Now, the main question is How do you travel responsibly?
Well, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about responsible travelling. People think it is something for which you will have to give up things which looks like an extreme or unrealistic effort.
The funny part is people think responsible travelling is about never travelling on a plane locally because of the carbon emissions. Really? The idea is noble – yes, there is absolutely no denying for that, but is it realistic? No it is not.
If you will try and achieve something huge like this, which seems to involve a lot of efforts, you will get tired and will not even try to make those small changes that can actually have huge impacts. So, lets focus on small things.
Another huge misconception about being a responsible traveler is to travel backpacker style, which mean low budgets, and keep your travel as basic as possible. Dude, this counts for an adventurous trip, not responsible travelling.
Take baby-steps and once you are ready to imbibe the idea of being a responsible traveller, that is when you can take those giant steps which can save environment.
Now here are ways to become a responsible traveller:
- Research the cultural norms of each place you’re visiting: Talk to locals, learn at least a small amount of their language.
- Source your food, souvenirs, and tours from locals. Spending money at your destination is the best way to infuse money directly into the local economy. I am not saying splurge it, but yes, please spend.
- There are many hotels that have sustainability programs, research on them and if possible, try and stay in them
- Respect the people, culture and environment of the places you visit.
- When you book a tour, ask the operator or company if they are environmentally responsible and are eco-friendly
- Save Water
- Please try to be empathetic towards locals and understand their culture: if you are in middle east somewhere -> try to wear cloths that suits their culture, and thats the minimum you can do to show your respect
- Needless to mention this one but please put your trash where it belongs. Many countries lack a strong waste management infrastructure, and even if the locals dispose of garbage in rivers and mountains, you as a responsible traveller take the extra step to dispose yours responsibly.
- In many places, some of the activities specially the ones that involves animals are dangerous, questionably ethical, and often exploitative. Now analyze the impact of such activities before participating. Like in many asian countries, it’s common to see tourists riding an elephant or hugging a tiger— and these are part of mainstream tourism. Just see what did it take to get the animal there and is it being treated humanely.
- Over tourism in peak seasons really pushes the capacity of place you are visiting. Try to travel in off-peak seasons, trust me it will be more enjoyable for you as well. I have travelled many times to places that people told me would be horrible in off-season, but they turned out to be fine in fact great in some cases like Egypt!
These are just few ways to include responsible travel on your next trip. You know what, it’s not just about the actions, but also about your commitment and adherence to the idea!
At every step of your travel different situations will arise and it’s up to you to decide how to take them forward: as a responsible traveler or just any other person travelling. Let us set an example for other travellers who are less aware of their impact on the people and places they visit!