Keep Sedona’s natural sites stunning. (llustration by Emma Darvick)

How to Travel Better

Leave the World a Better Place with These Responsible Travel Pledges

Responsible travel means more than simply leaving no trace. It means giving back, too, actively working to facilitate positive interactions between visitors and residents and ensuring the environment stays healthy for generations to come.

Understanding protocols in Indigenous communities, how to responsibly interact with nature and be prepared for outdoor adventures, and etiquette for sharing the environment with others are integral to traveling responsibly.

To educate travelers and involve them in these conservation efforts, destinations worldwide have designed pledge programs. Read on for eight pledges that will help you leave the world a better place.

Sedona Cares Pledge

Sedona’s towering red rock features and forest canyon attract thousands of visitors a year. With a thriving arts and culture scene and unbeatable biking and hiking (there are more than 300 miles of trails), it’s a year-round destination, but it’s also at risk of being “loved to death.”

As a result, Sedona’s Sustainable Tourism Plan was born, and the Sedona Cares pledge was established as a way to reframe tourism as a sustainable effort. Sedona’s four pillars of sustainability combine the environment, quality of life, tourism economy, and visitor experience with the Seven Principals of Leave No Trace to create the pledge program. You can learn about and sign the Sedona Cares Pledge here.

B Like Breckenridge

Illustration of pine trees, a lake, and mountains in Breckenridge, Colorado
(Illustration by Emma Darvick)

In Breckenridge, in the Colorado Rockies, summer and winter activities are accessible for both beginners and intermediate hikers, bikers and skiers. However, a large volume of visitors had a negative impact on trails and slopes — and on the locals. Because of this, B Like Breckenridge was born.

Using a multichannel approach and community buy-in, residents and visitors alike respect and enjoy the destination together while reminding each other to “B Like Breck.”

The program includes tips on going carless through free public transportation and how to respect the community and the environment, steps for being prepared, and sustainability initiatives and events. Learn more about the B Like Breckenridge program and take its Tree Hugger Challenge here.

North Tahoe Pledge

Among the granite peaks of the Sierra Nevadas, North Lake Tahoe‘s famously blue waters and adjacent mountains straddle both California and Nevada. Work is being done to help restore its complex and fragile ecosystem, damaged by years of human use and neglect, but it will take time — and cooperation from visitors.

Adventures on the ski hill, hiking and biking trails, and on the water require careful planning before going out and careful attention while enjoying the natural beauty. North Lake Tahoe developed a pledge that teaches about wildfire and water safety, as well as respect for the environment and locals, including information on supporting local businesses and reducing your impact.

Learn more and take the North Tahoe Pledge here.

Haida Gwaii Pledge

Illustration of rocky shore and mountain and pine tries in Haida Gwaii, Canada
(Illustration by Emma Darvick)

The northern archipelago of British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii is a rugged destination where old-growth forests meet the Pacific Ocean and totem poles, longhouses and ancient petroglyphs connect 13,000 years of human history.

Here, Indigenous Haida People use oral history and ancient knowledge to connect visitors with Mother Earth and the Haida Gwaii culture. This unique environment requires careful attention to being a responsible traveler, both in the outdoors and in the communities, and for this, the Haida Pledge was born.

The pledge educates visitors on behavior protocols, respect for all beings, asking for permission to take photos of people and places, and more. Sign the Haida Gwaii Pledge here.

North Island Wild Pledge

Illustration of orcas swimming and mountains in Vancouver Island
(Illustration by Emma Darvick)

Vancouver Island in British Columbia is a dream adventure destination for anyone who loves to paddle, ski, hike, bike and camp. And the further north you get, the quieter and more sensitive the environment becomes.

From mountains to rainforests to the sea, this wilderness is home to vital Indigenous communities and wildlife, which the North Island Wild Pledge seeks to protect. Using six principles of responsible etiquette, the pledge educates visitors on cultural and community respect, leaving no trace, wildlife safety, being prepared and sharing the trails. Sign the North Island Wild Pledge here.

San Juan Islands Pledge

Illustration of a lighthouse in grass, waves, and a snowy mountain in the San Juan Islands
(Illustration by Emma Darvick)

Just south of Vancouver Island is Washington’s San Juan Islands. From historic lighthouses and seaside villages to lush forests and oceans teeming with marine life, the archipelago, home to Coastal Salish People for thousands of years, is filled with idyllic spots.

Through the Love it Like a Local program and the San Juan Island Pledge, visitors can learn how to care for the fragile land and marine-based environments when they visit, including the importance of conserving water, treading lightly and staying on marked trails, and leaving no trace. Find the San Juan Islands Pledge here.

PADI Torchbearer Pledge

At the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the world’s largest community of scuba divers wants you to join the fight to help protect and save the oceans.

The commitment aims to restore the balance between humanity and the ocean through various types of involvement that can be done from your computer, out in nature and through PADI’s flagship conservation organization, the PADI AWARE Foundation.

This pledge is different from the others in this story because it’s global, and as the program moves toward its goal of 30 percent of the oceans being protected by 2030, this is a way everyone can get involved. Join the Torchbearer Pledge here.

Pledge to Our Keiki, Hawai’i

On the tropical islands of Hawaii, the impossibly green mountains and teeming coral reefs welcome millions of visitors a year. “Keiki” in Hawaiian means “child,” and the

Pledge to Our Keiki is a promise to the children that Hawaii will be preserved for future generations. This pledge, designed and curated by students in local schools across multiple Hawaiian islands, educates about invasive species, teachings from elders and respect for communities.

Backed by Conservation International, Kanu Hawaii‘s Pledge to Our Kieki asks visitors to tread lightly and join Hawaiians as stewards of the environment. Take the pledge, one of the first statewide tourism pledges in America, here.