saving animals on the brink of extinction 
  • Preservation of historical buildings
  • Green buildings 
  • Recycling paper, clothes, furniture, machines – lots of things
  • Planting native trees
  • Re-directing water runoff
  • Using wind or solar power
  • Rooftop farming – even at airports 


words that seem to define responsible travel 

  • Take fewer but longer trips
  • Stay in locally owned and run hotels 
  • Buy crafts made locally
  • Don’t use plastic straws
  • Look for hotels and providers that support local projects
  • Walk to explore locally
  • Learn about and visit conservancies of interest
  • Be part of recycle all around the world.
  • Look for airlines investing in sustainable aviation fuel.
  • Carry a thermos instead of plastic bottles
  • Stay at hotels/resorts that oversee services (like health services) to local villagers
  • For each client that’s booked a local child’s schooling is paid for a year.
  • No buffets 
  • Turn down unnecessary packaging
  • Reduce paper waste
  • Control mass tourism – Consider visiting smaller, less traveled 
  • Destinations.


words that seem to define respectful travel

  • Explore the local culture 
  • Respect and embrace local customs
  • Purchase products made locally 
  • Local fees collected should go back into the local economy
  • Research programs providing education and training for self-sustaining employment 
  • Everywhere is part of our global community
  • Preserve local buildings
  • Preserve local customs
  • Hotels must pay fair wages
  • There should always be local profit
  • Strong sense of place 
  • Hotels that bottle their own water
  • Humane working conditions
  • Be respectful of the habitats of local animals
  • How does an area benefit from travelers
  • Demand humane treatment of animals 
  • Everyone has value
  • Don’t assume you know what the local people need
  • It’s a destination to you; but it’s home to someone
  • Don’t demand a Westerner’s view of everything
  • Have a positive effect on the local community visited
  • Have deeper relationships with the local community/destination
  • Consider the destruction travelers cause!!!

That’s it so far. That’s my list. But, I have much more to do on my journey!

My next step is to interview some of the people who are experts in saving our planet and get their thoughts on my Improving the Planet WordList. I’m really looking froward to learning from them!

Please do come along with me!