Being a Responsible Traveler

Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2016 by Ann Linnea

Mid-August and I’m back home on Whidbey Island bringing in garden bounty and kayaking in local waters after a 10-day vacation on Kaua’i with family—my partner, my daughter Sally, her partner Joe, our grandchildren, and also my sister Margaret and her family. We were a party of nine, ages ranging from 5 to 70.

Kauai's incredible coastline

Kauai’s incredible coastline

Sally as a stand up paddler on this year's trip

Sally as a stand up paddler on this year’s trip

When she was sixteen, I took Sally to Hawai’i in a special mother/daughter trip. She’s thirty-three now and has been wanting to take her family to Hawaii. The trip was a year in planning, including getting swimming lessons for five-year-old Sasha so we could all venture into the water safely. We wanted an opportunity to immerse ourselves in water sports in a place of cultural diversity with the young families in our lives.

Our nephew and grandchildren

Our nephew and grandchildren

We had an amazing time—truly appreciated the little fish that our grandchildren and nephew have become.  Loved living our days in awe of nature’s bounty— the rain forest where “houseplants” are “trees” and it can pour rain in bright sun and make rainbows—all at once. We loved the ocean where we saw dolphins, sea turtles and a remarkable variety of fish. I will never forget our collective squeals of delight when we saw a baby in the midst of a pod of spinner dolphins, or our awe seeing an endangered monk seal resting on the beach.

Tropical rain forest of Kaua'i in the rain!

Tropical rain forest of Kaua’i in the rain!

 

Endangered monk seal out of the water resting

Endangered monk seal out of the water resting

 

 

 

 

 

Despite all of this, I am keenly aware that our flights and visit came at a cost to the earth. So, our intention was take this trip as responsible travelers, not merely tourists. For me that means diving into an understanding of the place you are visiting and working to be a positive presence while being there.

 

We purposely chose to live in rural Kaua’i by renting a home in Hanalei.

Our Hanalei rental home

Our Hanalei rental home

We were responsible for trash and recycling. We were awakened by the ever-present feral roosters that start to crow in the wee hours of the morning. We cooked most of our own meals and shopped the local farmer’s market.

Shopping the farmer's market at Hanalei

Shopping the farmer’s market at Hanalei

 

 

 

 

Christina and Jaden preparing fresh fish

Christina and Jaden preparing fresh fish

 

When an activity required expertise, like a boat trip up the Napali Coast, we hired a local company.

Leaving on the Napali Sea Breeze from Anini Beach

Leaving on the Napali Sea Breeze from Anini Beach

 

 

 

 

Part of our family on the Napali coast snorkeling tour

Part of our family on the Napali coast snorkeling tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We practiced learning to read the waves and the weather so we could make wise decisions about which beaches to visit for snorkeling or boogie boarding.

The granny boogie boarders

The granny boogie boarders

We started our days with a circle of planning to gain input from everyone and we took lots of time to acknowledge stories and appreciation of what we were experiencing.

Our morning circle of check-in with animal cards

Our morning circle of check-in with animal cards

We attended a local, educational hula show hosted by the Kapa’a Cultural Center rather than a hotel luau.

Kapa'a Cultural Center Hula show

Kapa’a Cultural Center Hula show

We worked to know the names of some of the local flora and fauna. We all practiced saying the name of Hawaii’s state fish: humuhumunukunukuapua’a, the rectangular triggerfish, which we often saw while snorkeling.

Maku'ae'ae island a bird refuge near the Kilauea Light house

Maku’ae’ae island a bird refuge near the Kilauea Light house

All seven+ billion of us are one people making our home on one planet. Traveling helps us see beyond the borders of our own lives and interactions. It raises our tolerance and understanding of difference. It opens our minds and hearts to the wonder of the earth. It is a wonderful privilege. May we always use it wisely. What are some of the ways you practice being a responsible traveler?

Ann and Christina overlooking the Hanalei wildlife refuge with taro ponds

Ann and Christina overlooking the Hanalei wildlife refuge with taro ponds

 

 

 

 

 

4 responses to “Being a Responsible Traveler”

  1. Jude Rathburn says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of your family’s travels to Hawaii. One of the things I have learned from you and Christina (in Circle Practicums) is the importance of honoring the place where I am visiting, and also trying to understand some of its heritage/history. I also like to support the local economy when I travel and visit with local shop owners and crafts-people to hear their stories. And, as you mention, I recognize what a privilege it is to be able to travel and do what I can to minimize my impact on the local environment by recycling, minimizing use of water and other resources and expressing gratitude for the gifts I receive during my travels. With love from Milwaukee, WI – where we are struggling to come to find peaceful ways to heal what divides us. Jude

  2. Sara Harris says:

    Dear Granny Boarders,

    I love how thoughtfully you approached this…the idea that we leave an impact anyway, but of course we get to continually choose in the best ways possible where to shop, how to support local businesses, how to listen and know a region, how to talk with those who truly know the land. I love these reminders as I prepare for more travels! And for me, to remember with humility that I truly do not know a place and to be open to questions and conversations with those who do, with an open and curious heart.
    Love the photos!
    Thanks,
    Sara

  3. Laura Collins says:

    What a wonderful time for you all! Memories to treasure.

  4. Jeanne says:

    What a wonderful way for the youngsters to enjoy a vacation while being mindful of making choices that matter – even on vacation. Very cool. I know that I would have loved that kind of exposure of thought/mindfulness at that young age. Lucky kids to have you both to teach them, in a gentle fun way, how to honor the earth. And the process seemed to be fun for you too, at the same time. Looks like from the photos that the earth rewarded you with its glory!!! Thanks for sharing.

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