How to Travel Responsibly
Responsible travel is all about making conscious choices that will benefit the local economy and people of the place you are visiting while reducing the impact on the local environment and culture. It means to make a travel experience beneficial and sustainable for both the traveler and the host country.
Do you want to travel responsibly? Here are some ways you can be a responsible traveler. Always keep an open mind, as it is a continuous learning process.
1. Be a responsible traveler even before you start your journey
Conduct a background check on your tour provider and program, and read reviews from previous travelers. Travel with providers transparent providers who value sustainability, give back to the local communities and are ethical in their practices. Also, research about the country you are visiting. Make sure that you are socially and culturally aware and understand the local laws and regulations. Find out ways you can contribute during your travels.
2. Choose a local provider and services.
The best way to put your income back to the local community is to travel with a local provider and use local services. Hire a local guide and use local transportation, homestays, and laundry services. Buy local goods from local vendors and, if possible, directly from the source itself to avoid middlemen. Try to eat from local restaurants and try the local cuisine to ensure that the money goes directly to the people. This will also allow you to interact with the locals, live in the community, and experience the local ways of life.
3. Reduce your carbon footprint
Airplanes are one of the major contributors to greenhouse gases. To minimize the impact of carbon emissions, try to book direct flights and avoid transfers. Also, use local transportation during your travels. It is more sustainable and cheaper than private cars. You can also opt for eco-friendly options like walking and cycling.
4. Be respectful to the local environment
Do not throw trash on the ground; always find a proper bin to dispose of any garbage. Try to minimize the use of plastic during your travel. Carry a reusable bag and water bottle with you to avoid plastic bottled water and plastic bags during shopping. Do not practice in activities that harm the local environment and animals and beware of wildlife tourism. Try to fix it rather than throwing your worn-out clothes and luggage during your travels.
5. Respect the people and their customs
Respect the local culture and customs even though you may disagree with them personally. Do not conduct actions or dress in a way that is offensive to the local way of life. Do not abuse your travel privileges and display a superiority complex, especially to the poor locals. Always seek permission from the people before taking any photo and avoid sharing any pictures that encourage negative stereotypes.
6. Travel to off the beaten destinations
Mass tourism is often a corporate business and generally harms the place. Try to get away from the tourist hubs and instead travel to off-beaten locations. Seek out local experiences and immerse in the authentic community rather than just taking part in touristic activities. Instead of just meeting with other travelers, make an effort to interact with the locals from all areas of life. This will allow you to overcome language barriers, enhance your communication skills, and provide you with a local insight about a place.
7. Look for ways to give back & facilitate exchange
Facilitate exchange with the locals. Answer their questions honestly and try to share about your country, experiences, and stories. Get involved in educational, community empowerment, recycling, and conservation initiatives. Volunteer with community projects and donate to needy communities. If you have any skills or talent, find ways to share them with the local communities. Make sure your help and contribution target the right area and reach the right people. Be aware of voluntourism and do not encourage begging culture, especially in children.