We’re a global economy now, and the ability to travel to the furthest corners of the world has become increasingly easier over the years. Some of the greatest sites in the world have limits to the number of tourists they allow so that they can preserve those locations. As such, you can imagine the amount of strain and damage that tourist traffic can incur.
If we think we have a responsibility to see the world, then it stands that we also have a responsibility to do our part to preserve it. What follows is a guest post that touches on just this topic: responsible travel. You can go anywhere you want, just keep in mind the responsibility you have.
More people can travel across the world nowadays, which means that there are now more travelers to service. All of those travelers together have an impact not only on the tourism industry but on the world. Without practicing responsible travel, tourist places will get damaged, and it may be harder to enjoy these beautiful spots again.
Thus, every traveler’s responsibility is to be as caring and careful when traveling as possible. On that note, here are nine actionable tips for sustainable, responsible travel, so that we can continue to see the world, check off our bucket lists, and protect it at the same time.
Think About These To Travel Responsibly
1 – Reduce your carbon footprint
When you board a flight, you don’t think about the carbon footprint that the plane you are riding on generates for that one flight. To travel the world, though, you sometimes have no other choice but to fly.
Although you can’t avoid boarding a plane, it doesn’t mean that you can’t reduce the carbon footprint that you contribute to making. There are plenty of responsible travel practices that you can apply that will help reduce the carbon footprint you generate during a trip.
For example, you should try and get a direct route to wherever you need to go because the plane landing and taking off is the part that uses the most fuel. If you plan on traveling locally or in the same country, try to use a train or a bus to get to your next local destination instead of a plane. Within a city, attempt to use public transportation. In addition, you can try to fly with only a carry-on and backpack to reduce not only the load you have to carry but also the load that ends up on the plane.
2 – Combat overtourism
More and more people can travel around the world. However, the side effect of more people being able to travel is that some places have to deal with overtourism. Overtourism is a term that refers to the phenomenon of too many tourists in a single destination.
Since there are many tourists in a particular place, that area will have a higher cost of living. For tourists, it might not be such a big deal, but for locals, it is. In addition, especially for world heritage sites, high tourist traffic can contribute to the deterioration of the site – leading to higher spending for preservation.
As such, knowing that this can happen, especially in popular destinations, you may plan to travel to these areas in the offseason to reduce the traffic during peak times; you may also decide to focus on local shopping and food options so that tourist traps do not continue to take away from local sales.
3 – Respect the local culture
Before traveling to a country that you’ve never been to before, try and research the local culture first. Educating yourself about the intricacies of their culture is a form of respect for that particular country. Aside from that, it also helps to open up your mind, widen your perspective on the world, and overall contribute to your personal growth.
Look up things such as customs that might offend the locals so that you can avoid them. It would be best if you also researched basic phrases or words in their local language before going. Researching the local culture beforehand is one of the best ways you can be a more mindful and responsible traveler.
4 – Stay in sustainable accommodation.
Another responsible travel practice is to stay in sustainable accommodations during your travels. There are a lot of sustainable accommodations available everywhere. For example, staying at a local guesthouse or smaller hotels in the area is more sustainable than staying in a massive hotel.
If you were going to be staying in the middle of a more natural area, you should look up eco-lodges that are more environmentally friendly. The best way to find these eco-lodges is by looking for local indigenous communities and the availability of their accommodations in those areas.
5 – Purchase locally made products
Supporting locally made products or local businesses from where you are traveling is another way you can be a responsible traveler. Supporting family-run businesses is gratifying because you know you aren’t serving or making an already-rich enterprise even richer with your money. You’re helping a family.
Besides the fact that you are supporting locals when you buy their products or try their services, you’re also getting a more authentic experience. In effect, you know you aren’t getting a manufactured version of the local culture.
6 – Consider volunteering some of your time.
If you’re going to be staying in a specific country for more than two weeks, you might want to consider volunteering some of your time. There are plenty of consoles or non-profit organizations that could use your help. It will be even better if you have a skill that would help in any way.
When volunteering, make sure that you are fully aware of what you’re signing up for so that you don’t back out right when they expect you to be there.
7 – Think and go green
Any responsible traveler should know that traveling isn’t the most environmentally-friendly activity out there. As mentioned before, the flights alone create quite a lot of carbon emissions. However, you can do your part by going green in other ways.
It doesn’t have to be anything too complicated. It can even be something as simple as supporting luggage brands that use eco-friendly materials and source ethical labor to make their products.
Another way you can go green is by not purchasing plastic water bottles. Instead, get yourself a reusable water container and refill that. That way, you aren’t contributing to plastic waste around the world.
8 – Leave no trace
When you’re traveling, you should avoid leaving behind any trace, especially when you are hiking or are in the middle of any natural site. Aside from not littering, it would be best to avoid things such as carving your name on walls or writing your initials somewhere.
Aside from not leaving anything, you should also avoid disturbing nature by bringing home sand or rocks or whatever from where you’ve been.
9 – Refrain from over-bargaining
There are plenty of places all over the world where you would benefit from having sharp bargaining skills. In some areas, it is even part of their culture to bargain for a lower price. However, it would be best if you thought about whether an item is worth bargaining over or not.
In some places, that extra dollar that you want to be reduced could go a long way. If it’s relatively cheap and the price isn’t offending, maybe you shouldn’t haggle over the price.
There is more to responsible travel than those on this list, but starting with the ones here should get you far. Next time you travel, try and think about your trip’s ripple effect and reduce the adverse effects you get.
That self-awareness will help you get far without disrespecting other cultures and the environment.
Images courtesy of unsplash
Geraldine Mills is a travel enthusiast from the land down under, Australia! She funds her wanderlust by working as a travel writer. She loves sharing the allure of backpacking and being one with nature. Visit this website to check out her other published articles.