Avoiding any activities that exploit animals and people is of huge importance when you want to travel responsibly. It means researching well and thinking about the consequences of your choices. Joining ethical animal tourism can support habitat and communities around the world and the result is positive tourism. And that’s exactly what we want!
In this interview, Steph and Lewis Jackson, founders of the travel blog Book It Let’s Go! will tell you their take on responsible tourism and give you hands on tips for making a difference when you travel. But first, let’s get to know them a little better!
Get to know Steph and Lewis Jackson
Steph and Lewis Jackson are the bloggers behind Book It Let’s Go! They are an expat couple originally from the UK currently residing in St Kitts.
Lewis is a trained chef who loves to experiment with new dishes and cook things he has discovered while traveling. Steph is a full-time veterinary nurse who got offered a huge opportunity to work at the Veterinary University on St Kitts.
So, in 2019 they packed up their old lives and their 2 cats to leave the cold and wet behind in exchange for beaches and palm trees. Now that they have made the leap to move abroad they have no plans to return anytime soon.
They are currently enjoying being based in the Caribbean and doing some island hopping while planning their next big adventure.
An interview with Steph and Lewis Jackson
What does travel mean to you?
Travel for us is such an exciting way to delve into new cultures, we love to travel, to meet new people, especially locals but mainly to try new exciting food! We are massive foodies and trying exotic dishes is the main driver for us.
As a couple we find traveling together one of the best ways to bring us closer together, there is nothing quite like trying to navigate a new country or order things in another language to make or break a relationship.
What does responsible tourism mean to you?
Responsible travel for us is contributing to the local community by buying produce from local markets or eating locally rather than from chain restaurants and buying local sourced handcrafted gifts rather than mass produced items.
It also means thoroughly researching activities to make sure they are ethical and not exploitative either to animals or local people. We also focus heavily on creating less waste when we travel by carrying reusable bottles, cutlery, bags etc.
When did you first start to be conscious about the way you travel and the effects your travels have on your destination?
Moving to St Kitts had a big impact for us, seeing the amount of plastic washed up on the beaches in low season was an eye opener. Moving here also helped us to get out of our comfort zone and visit local markets and traders for things that are expensive from the big named shops.
We made a huge conscious effort to only use our water bottles rather than accepting single use plastic bottles and since then we have moved away from all single use plastics including cutlery and boxes for takeout and plastic bags in the grocery stores.
It is not sustainable in the long term, so we have started taking out own boxes, cups and cutlery whenever we eat cheaply and we always keep some reusable shopping bags in the car.
We also started buying local produce to help the local community and economy and we have found that the best things never make it to the supermarkets. This has continued to be an influence in all of our travels.
Have you traveled to a specific destination that you found especially sustainable that you would like to recommend to other travelers?
Kenya for ethical animal tourism, seeing the African wildlife in their natural environment was the best travel experience we have had to date.
We would highly recommend going on a safari above any other kind of animal tourism because it is so natural, and the Kenya government and tourism board put a lot of effort into conservation and protecting endangered species.
Kenya has so many national parks to visit for different activities including protected marine reserves where you can snorkel and scuba dive with wild dolphins.
What do you do to travel responsibly?
When we travel, we try to travel responsibly in most aspects, we take our own reusable water bottles and bamboo cutlery to save on single use plastics.
We always carry a cotton bag for our groceries, and we take our metal straws and reusable cups when we visit beach bars.
We try to take local buses, cycle or walk places when we can, rather than getting taxi’s. When it comes to activities, we always try to use a local guide for tours to help local economy.
As massive animal lovers we also never indulge in unethical animal tourism, even zoos don’t sit well with us.
One of our best travel experiences to date was safari in Kenya, seeing the animals in the wild in their natural environment was amazing and nothing can compare to seeing them that way.
What are your top 3 advice to travelers that want to travel more responsibly?
Start small, look at things you can do today that will make a big impact like taking your reusable bags to the grocery store or using a reusable water bottle every day.
Then start with something mindful that will help a local community like buying local produce at the market or only buying handcrafted souvenirs.
Also looking at what other travelers are doing can be inspirational and can give you some great ideas where to start. It doesn’t have to be anything huge to begin with little things sometimes make the biggest difference.
Know more from Steph and Lewis
Did you get as inspired by Steph and Lewis as I did? I love it when travelers focus on ethical animal tourism when they talk responsible travel. It is such an important part of how we can travel better, as it affects nature and communities too. And I really want to go to Kenya now!
Other interviews you might like:
- Travel slow and fly less: An interview with Jonah Estanislao
- Keep the locals in mind: And interview with Coritta Lewis
- A simple choice: An interview with Michelle della Giovanna