In this new era of travelling it is important to do proper research in order to make sure that you travel responsibly to make travel sustainable for years to come. In this article, a couple of points is stipulated to help you make the best of your trip – whilst planning and even after returning home.
Before You Book Your Travel:
- Research your route. Try to find the most direct route to your destination, and avoid internal flights where possible. Air travel is one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions, and most carbon is emitted during take-off and landing.
- Offset your carbon emissions. For flights you cannot avoid, offset your carbon footprint.
- Ask about your tour operator’s commitment to responsible tourism. Ask them how they minimize impacts to – and help – the environment, wildlife and local communities.
- Ask your hotel 10 simple questions to find out if they are really eco-friendly!
Before You Travel:
- Learn a few words of the local language. This shows respect, which will earn you respect.
- Remove all excess packaging, especially if hiking or camping. Some places will have few places to dispose of trash; doing so beforehand ensures you won’t be carrying the excess yourself or dumping waste.
- Ask your tour operator for tips on how to travel responsibly to and throughout your destination. They may have great advice they can dispense, based on their experience with the local culture, environment and people.
- Ask your tour operator if there are useful gifts you can pack from home, for local communities hosts and/or schools.
- Ask your tour operator if there are special projects that you can help out with while traveling.
- Learn the difference between “tourist” and “traveler”. A tourist sticks out like a sore thumb. A traveler learns about his/her destination and immerses themselves in the place and culture. Be a traveler: learn about where you are going and brace yourself for the differences between that place and your home. Don’t just observe; learn.
During Your Trip:
- Buy local produce and goods where possible, to support local communities.
- Hire a local guide – you will learn more about your destination, and they will earn an income.
- Learn about the products that are illegally traded or endangered to ensure you don’t inadvertently buy them.
- Respect local cultures and holy places. If you’re in doubt, don’t visit.
- Use public transportation, or bike or walk when possible.
- Cultivate the habit of asking questions. It’s ok to not always have the answer!
When You Get Home:
- Thank your local guide, tour operator, or any hosts you met along the way.
- Give feedback and comments to the tour operators, especially if you have tips on how they can be more sustainable.
- If you have promised to send gifts upon your return, please do so. Keeping your word is good for your image abroad.
- If you feel inclined, donate to a program that is supporting a place or community that you visited
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