What if you could change the world by going on vacation?

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Most people are not aware of their potential as individuals, of how powerful the effects of their daily actions and decisions can be. They underestimate their ability to change things for the better. They take for granted that only certain elite groups can make an influence on this New World Order. They believe that people as individuals have no chance to change anything.

They are wrong.

As individuals, we certainly cannot do ‘everything’, but we can still do many things. The heart of the matter is that too many people use the fact that we cannot ‘change everything’ as an excuse to get pessimistic and avoid doing ‘something’.

Fortunately, in this context, there are more and more people realizing their own singular vitality and knowing that no matter how small or insignificant what they are doing looks in the face of these huge global issues. They have comprehended that our personal evolutionary impulse can turn into something huge when it’s in synergy with many other like-minded humans.

In other words, they have understood that more human doing as opposed to human being is what we really need for the world to come tomorrow.

If you are wondering what all this has to do with our activity as a local Destination Management Organization, then we invite you to read some of our previous posts to understand what we aim for at Handspan since our foundation in 1997.
In brief, we are truly committed to applied sustainability and we do believe that our field of expertise -travel, tourism and hospitality- has the inherent power to achieve those highly desired sustainable development goals.

Unluckily, it’s also a fact that there are way too many actors claiming to be “green”, “responsible”, “socially and environmentally concerned”, when in fact, the only actions that they are taking in this regard are basically limited to the use of “greenwashing” as marketing tool.

However, there are also many travelers and other stakeholders in the sector who -just the same as us- break out in a rush when running into this sort of preachers that don’t practice what they preach.

Therefore, for this like-minded people who believe that (real) sustainable travel can be a powerful tool towards more mature modes of cooperation, a more conscious and integral development, and are also aware that “going green” is not just about reducing our carbon footprint, we have compiled some allusions to several key topics that will really help them to make a difference, also when going on vacation.


REALLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE WITH YOUR TRAVEL CHOICES

 [Please note that the following is inside the wire information, since we  are travel experts. If you are just looking for banal or dull “responsible travel tips” that can easier make you feel more comfortable with your travel choices, then it would be more advisable for you to visit any of the trillions of travel blogs that can be found online – thing that by the way, we also recommend, especially to those travelers who are not that familiar with a more mindful way to travel]

Important basic topics such as the use of alternative means of transport, the importance to reduce our waste and preserve our natural and cultural heritage can also be found here

If you already count on insight into these basics, then you should be ready to disclose some more substantial information:

1. Either if you travel independently or book your trip through a travel agency, PLEASE RESEARCH. Your trip does NOT start once you are landed on your destination. It’s at home when you already start making a difference from the very first moment that you choose your next destination and start planning and dreaming about your trip.

2. Be realistic. Do yourself and the potential destination a favor by getting sure that your expectations are in keeping with what the destination can offer.

For instance, if you have only two weeks for your trip and decide to travel around half of the 7,000 Filipino islands, you shouldn't be expecting any smooth journey, since you will obviously spend most of the holiday tele-transporting yourself on neither precisely fancy nor comfortable vessels.

If this is the case, please don’t blame the existent tourism facilities for that. It’s YOUR responsibility to figure out the accessibility of your destination, among other features -or your travel agency’s responsibility, whose fee it’s supposed to be settled so that proper travel advise is provided.

3. Less is more. You have enough with your daily matrix, don't you? Then please don't make the mistake of packing your vacation with an infinite list of activities to do, places to visit, or unmissable 'experiences'... Unless you make a living out of your posts on Instagram, there is no point to be on a marathon during your well-deserved holiday. The only thing we shouldn't miss during our travels is the authentic essence of our destination, and that's something that you won't be able to get if you spent most of the time uploading stunning pics of your trips on social media.

4. Be selective. Choose wisely your destinations, accommodations, restaurants and assets to be visited. Reward those ones that foster authenticity, that really contribute to preserve the natural habitat and that seek social improvements within the community through their business activities. How to identify all this? Well, just look around for some signs. Good ones could be for instance those f&b businesses where we see smiley and easy-going staff (this will possibly mean that they are being treated fairly), or where environmentally friendly utensils are used, or restaurants where we see NO CHILDREN helping out.

5. If you decide to use a responsible travel company to take care of your trip preparations, then do yourself and all concerned stakeholders involved another favor by getting sure that you choose a travel agency that is actually doing its best applying sustainability into all related scopes and not only into fake green marketing (aka greenwashing). Here some hints that can help to identify a responsible travel operator:

   - Their social and environmental compliance is not mainly introduced through isolated altruistic events. We must understand that applied sustainability is NOT about donations or about sponsoring caritative events (especially NOT when they are shouting them from every corner!), but about integrating social compliance and innovation into the daily operations of a company. For instance, it is simply totally hypocritical to sponsor clean up events in the weekends if we are from Monday to Friday contributing nonstop to damage our Planet.

   - Spend some time having a look to their trip proposals. This will give you some perspective about how well their core travel product fits with that responsible travel policy that they claim to have. Careful with Voluntourism, performances with indigenous people or activities in which animals are involved.

   - Be suspicious of those ones who introduce their trips as perfectly sustainable or “100% Green”.   If “perfection” existed, then it would be no need to put into practice any Applied Sustainability.   Test them out! Ask how they contribute to the local economies of the destinations that you can find on their portfolio or request them to send you their Social Compliance Criteria for their Supply Chain.  

   - In some far-flung destinations can be very difficult to find a trustworthy local incoming agency. However, when available, they should be your first choice for too many reasons (they work together and directly with the host destination and therefore have better insight about the different service quality standards available, they will be able to provide you more accurate travel information, more competitive and genuine travel options, etc).

   - Please do yourself and the “circular living awakening community” another favor by directly discarding those tour operators that use “sustainable travel” as synonym of “eco-tourism”. If they do so, they definitely have NO clue and/or interest about Applied Sustainability.

   - Be also suspicious of those travel operators that count on privileged ranking positions on google. That’s mostly related with huge budgets for paid-search campaigns, which in many cases are also related to whitewashing. That's one of the reason why at Handspan we are much more into organic results.

   - Nowadays, a company cannot be considered innovative unless it’s moving not only beyond the existing social and environmental regulations but also ahead of its industry and many of its consumers.

6. Don’t pay for water and reward those cafés and restaurants that provide water for free instead of making money out of it by selling single use small plastic water bottles - Like the ones from our grassroots initiative Refill Hanoi. Find these awesome venues in town here! 

7. Unplug, fully disconnect from routine, go local and just make the most of your holiday! Genuine enjoyment is the secret to work-life balance. And the world to come really needs you to renew your energy and spirit so that you can keep pulling up your sleeves and making a difference through those awaken, smart and “simple” daily choices that will have a huge cumulative effect. A big thanks to you for that!!
 

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