How can you be a responsible traveler?
Through the ways we travel, the regions we decide to cover, and the choices we make on how to spend our money and where can have a tremendous positive impact on communities and families that are not as fortunate as we are. There’s a name for it – Responsible Travel.
Being responsible is not just about cultural faux pas but about making a positive impact on a destination; bringing benefits to the locals and not running down natural resources. In simple words, it is giving more than you take. There are several ways travelers can help make a difference by simply being more mindful and educated about the decisions they make while travelling.
Volunteer some of your time.
Doesn’t matter if you are travelling for two weeks or a year, volunteering a portion of your time to worthwhile causes with non-profit organizations can make a difference. If you have skills that might be useful, like medical experience, an engineering background, or have worked in social care, there are a whole array of avenues you can choose to help put your expertise to someone’s good.
When it comes to eating, sleeping, or buying souvenirs, where you chose to put your money has a big impact on the community. By opting to have dinner at a hole-in-the wall eatery, staying in a family-run motel, or purchasing a bead bracelet from a street vendor, you are helping to shoot up money directly into the local economy. In addition to helping someone shape a better future, going local also creates a more authentic travel experience for yourself.
Be careful with your wildlife activities.
While knitting abroad travel plans, it’s common to dream of riding elephants, taking photos with tigers or swimming with seals and dolphin. However, these irresponsible activities often do more harm than good. While wildlife tourism is a budding business, most of these business operators think about the profits before the well-being of animals. Don’t forget that for one hour of amusement for yourself, you could be contributing to a lifetime of distress and abuse for the animal.
Respect the local culture.
One of the greatest pleasures we can have while travelling is learning about different religions and cultures. It is an astonishing feeling to be privileged enough to experience diverse and fascinating cultures. We must never forget how important it is to show respect to those local traditions and customs when we travel. Study the customs and etiquettes of where you are travelling to ensure you don’t inadvertently offend anyone.
Manage your waste.
Waste management is still a major issue in the developing countries, and we as travelers often unknowingly contribute to this already grave problem. Say no to plastic bags from shops and instead put your stuff in a backpack or a cloth bag. While these all may seem tedious, you can start with small efforts like eating in a café rather than going for a takeaway or carrying a reusable water bottle.
Travel with a sustainable operator.
It maybe a little difficult but it is not impossible to find a sustainable travel agency. Try to connect with an agency that actively works with local communities or have practices that help protect the environment. For instance, they may choose to only employ local guides or workers from nearby villages. Some organizations even donate share of their profits to charitable campaigns or pay their staffs above-average wages.