Whether you are planning a trip of a lifetime or a weekend vacation with the family, responsible travel can make a significant difference in the community and environment that you visit.
Being a responsible traveler means more than just offsetting your carbon emissions, it requires thought and preparation. Responsible travel is based on the principles of sustainability and it requires you to examine the environmental, social and economic dimensions of your trip. Responsible travel is all about minimizing the negative impact of your travel and maximizing the benefits for local economies, environments and host communities.
Before you go
- Consider your carbon footprint when using air travel as your flight will do more damage to the environment than any other aspect of your trip. See if your airline is working with organizations like: Carbon Clear, Climate Care, or Sustainable Travel International.
- Minimize your flying times and stopovers. The worst carbon emissions are emitted during take off and landing.
- Find out as much as possible. Educate yourself about the destination you are visiting by reading guidebooks and travel articles: history, culture, religion, natural environment, geography, politics, ecosystems , local customs legends, advisory notices and more.The more you know about your destination before arriving, the more the place will come alive.
- Learn a few words in the local language. Making an effort to speak the local language allows you to interact with the people who know the place best. People appreciate your efforts and your interest in learning. Simple words like “Hello,”“Please” and “Thank you” can go a long way.
- Pack light. It is tempting to pack everything you think you might need, but remember to be smart about your necessities. Packaging items like the paper box to your film or the plastic wrapping of your new toothbrush simply consume space in your bag and can create excess trash for the environment that you visit.
- Think carefully about what’s appropriate in terms of your clothes you pack. You’ll earn respect and be more readily welcomed by local people
- See your tour operator’s policy for responsible travel. Make sure it also explains how they support the local economy.
- Lodging choices. Ask your lodge or hotel a few questions:
- How many or what is the percentage of local employees?
- What is the contribution to conservation or local people you are most proud of?
- Where do you get your food products? Ask your tour operator about local conservation groups you could visit during your trip.
- Explore transportation options. Remember that travelling affects the environment. Wherever possible, try to minimize your pollution and impact on the environment by looking to alternative transportation and off-setting your carbon emissions.
While you are there
- Engage in local culture. The saying, “While in Rome do as the Romans” still applies today. Your trip provides a unique opportunity to explore a new culture and to see the world through a different perspective. Remember that eating local foods, shopping in local markets, and attending local festivals are all part of experiencing the culture.
- Buy local products then you’ll have a one-of-a-kind experience and your money will go directly to the community. Before purchasing goods, ask about their origin. Avoid buying products made from threatened natural resources or endangered species.
- Hire local guides. Enrich your experience by choosing local guides who are knowledgeable about the destination. Ask local tour operators and hotels for good recommendations.
- Respect the natural environment. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Even though you are just visiting and not paying the utility bill, disposing of your garbage properly and minimizing your consumption of water and energy will benefit the overall destination.
- Respect sacred and holy places. Ask before entering or taking pictures.
- Do not dispose your batteries. Try and use electronics with solar energy. If it is not an option, use rechargeable batteries and charge extra sets before the trip.
- Shop at local markets for your souvenirs.
- Refrain from aggressive bargaining. if you’re not sure your limits in bargaining, ask your local hotel for tips. Remember that the purchases you make directly affect vendors’ livelihoods, so decide if you really need to hang onto that extra dollar or just help the local vendor.
- When walking or hiking, stay on the trails. This will help preserve the natural beauty of the land.
- Be friendly and open minded. Many customs, traditions and way of life that might seem weird to you are completely normal to locals. Enjoy and embrace all differences.
When you get home
- Distribute your responsible travel tips. In addition to telling family and friends about the wonderful memories you made, also consider sharing tips on how they too can positively impact the World while having an amazing journey.
- Share your photos. Pictures can say a thousand words.
- Explore more. Travelling is just the start of learning. Once you return home continue exploring and being involved with the issues or region that captured your attention.
- Give back. Travelling often opens your eyes and heart to something new. You can continue to preserve our inspirational environment for generations.
- Make true on your promises. If you met a new friend and said you would keep in contact, do it. If you said you would send pictures, do it. These experiences mean the world to many people.
- Support a program that supports the culture, environment and people of the place you were lucky to visit.
- Write to us and tell us how we did. Give us feedback and let us know where we could be better.