Since the early childhood, everywhere you go, your family, friends and others, always tell you to be responsible, to take care. Be responsible: at school, when you go out with your friends, when you fall in love, when you start any job, get married, become a parent…A real headache! But, when you go on a trip, you just get – Have a nice time, send a postcard, etc. Nobody says – Be responsible while travelling. Interesting, don’t you think?
Luckily, things are stepping forward. Lots of individuals and travel companies are trying to influence others to think globally but act locally. What does it mean? It indicates that travelling is much more than just selfish ‘I’ve come here to enjoy myself’ attitude. It’s a serious set of rules you should follow in order to be a responsible traveller. It includes respect towards environment, local community, cultural heritage and economic needs of the countries you travel to.
Here are some top tips, according to my humble opinion, to help you become a more responsible traveller in the future.
First of all, if you choose to travel with a company or agency, you should check if they have a responsible tourism policy. Before starting, it’s a great idea to learn as much as possible about culture, history, religion and customs of the target country. If you show knowledge of their culture, local people would surely appreciate it and show you respect. It’s also favourable to learn a few words and basic phrases of the local language. People would enjoy your willingness and efforts and friendly smile at your funny accent. Also, learn about appropriate behaviour, clothes and even body language. For example, in India, the left hand is considered to be ‘unclean’. For this reason, you should always use your right hand to greet someone.
In order to support the local community and economy, always eat and drink in local restaurants. Also, hire local guides! It’s better to give them a chance to work than give them charity. When you buy gifts or souvenirs, buy only traditional products. This way, you support and keep traditional crafts alive. But, also, shop smartly and responsibly. Be aware of what you buy and where your money is going. Don’t give your money to restaurants, stores, markets, zoos and other institutions that deprive endangered species.
Respect the environment of the countries you visit as your own home. Don’t throw your waste around, recycle when possible, use alternatives to plastic, use public transport – trains, bikes, in order to reduce air pollution. Use water economically, because water is a vital but often an insufficient resource in many countries.
When you come back from your trip, it’s a great idea to write to the travel company or even hotel with your feedback, remarks and suggestions about positive and negative aspects of your trip. This way they can change the bad things you’ve noticed and support the good ones. The last, and perhaps the most important tip is to contact relevant organizations in case you’ve noticed any kind of violation of human rights or biodiversity.
Being a responsible traveller takes little effort but can leave a profound trace to present and future generations. Think of it and share it!