Responsible Travel Tips

Most people want to travel responsibly and ‘do good’ on their travels. By following a few sets of simple rules you will be able to travel more responsibly and, in many cases, travelling responsibly will also enhance your travel experience.

Even though they’re primarily aimed at volunteer travellers, our friends at Learning Service have developed a series of short educational videos with travel tips we find very useful.

In short, responsible travel maximises the benefits, and minimises the negative impacts of tourism. From experience, we have seen that travelling can be an eye-opening experience and your trip doesn’t necessarily stop the moment you get home. Simply following a few simple travel tips will ensure that you are more likely to have a memorable holiday that also will benefit the local destination you are visiting whilst travelling and, importantly, after you get back home.

Before you travel

Do your research
Read up on the destinations you’re visiting before you travel. Look into the culture, history, customs and legends, and you will find that it will make your travels more interesting and meaningful.

Learn the local language
Whilst it’s perfectly possible to get by most places without learning any of the local lingo, the locals will appreciate your efforts and it’s a good way to connect with local people. Basic words like ‘Hello’, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ can go a long way.

Travel light
Don’t pack everything you think you perhaps might need. Travelling light will reduce carbon emissions and it just makes your travels a whole lot easier. Go through what you already have and avoid buying anything you don’t need. Buying locally is a also good way to support the local economy, so try to use local shops whenever possible.

Remove all excess packaging
Waste disposal is a global issue and especially so in more remote places and developing countries.

Choose a responsible tour operator and accommodation providers
Look for local hotels and tour operators with a written responsible tourism policy that explains their environmental impact and how they support the local economy.

Whilst travelling

Support the local economy
Stay at locally owned accommodation providers, visit local markets, make sure to buy local products, use local tour guides and eat at local restaurants. You might also find local tour and accommodation providers with pro-active takes on responsible tourism.

Respect local culture and traditions
Dress modestly, especially when visiting temples and holy places. Cover your shoulders and knees when entering religious sites. Respect local customs and beliefs. Ask permission before taking photos. If in doubt, ask your local guide or hotel staff for advice.

Speak the local language
You practised it, and now it’s time to speak it. It’s a great way to break the ice and create conversations with local people. They will appreciate you putting in the extra effort.

Reduce, reuse and recycle
If you do it at home, make sure to continue to do it on your travels. Water is a commodity, so consider your water consumption. Bring a refillable drinking bottle to reduce the use of plastic bottles. Consider getting reusable straws and make sure you carry a reusable shopping bag when out and about to avoid single-use plastic. Reuse your towels and make sure to turn off lights and air-condition when not needed.

Back home

Share your experiences
Share your responsible travel experiences with others and recommend responsible travel companies, accommodation providers, shops and restaurants for others to enjoy.

Give something back
Travelling can be an eye-opening experience and you can continue your support by creating awareness and making a donation to local charities in the destinations you’ve visited.

Plan your next trip
Reflect on your experiences. Make a list of what you did use the most and what you didn’t use so much so you don’t pack too much next time, and make sure to include some Responsible Travel Tips when planning your next trip.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How do I know if 'green' places really are green?
    Unfortunately, there are no bulletproof ways to tell unless you do a bit of research before you travel. Many hotels, restaurants, tour operators and travel agents will, however, publish some of their awards and accolades on their website. Proactive companies would, in general, also be happy to tell you more about the various projects and initiatives they have implemented and work with and explain their environmental impact and how they support the local economy.

  • Can I really save the world in a couple of days?
    Unfortunately, no. We’d love to be able to save the world ourselves, but what we can do is provide you with loads of responsible travel tips (of which we hope you will share with your friends, family and fellow travellers) and put you in touch with vetted organisations that will help you learn more about the destinations you are travelling to. Then it’s up to you to continue the good work after you’ve come back from your travels.
  • What's your take on 'orphanage tourism'?
    Most people want to travel responsibly and ‘do some good’ whilst travelling. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous people take advantage on their generosity and genuine want to do good. For some, ‘a visit to an orphanage’ has even become an integral part of the tourist trail without thinking about the potential consequences. In line with current research, we don’t think children should be tourist attractions and, therefore, we strongly encourage people to do some research and learn more about the unintended consequences of people visiting (and volunteering at) orphanages. If in doubt, chances are that there are better ways to use your enthusiasm and, thus, benefit the local community in a more efficient manner.

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