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KeeKee's Corner
Ways to Give Back to Mother Nature on Your Family Vacation


More and more families are choosing to travel in ways that protect and contribute to their vacation destinations.

The choices we make when we travel, even small ones, can help reduce our carbon footprint and emissions, help preserve natural resources and support the people living in the communities.

There are some easy things you can do on any trip you take that will help your family travel in a more earth-friendly way. Or if you want to do even more, you could take a voluntourism vacation.

Let’s look at how you can incorporate both into your family vacations.

The first thing you can do when planning your trip is to ensure you’re working with companies committed to responsible travel and minimizing their environmental footprint.

AAA is a member of Tourism Cares and partners with travel providers that take actionable steps to help protect people, the planet, and wildlife. Some of those include:

  • Royal Caribbean Group is celebrating 30 years of its environmental initiative, Save the Waves, which has helped the company achieve waste management and reduction over the past three decades, such as installing advanced wastewater purification systems across 88% of its fleet.
  • Marriott no longer offers single-use plastic toiletries to reduce their environmental impact and is working to source, build and operate sustainable hotels.
  • The Travel Corporation, with 40 travel companies, including Trafalgar, has partnered with World Animal Protection, a global nonprofit, since 2015, and the company allows only ethical wildlife experiences.

You and your family can also do some easy things when planning and packing for your trip.

  • Pack a reusable water bottle for each family member
  • Bring your own shopping bags
  • Instead of using what is in the hotel, bring your own toiletries in reusable bottles.
  • Research and learn local customs and traditions.

KeeKee at Old Faithful

Then to help protect the environment and community of your vacation destination, consider doing the following things.

  • Use public transportation or walk. Nearly one pound of pollution is kept out of the air for every mile walked instead of driving.
  • When given the option, choose to have your sheets and towels changed every other day. On a short stay, don’t have them changed at all.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Turn off lights, ac/heat, and tv when not in the hotel room.
  • Stay on trails and designated areas to protect the environment when in nature. And be sure to leave the wildlife alone.
  • Shop from local craftspeople and eat at local restaurants to support the community.

Your family can also take vacations designed to give back and make a difference.

South Africa Private Game Reserve - Visit the Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa, which protects the animals and employs the locals. Many species, like the black rhino, Cape lion, cheetah, hippo, and buffalo, were gone from this area because of hunting and development. Over the last 25 years, these wild animal species were reintroduced and are now thriving. You can participate in the reserve’s conservation efforts, and when traveling with African Travel to Shamwari, a portion of your trip’s cost is donated to help the rhinos. Check out this KeeKee’s Corner Article for more on Sustainable Travel Adventures in Africa.

Alaska Cruise Excursions - Join an Alaskan cruise excursion aboard a research boat and help study humpback whales. You can volunteer as a citizen scientist for the day, exploring the food chain by drawing plankton samples and snapping GPS-pinpointed photos of whales. The information you gather will be used to research how the whales interact with their habitat.

Yucatan Turtle Conservation Camps - Escape to an all-inclusive resort on the northeastern shore of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and help protect the sea turtles while there. Turtle Conservation Camps at the resort help monitor nesting sea turtles and their eggs along the coastlines of Riviera Maya and participate in sea turtle adoption programs.

Being mindful and helpful to the environment on your family vacation gives back and is a great way to create meaningful and enlightening family experiences.

Adventure Awaits!

Your AAA Travel Advisor can help you find these voluntourism trips and more.  Find an Advisor

KeeKee National Park Activity Guide Link