We all know the positive effect traveling has on our psyche. The experience of interacting with other cultures, eating new foods and exploring new terrain all add to our world perspective and shape our attitudes towards humanity. Of course, while we like to come home from a trip a different person, it’s important to ask how we contributed to the place we visited.

Akaka Falls, Hawaii

Akaka Falls. Photo by Richard J Kruse III and Lisa C. Rosprim

Whether you vow to travel as ecologically conscious as possible or even do a little volunteering while on vacation, there are many ways to give back. For destinations straddling the contrasting worlds of buzzing urban life and raw nature, it’s easy to see your impact. Think naturally beautiful – but heavily populated and visited – places like California, Hawaii or Washington State. All are home to precious resources like rainforests, important water supplies and fertile land. With the abundance of open space, parks, cuisine and locally produced goods, its easy to see how such resources factor into everyday life.

How are ways you can be a helpful tourist? From wisely choosing where you stay and how you get around once there, to patronizing local establishments and maybe even helping out a little, you can leave your mark on a place without leaving harmful evidence.

Stay Central

Sometimes, it’s great to stay off the beaten path. But if you are looking to do a lot of activities in a short amount of time, the best choice is to stay central. Hawaii makes this easy. Hundreds of Waikiki hotels are located within blocks of the beach, hiking opportunities, public transportation and numerous choices for dining and shopping. Many Honolulu hotels employ green practices and encourage you to extend the initiative to the rest of your vacation.

Shop Local

Farmers markets used to seem like a rare treat, but now their ubiquity makes them mainstream. Not only is the ripest, best-tasting produce available, it’s a great way to interact with true locals. Many farmers markets serve as an incubator for small farmers and artisans, serving as an encouraging, supportive network in which to spur economic growth and strengthen community ties. Additionally, most employ green efforts towards zero waste and use only compostable or recyclable materials.

And shopping locally means more than just food. Artists and musicians showcase their talent in amazing, open-air markets for a truly spirited occasion, meaning whatever you buy from them will also serve as a memorable experience.

Lend A Hand

Want to preserve natural beauty? Little actions go far, especially when you have on your gardening gloves. Soak up the floral-infused fresh air by helping preserve the natural beauty. Tree plantings, trail restoration, beach cleaning and removing non-native invasive species are all great ways to help out.

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