How Your Family Vacation Can Give Back to The Earth and Local Communities
Family vacations typically need to check a lot of boxes: being fun for all ages, manageable for parents (because we deserve relaxation time too, right?), and in many cases, the trip also needs to be budget friendly.
When aiming to accomplish each of the aforementioned goals, or at least some happy middle ground, it can be easy to overlook the importance of including activities that give back to the planet and to the destination your family is visiting.
Activities like planting a tree, participating in a beach clean-up, or spending time volunteering at a local wildlife rehabilitation center can take your family vacation to another level, allowing children in particular to connect in meaningful and enriching ways with a destination, while learning about some of the critical challenges the planet faces.
Making the act of giving back easy and seamless for travelers is where Kind Traveler comes in. For those not yet familiar with this globally award-winning and trailblazing platform (named a 2021 Future of Travel winner by Newsweek, and a Fast Company World Changing Ideas winner for 2021) Kind Traveler has been building serious momentum since launching back in 2016.
Co-founded by California resident Jessica Blotter, Kind Traveler has set out to change the world one traveler at a time by being the first socially conscious "give + get" hotel booking platform that empowers travelers to positively impact the communities they visit.
A public benefit corporation that accomplishes its mission as a booking engine, Kind Traveler aims to turn everyday travelers into a serious financial force in the world, leveraging the simple experience of booking a hotel in order to better the health and wellbeing of people, the environment, animals, and communities.
What does that mean, exactly, for busy families? And your next family vacation?
It means that, rather than using Expedia or Travelocity or some other booking platform to select hotels and even activities for your getaway, you could choose to head over to Kind Traveler and explore hotels in 22 countries that are organized on the website into such important categories as "Empowering Ocean Conservation," "Motivating Climate Action," and "Inspiring Community Impact."
What's more, when you review profiles of hotels on the site you'll see a detailed breakdown the many ways the property operates in an eco-friendly manner such as: eco-friendly bath products; renewable energy, plant a tree program, water bottle program, water efficient fixtures, local farmers program, locally sourced furnishings, and far, far more.
The actionable categories for hotel bookings and detailed sustainability profiles are really only the tip of the iceberg when using Kind Traveler. Think of them as Kind Traveler 2.0.
Kind Traveler arrived on the travel scene years ago with this simple and groundbreaking innovation: as you book a hotel, you can simultaneously make a donation to a charity in the destination being visited as part of your booking process.
Is there a cause near and dear to your child's or your family's heart? Kind Traveler has partnered with more than 100 charitable organizations and non-profits focused on such important issues as wildlife, animal welfare, the environment, human rights, and more.
During the booking process you can review profiles of charities that interest your family, reading about the organization's work on the ground and mission, while also learning about volunteer and educational opportunities with the organization that you might choose to participate in during your family's vacation.
And here's the "get" part of Kind Traveler's value proposition: by making a minimum $10 donation or more to a vetted local charity through Kind Traveler when finalizing your hotel booking (100 percent of which goes to the charity) you unlock exclusive hotel rates and perks for your family vacation. Think: complimentary beverages upon check-in, room upgrades, late check-out and the like…
It's that simple. You see the world, and you invest in making it better. And as an added bonus, you get better hotel rates and perks on property.
That's like a win, win, win, win…
Earlier this year amid much fanfare, Kind Traveler unveiled the latest iteration of its booking platform, adding 45 new hotel choices, 20 new charities, and a variety of additional user features. To help break down the latest developments and what they mean specifically for family travelers, Parents recently chatted with Blotter. Here's what she had to say about how families can give back while traveling. And how Kind Traveler can make that process easier.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the recent launch of Kind Traveler 2.0 and what you were hoping to achieve with the updated website? What's new and different and why?
With the launch of Kind Traveler 2.0, new technology was created to optimize our hotel booking engine and make it possible for Kind Traveler to scale positive impact.
Kind Traveler now offers multiple room category options, as well as impact reports with every booking and tree planting options with every booking, and an opportunity for Kind Traveler to establish relationships with a much larger variety of hotels globally.
Q. Why is it more important than ever for travelers, including family travelers, to care about issues like climate change, wildlife conservation, and community impact?
The climate crisis is the tourism industry's largest threat. The negative impacts associated with the climate crisis have the potential to disrupt and harm the wellbeing of communities and destinations.
With tourism related emissions totaling 8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, it's important for travelers to take steps to minimize their negative footprint and maximize positive impact. When it comes to wildlife, more than 1 billion plant and animal species are currently at risk of extinction. The 1.4 billion trips that took place in 2019 have the potential to harm or help the planet, if responsible and sustainable measures are in place.
Communities are central to the wellbeing of destinations and it's important for tourism dollars to be reinvested to further efforts that eliminate poverty, advance education, and fight inequality. As stated by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, only $5 of every $100 spent from international travelers who visit developing countries actually stays in the country visited.
Q. Do you feel like family travelers in particular, especially those with young children, often find it difficult or are unsure of how to incorporate giving back into their family vacations?
Giving back can take place in many forms—from giving back to meaningful nonprofits in host destinations to participating in volunteer efforts.
It can be difficult to find which charities are important to destinations or challenging to explore short-term volunteer opportunities that are genuinely valuable to communities. To make it easy for travelers, we created Kind Traveler to provide a seamless giving experience, one that optimize travel dollars and helps travelers leave destinations better than before they arrived.
Q. What tips or advice would you give family travelers who want to make a meaningful difference on family vacations—whether it be through ocean conservation, wildlife protection or climate action—but who may be unsure of how or where to get started? Or who may worry that it will be to challenging or difficult to participate in such activities with young children?
Travel that creates a positive impact is an opportunity for parents to easily teach children about the different ways it's possible to take care of the planet. Some of the simplest ways to get started include thinking about the ways in which you can lessen or eliminate your carbon footprint. For example, packing a few reusable water bottles, cutlery and reusable ways is a great way to get started. Refusing plastic throughout your journey and making a point to lean into refillable and reusable items makes for great learning opportunities.
Also, by choosing vacations that are immersed in natural surroundings you can teach children to value nature and the outdoors. It's a simple action parents can take to help children develop a deeper sense of connection to our planet while inspiring empathy and compassion.