Traveling is an enriching experience. It gives you the chance to explore beautiful places, amazing wildlife, soak up different cultures, and get to know interesting people. But the way you travel has an impact on the environment and the local community. Our top 10 tips to be a responsible traveler will help you respect the environment and the communities of your travel destination!
Whether you are on the road, traveling for three weeks, or two years, volunteering for a meaningful cause will make a positive impact.
If you have experience in healthcare, social work, or education, there are plenty of ways to apply your skills. And even if you aren’t highly qualified, there are still countless ways you can volunteer and make an impact:
Join an ocean clean-up program by the Great Barrier Reef or a reforestation project in the Amazon. Spend a few weeks teaching English in rural schools. Or get in touch with the local NGO and ask if they’re looking for volunteers.
One of the easiest tips to be a responsible traveler is to buy goods from people who make them. Buying local really supports the local economy: choose handicrafts that are locally made instead of buying magnets, keychains, mugs, or shirts that are mass-produced.
When you bargain, be fair with the pricing instead of going for the “best deal.” Remember that these people also have a family to feed. You can also compare the prices first before you buy them.
Eat at a local restaurant instead of going to chain restaurants or fast food joints, and buy groceries in a local farmer’s market.
You won’t only be helping the local economy thrive, but you’re also in for a more authentic travel experience.
If you find yourself in an intense conversation with someone over a couple of bucks, think about how that small bit of cash can help that person much more than you.
If you are the type of traveler that does not mind spending money on a luxury hotel or an expensive drink, be generous enough to give that extra cash to someone selling you a souvenir or as a tip for your tour.
On the other hand, although it may be hard to stop yourself from giving money to beggars (or even to children) on the streets, it’s not always the best idea. It encourages them to constantly ask tourists and travelers for cash. A lot of times, the money that you give them isn’t even for them.
If you really want to help out, a better alternative is to buy these beggars some food and water to drink. You can also contact the local NGO to coordinate a project that is more constructive than handing out money or donations.
Be Mindful of Wildlife Activities
When planning your trip overseas, many people dream of riding elephants, swimming with dolphins, or having their photos taken with a tiger. These are irresponsible activities, however, that harm wildlife animals.
Wildlife tourism is a huge business nowadays with operators thinking prioritizing money over the well-being of these animals. Supporting these activities will simply continue the cycle.
If you’re interested in getting close to wildlife, choose a wildlife sanctuary with a good reputation. There are plenty of them out there!
Respect the Local Culture
One of travel’s greatest rewards is learning about different cultures, beliefs, and religions.
Keep in mind how important it is to show your respect for local customs and traditions while you travel.
Some countries are quite conservative about how they dress and conduct themselves, and wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts are considered inappropriate.
Also don’t expect locals in a foreign country to understand English or your native tongue. So take your time to become familiar with the local language. Just a simple “hello” or “thank you” can do wonders.
Read up on the customs of a particular place to make sure that you do not accidentally offend someone with your actions.
The tourism industry alone contributes to 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions, with flights responsible for a quarter of that.
Some airline companies ask travelers for donations to support environmental improvement schemes to help reduce the carbon footprint of air travel.
Although flights release a large amount of carbon on the atmosphere, making an indirect donation to energy efficiency and other projects can help counter that.
To be more mindful of your carbon footprint, fly with an airline carrier that has a great emission reduction record. Combine trips to travel destinations that are close and opt for direct flights rather than, rather than flying twice in the same region. You can skip planes and travel by train or bus.
Items like soap, deodorants, and sunscreen pollute the waterways. Fortunately, you can switch to more environment-friendly alternatives to these products.
To be a more responsible traveler, you have to look for alternatives. Don’t use plastic to organize your luggage. Try using packing cubes instead.
You might also want to consider packing light as this minimizes fuel consumption and reduces your carbon footprint. This carry-on option is a great way to pack! Check our ultimate packing list for more information about what to bring.
Choose Sustainable Travel Organizations
Choosing the right travel organization should go beyond the most fascinating travel experience. Find businesses that actively partner with the local community and have sustainable practices that support the environment.
Keep an eye out for organizations that donate part of their profits to charities and pay their local staff wages that are above average!
While it may take some time to find organizations that align with your values, the benefits will be worth it. You’ve also come to the right place! Volunteer World offers over 1600 sustainable travel opportunities, and they’re just a click away.
Leave No Trace
When traveling, it is important to adopt the “leave no trace” mindset. Don’t litter, don’t carve out anything, and don’t leave a physical trace. Just enjoy the moment. Do you agree this is one of the easiest tips to be a responsible traveler?
Part of being a responsible traveler is also spreading awareness and educating others. Fortunately, responsible travel is becoming more and more mainstream and many people are looking for ways to travel more sustainable. You’ll find a lot of people that are curious about your responsible traveling habits.
Small actions go a long way which is why your responsible travel choices can make a significant impact. Which top tips to be a responsible traveler do you already do and which ones will you take on? Tell us in the comments below!