A week in the Adirondacks taught me some important lessons in sustainable travel.
As a value focused traveler, how do you take your travel experiences to the next level without your spending habits following you there? There's an easy way to get incredible bang for your buck, no matter what your travel style may be, and that is through embracing sustainable travel.
Sustainable travel may conjure up visions of a bohemian nomad sleeping in a solar paneled yurt, chomping down on sprouts and kale. And some days that doesn't sound half bad! But you don't have to dress like a hippy or love the great outdoors to embrace sustainable travel and reap its many rewards. To me, it is simply supporting locations, activities, attractions, and businesses whose philosophies and practices balance ecological, economical, and community needs.
Doing so doesn't cost you any more than non-sustainable travel. In fact, it might save you money! But you won't just be feeling the benefits in your wallet. You'll feel it in your heart as well, as sustainable travel makes marvelous memories. Here's how I made some of mine in the Adirondacks region of New York.
Sustainable travel is... chatting with locals.
Any article of travel advice will suggest you chat with locals for an authentic travel experience. But how exactly do you do that? Cajole a passing letter carrier for information on what they're having for dinner? Supporting sustainable travel initiatives makes that process more natural and less awkward as they reflect a community's passions and best interests, making it easy for visitors to connect with local guides, volunteers, and societies.
While visiting Point au Roche State Park, just outside Plattsburgh, New York, I had the opportunity to hike and chat with Ken Adams, president of the Friends of Point au Roche society. Spending time with someone so dedicated to sustainable tourism meant I had a unique visit I never could have achieved on my own.
Ken pointed out so many things I would have missed, from the work of a woodpecker to a benign looking invasive plant. And we also had a chance to chat about regular things too, like what he did before he retired, his wife's volunteer work as a gardener, and local politics. Yep, it's that easy! Talking with a local! No weird forced interactions or awkward encounters, just a bit of discourse about things you both care about.
Sustainable travel is... thinking outside the box.
In order for sustainable travel projects to be a success, there must be a lot of 'outside the box' thinking and methodology. And in my experience, those kinds of moments are the kind of thing that enduring travel memories are made of. You can't ask for anything better as a value traveler than something unique that gives you great bang for your buck.
One travel experience that qualified for me while in the Adirondacks was a visit to the Wild Walk at the Wild Center. Best described as a walk among the tree tops, the Wild Walk includes a bird feeding viewing area, a giant 'nest', and a huge spiderweb that's just aching for you to play on.
There are also rope and metal suspended bridges connecting the walk with a large artificial "snag" (a hollowed out, dead tree that serves as a wildlife habitat.) Oh, there's also an amazing natural playground consisting of massive tree roots and hollowed out logs! The Wild Walk is completely unlike any other museum you've ever visited and your admission fee goes a long, long way when you end up spending the entire day there.
Sustainable travel is...taking things to the next level.
Sustainable travel doesn't necessarily mean being outdoors all the time. You don't have to spend your days hiking in the woods and eating trail mix (though there is definitely nothing wrong if you do!) Real sustainable travel means taking a regular travel experience, like dining out, and elevating it to a whole new level through sustainable practices. Case in point: 1844 House Bistro.
The tasting menu created by Chef Brian Walker is as refined and sophisticated as any I've had. I absolutely loved the amuse bouche trio, which included one of the best falafels I've ever tasted. But that was just the start! The Thai summer roll, with a delectable spicy peanut sauce, was absolutely amazing. I am somewhat obsessed with peanut sauce and I could have feasted on nothing but the rolls and sauce all night!
A menu this sophisticated was successfully produced with local food and a sustainable philosophy. In fact, on 1844 House's main website, they have a page dedicated to their local suppliers and they even list their local partners for artwork, roasted coffee, and hand soap. LOVE IT! I'm also loving that they track how much money they've spent on buying products from local suppliers - it's amazing to see the relationship between the meal you eat and the farms it indirectly support. This is sustainable food at it's most cosmopolitan level, but don't worry if you're missing the great outdoors - you can get a taste of the campfire through the S'mores featuring homemade graham crackers, homemade roasted marshmallows, and dark chocolate pudding.
Sustainable travel... is a value minded traveler's best friend.
I learned a lot of lessons about sustainable travel during my week in the Adirondacks, the most important being that it goes hand in hand with value travel. The region changed my image of what sustainable travel can look like and now I want to support these ongoing initiatives not just because it's a good thing to do but also because it's a good thing for me. My travel money doesn't necessarily grow but my experiences absolutely do.
What does sustainable travel mean to you?
If you liked this post, you'll also enjoy:
The Anti-Adventurist Guide to the Adirondacks
Kim Rielly Shares Her Adirondacks Passion
Visiting New York City On Our Round The World Trip
My time in the Adirondacks was facilitated by the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and I thank them for their support.