How to be a responsible traveller. We all have a part to play in being responsible travellers and it is important that we all do our best. If we all make a commitment to be more responsible, then the places we visit will be preserved for the locals who live and work there and those who choose to travel there in the future.
Being a responsible traveller is very simple, it all comes down to making better choices, from where you spend your money, to the way you communicate to locals and the tour companies and activities you choose to do. Here are just a few ways you can contribute. There are many more ways but these are the simplest.
How to be a responsible traveller
Always buy local
Whether you want a souvenir or you’re feeling hungry, buying local is really important. By purchasing locally sourced and locally made products you are helping the local economy. If you choose to drink coffee at Starbucks every day or eat at McDonald’s every day then these large, multi-million dollar corporations continue to get richer. Supporting local businesses is the easiest way to be a responsible traveller. This also means choosing to stay in independent hotels over big four and five-star chain hotels that you could stay in anywhere in the world.
Learn the basics of the local language
Knowing a few phrases of the language is a big deal. The local people you are conversing with will appreciate the effort you have made. Most people won’t mind if you are pretty terrible at it, as long as they can see you are trying. Simple pleasantries like hello, thank you and goodbye will go a long way. Just put yourself in their shoes, imagine tourists coming up to you in your home town and speaking in their native language and expecting you to understand them, it doesn’t sound great, does it? I have previously written an article on this, you can read it below:
Don’t give money to beggars
This can be quite overwhelming at times. Seeing dirty young children asking for money on the streets. As hard as it may be to ignore them, giving them money can actually make their situation and others in the same situations worse. On a recent Intrepid tour to Morocco, we were told by our guide to never give beggars money. He told us that we would be followed by young kids asking for money or trying to sell us things. We were told that young kids like them stop going to school to get an education and instead beg tourists for money. Giving a young child or beggar money may help them in the short term but it doesn’t help them in the long term. The best way to help is to support the local community by donating money to a local school or clinic. Or by supporting local initiatives that can teach locals how to make money in a more sustainable way.
Use public transport
Riding on a public bus or catching the local metro train is a great way to experience a city and experience the daily life of a local. Public transport is always much cheaper than catching a taxi or hiring a car and it is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Public transport should be utilised as much as possible. If you can’t use public transport then hire a bike or walk. Both of these methods are good for your health and discovering things you probably never knew existed. They are also another way of reducing your carbon footprint.
Leave only footprints
Take care of the local environment and leave it the way it was before you arrived. That means always taking your rubbish with you. Avoid using plastic bags, use alternatives to plastics where possible. Recycle wherever you can and try to minimise the amount of waste you produce. It also means staying on designated walking tracks and not picking flowers, or taking shells from the beach. The only thing you should leave behind is your footprints.
Choose ethical tour operators
A really great way to be a responsible traveller is to choose an ethical tour operator and know what organisations and activities you’re supporting. Companies like Intrepid Travel and G Adventures pride themselves on being responsible travel operators. They invest in local businesses and grassroots projects, they hire local guides and they support wildlife conservation and human rights initiatives. Another positive about them is they travel in small groups, they use public transport and they stay in small, independent hotels. Before signing up to any tour or doing any activity research the company and know its values. Avoid supporting zoos that don’t support conservation efforts or activities that exploit animals like elephant riding.
How to be a responsible traveller
Thanks so much for reading about how to be a responsible traveller. These things are really important for all of us to do and they make travelling to these places much more sustainable so that future generations can enjoy them too.