What is sustainable travel and a mindful traveler?

Posted March 1, 2013 by Kay Walten in Enviroment,Mexican Culture,Riviera Maya Activities,Sustainable Tourism

Benefits of being a mindful traveler in the Riviera Maya

For 20 years we have been mindful travelers in the Rivera Maya. Our passion has been to share our unique experiences with others out of love for the Riviera Maya, Costa Maya and the Yucatan. It seems that more and more people are looking for experiences such as these to enrich not only their vacation but themselves. Our continued intention is to share more of our mindful travel experiences and highlight the activities in the Riviera Maya that follow the beliefs of a mindful traveler.

What is a mindful traveler

What is a Mindful Traveler?

A mindful traveler is a traveler who wants to learn about the culture of the country that are visiting, are looking for those secrets, those off the beaten path, those interesting nuggets that defines a community and country other than their own. The mindful traveler wants to do this as an observing participant, a travel sponge, a social investigator. A mindful traveler is interested in learning about people, environments and cultures. It is about recognizing the familiar and similarities and treasuring the differences.

How the mindful traveler fits into sustainable tourism

The mindful traveler or mindful vacationer is a sustainable tourist. Most of us picture a sustainable tourist as a backpacker, a traveler on the fly, a nomad. In 2013, the sustainable tourist has changed to include the inquisitive, the curious and families looking to educate their children. They are looking to understand, investigate and appreciate the 4 parts of sustainability both at home and abroad. But what are the four parts that define sustainability and what does that mean?

The four parts to sustainability are environment, people, culture and economies. This is very different from eco-tourism or ‘green’ as these two terms refer only to the environment. Sustainable travel reaches deeper into the roots of communities and focuses on the four essential parts that define a community, a society or a country. Supporting through understanding and interest is what sustainability is all about. It expands our focus from environment to include all of these pieces that make up societies.

Whew, that all sounds a bit heavy and not what I want to think about on vacation or while I am traveling. I need a break from thinking and a break from worrying. Having to focus on sustainable tourism seems a bit too much work.

Oddly enough it is not. Sustainable tourism is about adventure, interest and fun. The older view that backpackers and hikers are sustainable travelers and vacationers is gone. This view changed when households started to recycle, families looked to buy local and we started to think about how we can use our resources better. Here are some simple examples of sustainable vacation activities. It is the difference between hiring a speed boat for an ocean adventure (not sustainable) to hopping on a catamaran. It is about shopping with local artisans versus shopping at an international department store. It is about drinking freshly squeezed local oranges versus buying a canned imported orange juice. It is as simple as choosing to eat at a local restaurant instead of McDonald’s or an international chain. It is that easy and makes your vacation and travels that much better and in most cases more fun!

The term ‘Buy Local’ has come out of the notion of sustainable. When traveling the buy local focus changes. Instead of looking for products from your home country, you look to buying and enjoying things from where you are at the moment.

Benefits of being a mindful traveler in the Riviera Maya

Benefits of being a mindful traveler

Really for us, discovering local things, whether it be food, cultures, traditional dances, architectural designs, artists, small hotels or outdoor activities, makes our vacation fun. We learn lots, we taste new things or try a new spin on old recipes, we hear great stories and we have time to relax. Going to the beach is a local thing to do. Going to the beach and reading a book is a sustainable activity. Exploring the local ruins, is a sustainable activity. Staying at a small hotel is a sustainable activity. Eating at a restaurant on 5th Ave that offers a unique dining experience is a sustainable activity. If you are hoping to go a bit deeper into sustainable tourism, look at visiting Rio Lagartos and see the flamingos, take a trip in the Sian Kaan and be taken by kayak through this incredible eco-system with a local guide who can name the medicinal plants used for natural cures, point out all the birds that you see, or just enjoy the sunset. Research accommodations that are looking after the environment with solar or wind power and hire local employees. Being a mindful traveler just changes your perspective, and opens up opportunities.

get out and about in the Riviera Maya

A mindful traveler gets out and about

We love to get out and about and encourage you to do the same. Our suggestion to all of the vacationers we come in contact with is do one thing, one activity, one restaurant, one day trip that interests you. Try a local fruit that is new to you, try a new drink like Jamaica or Horchata. Look at what the Riviera Maya has to offer as a unique destination and just do it! Your vacation should not be packed with a million different activities, having you more tired than when you arrived. Your vacation should be a way to rest and open you to new experiences that shake up your routine a bit, that opens your heart to another way of living, doing or seeing. Pick activities that highlight and protect the environment. Pick activities that show you a cultural aspect of the destination that you are visiting.

Dont leave your footprint on the destination, let the destination leave a footprint on you so you walk away knowing something new, something different, something you never experienced before. If you are just not sure, that’s okay, think about it and know that we are here to show you the fun things to do in the Riviera Maya.

If you are looking to get out and about in the Riviera Maya you have come to the right place. Get some help with your vacation planning and see what transpires!

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