Staying mindful while on vacation

Sun sets over rural Iowa
The sun sets over rural Iowa near Anamosa while going on a drive. PHOTO BY SHAELY ODEAN

The last thing anyone wants to do on vacation is worry about things outside of themselves. That is the whole purpose of taking a vacation in the first place— to forget about what’s going on in the world and take a little time to recuperate. But, if there is one thing you should worry about while on vacation, it is being respectful of the places you travel to. 

It is well-known that tourism takes a toll on the surrounding environment. Effects such as the erosion of soil, air pollution from flying and endangering species in high-traffic areas put nature at risk. 

I am not telling anyone to stop traveling or taking vacations, but I am asking people to stay mindful when it comes to the means of traveling, what you do while on vacation and how you do it. We need to conserve what is left of these beautiful places so that generations to come will have the ability to experience them. The toll of tourism should not be ignored.

 With a higher population density comes the use of more resources in tourist hotspots, such as water, food and raw materials. This is not to mention the noise pollution from vehicles, concerts and other big events. These events can scare away native species, sometimes even forcing out already-endangered wildlife. 

All of this might sound scary and discourage individuals from traveling; however, that is not what this is about. Everyone has the right to travel and should get out to see the world while they still can. 

For the sake of future generations, it is important that we take care of our beautiful planet. There are things travelers can do to ensure that they are staying mindful while away from home. If you are planning on traveling within the country while on vacation, consider driving instead of taking a flight; this will cut down harmful emissions. Consider staying in an airbnb rather than a resort, as supporting a place that tore down the very area you chose to visit is a little counterintuitive.

One of the biggest ways you could support a tourism hot spot is by shopping at locally owned businesses as an alternative to big corporate chains. Riding bikes and walking to destinations on vacation is a fun eco-friendly alternative to driving.

When packing for a trip, replace some necessities with more sustainable alternatives. Bring a reusable water bottle, reusable shopping bags and shampoo/conditioner bars to avoid using the plastic ones provided at certain locations. 

Leave the place you travel to better than the way you found it. Pick up after yourself at the beach, and if you can find a few pieces of litter laying around that don’t belong to you, throw them away. 

If we do not take care of the places we want to escape to, who  knows how they will end up? Don’t be one of the few who ruin it for the many. Mother nature would be grateful if we paid a little more attention to the world around us. 

Image courtesy of Shaely Odean

Categories: Columns, Opinion