A focus in tourism – rightly – is on responsible travel. Awareness is the first step whether you are a new or seasoned traveler. Here are the seven best practices to follow.
- Understand local customs and culture before you go.
Be in the know. Research the local culture and customs before going to the place. Learn how to behave, dress, and interact with the locals. RESPECT can bridge cultural differences and allow you to connect meaningfully with people.
Taking pictures is good but it is advisable to ask permission first, as it may be a “no-no” to some cultures. Always ask before entering an area of cultural significance. Practice saying “thank you”, “please”, “can I” – it is more pleasing to the ears and will endear you with the locals, no matter how bad your pronunciation!
2. Choose eco-friendly accommodation.
For responsible travel, choosing to stay in eco-conscious hotels or lodges is an effective way to minimize negative effects associated with travel.
Sadly there is a lot of “Green-washing” with hotels jumping on the bandwagon that are not as green or sustainable as they claim. You can do your own research, or book through Hands Up Holidays, as we have vetted the eco-luxury properties that we feature and recommend.
3. Counterbalance your carbon footprint.
Flying is frequently a feature of traveling and sadly airlines are a major contributor to CO2 emissions. You can offset these emissions. Make sure you observe these.
Some airlines sell carbon credits when you buy an air ticket, they give you the option to buy carbon credits or to donate to carbon-offsetting organizations.
And when you book with Hands Up Holidays your trip if fully offset through our partner, Climate Stewards.
4. Reduce waste.
Be intentional in choosing accommodations with effective waste management solutions. It is essential in helping reduce environmental impact in the tourism industry.
As a traveler, you should be mindful not to add to the waste problem of the planet by improperly disposing your trash. Bring along your own reusable water bottles, cups and even straws to eliminate the need for disposable ones and reduce your own waste production.
There are certain countries that ban the use of plastic bags and containers so bringing your own reusable bags is suggested so there’s no need for plastic bags when shopping.
Watch this video from National Geographic on how to avoid single use plastics when traveling.
5. Conserve water.
Especially in locations facing water shortages (there aren’t many places in the developing world that aren’t!) choose to stay at eco-luxury hotels with sustainable water practices, such as rainwater harvesting systems and proper greywater and blackwater treatment methods. On a personal level, you too can help in water conservation by using water responsibly. As simple as turning off the water while you washing your face or brush your teeth can make a great contribution to a community’s water conservation efforts.
6. Go local.
This includes buying local produce, locally made souvenirs, and using local guides. This is a key part of Hands Up Holidays’ responsible travel policy – all trips are led by local guides, who are experts and you will appreciate their “local knowledge” of the best places to eat and sights to see.
7. Give back.
Through volunteering, supporting conservation projects, assisting wildlife, building a home, helping at a soup kitchen, teaching or renovating a school, there are many ways you can help and make a difference. giving back can deeply enrich your own experience, and leave your chosen destination better off. Even small things and gestures can go a long way.
Be the Change
Responsible travel can be done. These are just few simple things you can do to make a positive impact while traveling without unduly sacrificing your convenience. As tourism and its impacts grow, responsible traveling becomes more popular and indispensable. Do a small part to help so that your children and your children’s children will someday still enjoy the same clean air you breath, the clear water you drink and the great experiences that you have.