This guest post is by Shannen Doherty with family adventure holidays.
Travelling somewhere with children is a chance to open their eyes to the world. It’s also a chance to help them understand issues such as sustainability, responsible travel and climate change.
It’s generally true that people who are enthused by natural places around the globe are those who are concerned about its conservation. Travel can have a negative impact on local communities and on the environment, and this can mean that those untouched places we are so keen to see are not untouched for long. Ecotourism is all about getting to still see those places but without causing any damage to the area, and protecting them for future generations.
Start Them Young
It’s never too early for children to understand about responsibility and conservation. More so than for today’s adult generation, issues of sustainability and environment will be a central part of their lives as they grow up. The sooner your children understand about the fragility of earth, the sooner they can appreciate her beauty without disrupting it. Quite a young child will be able to grasp this concept and you can explain it in simple terms. Compare the place you visit to your own home, even a toddler would understand that it would not be ok for someone to come to your home and leave rubbish for example. This is the first step to bringing up responsible little travellers.
Learning about wild African animals in the classroom and actually seeing them on safari holidays are incomparable activities. Once your child has seen beautiful animals such as giraffe, elephants or lions in the wild they will start to understand why conserving their natural habitat is important. If you choose to take your family adventure holidays in Africa, children will have both an unforgettable experience and an actual place to connect issues of conservation with. Explaining to children about the impact humans are having on natural habitats such as rainforests or the effect mass tourism has on fragile areas will make them consider their travel options more carefully as they grow up.
Make it a Project
The holiday itself doesn’t need to be the only lesson they have. You can encourage your kids to research the area you are visiting before they go. They can look into the natural environment of your destination and take note of any threats to the area, the animals or the local communities. When they arrive they can apply this knowledge to their visit and it will all start to fit together. Encourage your children to keep a diary as they go and take lots of pictures. When you get home you can put a scrap book together and discuss how you avoided leaving a negative environmental impact and anything you could have done better.
Obviously your family holiday needs to be about having fun and spending time together. However inspiring children with nature and animals is a great way to get them to understand about global issues. An ecotourism holiday doesn’t need to be boring, in fact the more you put into learning about the place you visit then the more you will be able to get out of it. Anything you and your children learn or experience is also likely to have a lasting impact on your lives.
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