Guest Post for That Minimal Life

This guest post on responsible travel is written by the lovely Sydney Jackson-Clockston. Sydney works as a Responsible Travel Advisor and Transformative Retreat Coordinator, and she is the owner of Citrine Unlimited LLC. Enjoy!

If you are like me, you may have vowed in 2019 that 2020 was going to be your year, that you were going to dive into your travel bucket list and go somewhere new or visit a familiar happy place. And then came COVID-19. Quickly in May 2020, we saw the World do something that it has never done on a global scale. Travel was shut down. 

Personally, traveling is a form of mindfulness, life fulfillment, and as a Travel and Retreat Coordinator, it’s my career. Seeing COVID-19 dismantle tourism was, in a word, devastating. Just when I needed vacation the most, it wasn’t possible. 

However, something I did notice from COVID-19 is that it has slowed down the rat race. Folks in the USA are doing something they may have never had the space to do before. They are slowing down and noticing the many societal issues that have been dismissed and evaluating their contributions to these issues. 

So what about travel?

You often hear about how travel is great for a destination economically, but what you don’t often hear and think about is the real impact of your travel. According to

“There are over 1.4 billion tourists arriving at their destination every year. That’s 45 arrivals every single second.”

Unfortunately, most travel leads to negative environmental, economic, and social impacts for the destination. This negative impact comes in many forms, for example:

  • Littering
  • Overcrowding
  • Lack of support to small business
  • Demand for vacation homes pricing out locals
  • Zooification (treating locals like animals at a zoo)

The list could go on and on. Now that your travel plans are on hold, this is a golden opportunity to reevaluate your travels and consider how you can do your part to travel responsibly.

So What is Responsible Travel?

Responsible travel, aka responsible tourism, is being socially and culturally aware when you travel, understanding your effect on the places you visit, and making that effect a positive one. Responsible travel takes into consideration the triple bottom line of sustainability: people, profit, planet. I want to give some helpful tips to start you on your responsible traveler journey.


responsible traveler wearing all belongings in a backpack and carefully observing a mountainous nature scene

When looking at the environment, take into consideration the impact you have. Colorado is my home state, and I grew up learning, “leave no trace behind.” When I say that, most folks automatically jump to no littering, but it’s much deeper than that. 

What can you do:
  • Learn more about greenwashing. Are hotels asking you to keep towels because they are saving the environment, or is their helping the environment a convenient bi-product of saving on their water bill by not having to wash so many towels?
  • Use biodegradable soaps and sunscreens to avoid harming aquatic life.
  • Whether flying or road tripping, consider carbon offsetting.
  • If safe and accessible, walk or bike during your travels. 
  • Reduce plastics by buying a reusable water bottle with a filter, carrying a reusable straw, and reusable bag.
  • Know how the animals are cared for with wildlife tourism and where your money goes. Read More  


man shopping at local market with women standing by baskets of strawberries

When you travel to a destination, you incur expenses. You may have to buy a plane or train ticket. You have to pay for food and accommodations. If you track where your money was going, it may surprise you to discover that as little as 10% stays in the community you’re visiting. Following where the money goes is called the trickle-down effect. 

What can you do:
  • Book vacation packages and tours with companies that support the communities they are a part of.
  • If possible, stay at locally owned accommodations.
  • Skip the big box store and shop local.
  • Eat at Mom and Pop restaurants.

RELATED: How To Support Local Farmers


group of women lined up outside wearing adornments of their culture

What would you do if a stranger came up to your child on the street and started taking their photo? Would you be ok with this? I have personally seen American tourists do this to folks in other countries. Child welfare is one of the few things to take into consideration while traveling. My rule is if you wouldn’t do it at home, then don’t do it while traveling.

What can you do:
  • If staying at a resort, be curious about the wage employees are earning and how they are treated.
  • If volunteering, aka voluntourism, make sure locals want you there and work on the projects they determine to be necessary.
  • Be respectful of cultures and customs. 
  • Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

How To Get In Action:

I challenge you to look at the last trip you went on — regardless if it was a staycation, domestic, or international travel — and do an audit to see how responsible you were. Are you surprised by the answer? I know I was surprised the first time I did this exercise. Take time to think about additional things you can do to be a responsible traveler and share what responsible tourism is with your community.

About the Author

Sydney is the owner of Citrine Unlimited LLC, which is a coaching and consulting firm. She is a member of Good Business Colorado, a Youth Mentor with Colorado Young Leaders & a Guided by Humanity Board Member. Sydney is an impact-driven social entrepreneur bringing transformation into the lives of others. 

Sydney is a certified Coach, Public Speaker, Retreat & Workshop Coordinator. She works as a Responsible Travel Advisor and Transformative Retreat Coordinator with ten or more groups to help coordinate their travel plans.

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