Responsible School Travel
Whilst travel and tourism brings many benefits, it is a heart-breaking truth that our curiosity for travelling can also have a negative impact on those places and on our environment as a whole. Air travel, globalisation and overcrowding have in some instances had detrimental effects on places and the people who live there and it is the responsibility of each of us to minimise this impact and appreciate that we leave behind a footprint wherever we go.
As passionate travellers and educators, we believe the benefits of travel should not be lost by the next generation.
That is why we are working on more and more ways to become a more responsible travel provider. This means we are committed to finding and implementing maintainable strategies that; protect fragile landscapes, minimise our carbon footprint, celebrate unique cultures and benefit local people.
Pillars of sustainability
Many people refer to the pillars of sustainability to help define the simple areas when developing an approach to sustainability. They are called pillars because together they provide the foundation of sustainability and if one of these pillars is weak, the whole approach is unsustainable.
This pillar focuses on reducing negative impacts on the environment including minimising carbon footprint, conserving natural resources, reducing waste etc.
To tackle this pillar, we are working on several projects, firstly we are working with World Land Trust, an international conservation charity, which protects the world’s most biologically important and threatened habitats.
We are also working with Kids Against Plastic, a charity who educate young people about the plastic problem as well as advocating for changes in legislation. Check out our student’s guide to responsible travel to see how teenagers Amy and Ella recommend students minimise plastic waste at home and abroad.
In addition, from September 2019 we are reducing our paper consumption through using our online resources to provide teachers with their travel documents on the go.
This pillar is broad and there is much more that we can do. We’ve set up a sustainability squad in our office so that we are constantly reviewing our practices and finding better ways of working.
The social pillar is about positive impacts. We have been a proud supporter of local businesses across the world since our beginnings but we don’t want to stop there. We want to work with our suppliers to find more ways to celebrate their traditions and share their way of life with our students.
We want to encourage students to engage with and respect local culture whether this is trying new foods or using the correct etiquette when greeting people, you can find out more about this in the Student Guide to Responsible Travel (coming soon).
If you are interested in including more cultural activities in your next trip, look for the culture symbol in your activities brochures or speak to your travel specialist.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the sector is one of the largest industries in the world. In 2018, it contributed $8.8 trillion to the global economy, as well as generating 10% of the jobs worldwide. For example, tourism helped Iceland recover from their economic crash in 2008.
In addition to working with local suppliers, another way to focus on the economic pillar is to ensure students look for local souvenirs to support independent vendors during their trip. You can see more on this topic in our Student Guide to Responsible Travel (coming soon).
Our 3 steps towards a more sustainable future
When it comes to our small team, we want to keep our promises realistic and achievable. That’s why we have split our objectives into three simple goals.
Empowering students and teachers
Our goal is to use our platform to empower students and teachers to become more responsible travellers.
Becoming a responsible traveller can seem daunting or expensive but there are lots of steps you can take to minimise your negative impact, cheaply and easily.
We’ve also teamed up with two young activists, Amy and Ella of Kids Against Plastic to help young people take charge of the fight against plastic waste at home and on their travels.
The debate around developing a sustainable world is highly complex and requires in-depth critical thinking, an essential skills for geographers and scientists. To get you started we recommend reading our blog “To fly or not to fly – the challenges of going green.”
Minimising our local and global impact
We are only a small company with 25 people in the education team, however as we send over 10,000 students a year overseas and we know that we are capable of making a big impact on our planet. However this also means we can use our wide reach within the teaching community to help educate students. Our goal is to minimise our negative impact and work together with our teachers and students to maximise the good we can do.
Our approach to Responsible Tourism can be summarised in our strategic partnership with the Geographical Association.
We have appointed our own in house ‘Sustainability Squad’ to develop plans to continue reducing, reusing and recycling in our office and find local charity or environmental projects to support.
Supporting our local suppliers
We work with some incredible people all around the world and we want to recognise those who are finding innovative ways of reducing environmental impacts or finding opportunities for our students to engage with local culture and traditions.
We will be celebrating those who are achieving their goals and also offering assistance to our smaller suppliers who are just starting their sustainability journey.
An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.
– David Attenborough
To fly or not to fly? The challenges of going green
- Our blog discussing the complexities of responsible travel
Carbon Offsetting Information
- Find out how you can offset your greenhouse gas emissions
Sustainability Classroom Resources
- Check out our Thinking Skills Resource and the Solheimajokull Case Study
Strategic Partners with the Geographical Association
- Read more about how we are working together to promote responsible school travel