When heading off on vacation, responsible traveling can both benefit the environment and give you a better look at local culture where you are visiting. Traveling this way involves learning about and appreciating the area, supporting local businesses and leaving a place you visit a little better for having hosted you and your family.

These five ideas for traveling more responsibly are easy ways to do that. And they aren’t just good for the local area. They are good for you, too, because responsible tourism can lead to richer and more meaningful travel experiences.

1. Be selective about lodging

Not all lodging is created equal. That’s because some hotels are more conscientious about their effect on the world around them. Before you book your stay, do a little homework on the different accommodations: What is the recycling policy? Does the property use fair trade products? What does the company do to reduce electricity consumption and conserve resources? And does the hotel engage with the community in a positive way? Bring your family in on the decision-making process so that everyone – children included – understands the value of selecting a suitable hotel.

2. Buy local

It’s just that easy: Support local businesses. Be mindful of where you spend your dollars by getting your snacks at a farmers market instead of the massive grocery outlet, by purchasing souvenirs at a boutique rather than a department store, or by eating at a small cafe and skipping the chain restaurant. You’ll support the local community and build a stronger bond with the destination in the process.

3. Embrace the local culture

Connecting with local industry can go beyond just the purchase process; you can experience it as well. Give in-season produce new meaning by visiting a local farm or discover the magic of a fragrant cheddar at a cheese-making factory. Indeed, there’s something to be learned no matter where you go, and it doesn’t have to be in the guidebook or even far from home — to result in a rewarding experience.

4. Seek alternative transport

Reducing your travel carbon footprint can be as easy as changing the way you choose to get around. Forget the taxi or rental car and instead get your family on board with alternative modes of transport that are more environmentally friendly. From the bus to a bike or a tuc-tuc, other methods for getting around not only decrease your effect on the environment but provide you with different ways to interact with the world around you, making for fun adventures in and of themselves!

5. Volunteer your time

Responsible tourism is as much about not negatively affecting a place you visit as it is about positively affecting a place you visit. Bring this notion with you on the road by giving your time to make a difference for the better. Volunteering can include participating in organized activities such as serving at a soup kitchen or even planting gardens to beautify a city. Or it can be as simple as bringing garbage bags with you as you sightsee so that you and your family can pick up litter as you go. For added fun, turn it into a game: whoever collects the most trash, wins. Just don’t forget the hand wipes and sanitizer!

For more great tips on family travel, download your free copy of 101 Family Travel Tips at TravelingMom.com, an online family travel magazine filled with tips and advice from moms who travel with their children. Or visit TravelingDad.com to read an often humorous dads’ perspective on traveling with children.