We travel to explore the beautiful cultures, foods and scenery this fascinating planet offers. However, travel has a significant impact on natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems. The need for responsible and sustainable travel is becoming more and more essential for our planet to survive for future generations.
What is Responsible Travel?
Responsible travel is having social and cultural awareness when you travel, understanding the effects of your travel on the places you visit, and trying to have a positive impact. In a nutshell, responsible tourism tries to both minimize and reverse the negative effects of travel. These can include overcrowding, the destruction of heritage and the environment, globalization, detrimental social change and many others.
Even if you feel you are a responsible tourist, there is always room for improvement as well as new tips, programs and incentives you can get involved in every time you travel. Hopefully, this article will help you feel inspired to always travel responsibly.
Support Local Businesses
This has to be the easiest way to be a responsible traveler! When you’re abroad, consider where you want to spend your money when it comes to meals, snacks, souvenirs, clothing, etc. One of the best ways to make a positive impact on the lives of the residents in the country you’re visiting is to purchase products that are locally grown / made!
Overtourism is just that – too many tourists. Streets are overcrowded, local sites are packed, fragile natural sites are degraded, high rent prices push out locals and the quality of life for the local community can diminish. Consider visiting the popular spots outside of the peak season! There will be less tourists around, you’ll have a better chance of having a positive experience with the locals, and public transport won’t be packed!
Be Mindful Of Local Cultures
Responsible travel is also about being considerate about the local customs and culture. For example, in Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist and some orthodox countries, dress codes must be observed especially when visiting places of worship. It is better to do your research before you travel so that you don’t end up embarrassed or, worst case scenario, offend anyone! If it is possible, also try to learn a few key phrases of the local language to make communication easier for everyone!
Choose Ethical Tour Operators
Try your best to pick a company that works with the local communities, provides them with jobs, and respects the environment. Better yet, opt for a locally owned and operated company. If you’re going on a wildlife tour it’s imperative that you know your guide will be adhering to sustainable and responsible practices!
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Avoiding flights while traveling is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint and be a responsible traveler. However, if you are left with no other choice but to fly, try to reduce your impact on the environment by following a few simple steps like taking a direct flight, carrying less luggage, using public transportation (train, metro line, or bus) once you reach your destination or walking whenever possible!