Hi everyone! Before we begin to post articles about our travel experiences, adventures, and escapades, here's a little reminder to all of us – be a responsible traveler. I believe that traveling is more fun if we are all responsible travelers. Every time we visit or explore a place, we leave an impact, may it be small or big. And what kind of impact would that be? We hope, always hope, that whatever it is, it is something good. We do not want to ruin or desecrate anything, right? As a traveler, I believe that in order for the places we visit to thrive and grow more beautiful, we should be advocates of sustainable tourism. Simple ways you can do to help the local community and to protect nature could go a long way. This will ensure that the future generations will still be able to witness the beauty of these places. Just always remind yourself that even a simple action creates a ripple effect.
Here are some tips to become a more responsible traveler:
1. Research and plan before the trip.
Responsible travel starts with planning. By researching ahead of time, you can make informed choices. Contact operators and people who could give you firsthand knowledge of the place. Consider choosing and booking your trip from operators who support sustainable tourism. Aside from that, research on the Internet about the culture, tradition, politics, do's and don'ts of the local community of your destination. Take time to learn some of the local language as well to be able to engage in conversations with the locals you will meet.
2. Leave it as good, if not better, than you found it.
Keep this in mind. There are many places I have been to that are full of trash because of tourists that do not respect the environment.
Lessen your negative environmental impact. Avoid packing too much to minimize waste. If possible, also avoid buying or bringing disposable plastic. Use a recyclable / eco bag instead of plastic bags. Carry a reusable water bottle. You should also stop disposing litters anywhere. Look for a trash can to throw your garbage and if you cannot find one, put it in your bag until you see a trash can.
Instead of taking taxis every time, why not try to walk if it isn't too far or just use a public transportation? You may even rent a bicycle, if they are offering in the area. It's actually hitting two birds with one stone since it's good for the environment and good for you too (health and budget wise).
Preserve, protect, and conserve. Preserve local and natural resources as much as possible. Protect the natural treasures. Do not buy food and souvenirs that contribute to the endangerment of plants and animals. Conserve energy and water. If you are not using it, turn it off. Support the policy of some hotels to minimize washing of bed sheets and towels.
Respect the local culture, religion, and tradition. Let us remember that people are diverse and we have our own beliefs so kindly respect the locals wherever you go. Be aware and sensitive enough to remind yourself that they may have different ways of doing things than you. It is you who should adopt to their way of life, not the other way around. Follow the local customs. If you have done the first tip, this will be easy.
4. Support the community – do things locally!
The best way you can do to support the community is by eating, sleeping, and shopping locally. By doing this, the money that you spend will go to the local community instead of multinational corporations. Try the local food, buy souvenirs from the local/street vendors, and choose to stay at a small apartment for rent or family-run guest house. If you want some entertainment, check out the community theaters and other local bands performing. Buy your groceries at the local market. These do not just create a more authentic experience for you but also help the community to flourish by supporting the small businesses.
5. Haggling is useful but know the limits.
In some parts of the world, haggling or bargaining is part of the local culture. It can be a great way to save money but it's important to think how far a small bit of cash can go for the local vendor you are purchasing from. It could mean a day's worth of food for their family so please be mindful of that as well. But if you think that the shopkeepers or taxi drivers could be taking advantage of you, then do not hesitate to haggle.
6. Avoid wildlife activities that could harm animals and plants.
Some activities such as riding elephants, swimming with whales or dolphins, and taking photos with tigers and lions are harmful for the animals. Think of the well-being of these animals used for the purpose of irresponsible wildlife tourism before agreeing to take part of such activities. A few minutes of an experience or photo with them could be contributing to a lifetime of unhappiness and pain for the animal. The best thing to help them is to avoid any activity or attraction that are based around animals in captivity.
7. Educate and Listen.
Help educating other travelers, especially those who might not be aware of the consequences of their actions when traveling. Be a good example to them. If you see someone unintentionally doing things that could harm the environment or could disrespect the locals, try to tell him that in a nice way. Education about responsible travel becomes more powerful and helpful when it is spread. This being said, when someone is telling you something about their travel experiences and knowledge, listen carefully. You might learn something new.
The list may seem like it's a way to hinder you from having fun but believe me, if you keep these things in mind, your travel experience will be a much better and more memorable one. Make the most of your traveling and enjoy the whole experience without compromising the sustainability of the places you are visiting.
Let us all help one another to become more responsible travelers ❤