Responsible travel is about the attitude you take and the choices you make when travelling. With billions of people travelling every year, it’s imperative to respect and benefit local people, their cultures, their economy and help protect their environment. After taking many trips all over the world, I’ve learned a valuable lesson; that travellers can affect and help make a big impact by doing small things every day. With that, here are five simple and easy ways you can travel more responsibly and help join the movement of responsible tourism.
1. Make Environmentally Conscious Decisions
Take care of the environment as you would you own home. Make sure you leave a destination with all that you took into it, and use alternatives to plastic by using re-usable shopping bags. Some tour companies like Intrepid Travel offer their passengers a re-usable bag at the beginning of their trips so they can use it to carry their purchased goods from markets and eliminate the need for plastic bags throughout their trip.
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.
2. Support Local
Support locally owned businesses, hotels, restaurants and other services. Eat local food and drink local brands and brews. By doing so, you help keep the money being spent in the local community, which will help sustain it. Shop from traditional artisans and for locally made products, helping keep traditional crafts alive. Don’t buy products made from endangered species and favour local products over imported items as often as possible.
3. Re-Think Your Transportation
Remember that travelling affects the environment. Wherever possible, try to minimize your impact on it by looking to alternative transportation and off-setting your carbon emissions. Use public transport, rent a bike or walk where convenient. You’ll meet local people while getting to know the destination better. I find I’m much more aware of my surroundings when I’m walking or biking. Also try to avoid riding animals (like elephants in India, Thailand etc) as these animals are usually treated poorly and mainly used for tourism.
4. Give Back
As hard as it may be, we wary of giving gifts or money to beggars, children and people you have just met. Supporting the community through a local school, clinic or development project may be more constructive. Tour companies like Intrepid Travel and G Adventures offer this option on most of their tours and I can promise you it will be one of the most fulfilling and memorable parts of your trip.
5. Spread the Word
Share your responsible travel tips with friends and family! In addition to telling them all about the wonderful memories you made, consider sharing tips on how they too can positively impact the world while travelling. I find that sharing my photos from the trip really helps to tell the story better. If you were moved by a particular destination or organization, consider contributing to them again when you return home by donating online or through the tour company you travelled with.
At the end of the day, travel will no doubt open your eyes to what’s really happening in the world around you. If you want to do even more to help sustain local communities and the environment, consider taking a volunteer holiday with our friends over at GoVoluntouring or continue to travel with companies that value responsible tourism and build these elements into their itineraries. For more information, talk to a Flight Centre Travel Expert by visiting your closest store, connecting with them online, or calling 1-877-967-5302