News & Updates

Three Tips for Traveling with Teens

Susy Alkaitis - August 15, 2019

In some recent down time from our position as the Leave No Trace Zero Landfill Initiative team, we took our teenage niece on a vacation. Typically, we live a very “Leave No Trace” and “Zero Landfill” life, during both work and play. Suddenly, all of our typical habits were seen through the lens of a 13-year old. The trip taught us a lot about encouraging and inspiring Zero Landfill and Leave No Trace habits in young people. Here were three of our takeaways:

You Might Have to Plan Ahead and Prepare for Your Teen

On one of the first days of our trip, we scheduled a 5-mile walking tour. We told our niece the temperature would be in the 80s and lack shade. Our Leave No Trace instincts had us recommending she wear sunscreen, sunglasses and bring a hat, as well as a full water bottle. We succeeded with the sunscreen, but not the rest. We didn’t end up buying her a single-use water bottle, but of course shared our own with the help of refillable water stations. We all learn to plan ahead and prepare through practice, education and sometimes a little trial and error!

Everything Can Be a Leave No Trace Learning Opportunity

One day on the beach, our niece was thrilled to find a conch shell. Understandably in her excitement, she wanted to take it home as a souvenir. We tried our best to explain the cultural and ecological significance of the conch, eg. the many organisms that could be living inside, not to mention the fact that it is illegal in most places to take them from their natural environment. I even tried to get a laugh out of her by saying, “take only pictures, leave only bubbles!” We might have been “no fun,” but we succeeded in the small and important lesson: to Leave What You Find.

Lead by Example

Most of the year, we live out of a 45-square-foot Subaru Ascent. Our niece ended up taking over a lot of our shared vacation room and made some comments about how little stuff we brought, how we always packed our trash and recycling with us during the day if facilities were not available and turned off lights when we left the room. Young people are the future and Leave No Trace education ensures they’re equipped to make good choices.

Enjoy Your World and Leave No Trace and #DontFeedtheLandfills.

Patrice and Justin La Vigne make up the 2019 Subaru/Leave No Trace Zero Landfill Traveling Team, who provide outreach and education around the three pilot national parks in the Zero Landfill Initiative (Yosemite, Grand Teton and Denali).

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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