What is the Difference between Sustainable, Responsible and Mindful Travel?

What is the difference between sustainable, responsible and mindful travel

What is the Difference between Sustainable, Responsible and Mindful Travel?

It’s easy to be confused and overwhelmed with certain words, phrases or terminology regarding sustainability across the tourism industry. 

Firstly let’s go through the definitions of each.

Sustainable Travel“Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities” – United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Responsible Travel – a term used when referring “to the behavior of travelers aspiring to make choices on their trip according to sustainable tourism practices” – Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

Mindful Travel – a concept of being aware of your surroundings (natural environment, communities, culture, animal welfare, etc), then making a positive conscious decision on how to travel respectfully and in an authentic way (transportation, interactions, activities, accommodation etc).

Whilst the terms may sound the same or similar let’s break them down a bit further and explain how they differ.

Sustainable Travel Pillars; People, Planet, Profit

Sustainable Travel Pillars

At the core is Sustainable Travel, the guiding principles to ensure current and future impacts of travel provide a positive contribution to the natural environment, support local communities and cultures, whilst ensuring economic benefits are sustained within local communities.

Whilst all three terms are similar in the overall message, they each have their own meaning and context. They all still underpin the same three pillars of: 

  • People – social connections, communities, cultures
  • Planet – environment, animals, nature
  • Profit – economy
Sustainable, Responsible, Mindful Travel Diagram

Following the core three principals of People, Planet and Profit, then comes Responsible Travel. Which are the positive actions and initiatives taken by travellers, communities, organsations and government bodies for a destination, ensuring they lead to the sustainable travel principles. It’s about the individual traveller taking ownership of their decisions, to ensure a positive outcome (current and future) is achieved for the natural environment, wildlife, communities and cultures.

Then comes Mindful Travel, whereby travellers have situational awareness of sustainable travel principles, by carrying out responsible travel practices, so they make immediate conscious decisions that provide current and future positive impacts towards the natural environment, wildlife, communities and cultures.

As a traveller, it’s about thinking of the future traveller just like you, and ensuring your habits and actions leave a destination better than when you first visited.

solo traveler sitting thinking