Responsible Travel

1/ What is Responsible Travel?

Responsible travel is a new way of traveling for those who’ve had enough of mass tourism. It’s about respecting and benefiting local people and the environment – but it’s about far more than that.

Responsible tourism can apply to any type of holiday, from a luxury beach villa to a volunteering project. Responsible tourism simply means holidays that care about local communities & culture as well aswildlife conservation & the environment.

If you travel for relaxation, fulfillment, discovery, and adventure and to learn – rather than simply to tick off ‘places and things’ – then responsible travel is for you.

When we visit beautiful places it’s natural to want our holidays to have a positive impact on local people and their environments. Responsible travel is about more authentic holiday experiences that enable you to get a little bit more out of your travels, and give a little bit more back to destinations and local people. All holidays have positive and negative impacts locally.

Responsible travel maximizes the benefits, and minimizes the negative effects of tourism

2/ Getting more out of your holiday

Responsible travel is about bringing you closer to local cultures and environments by involving local people in tourism. It’s about doing this in a fair way that helps ensure that they will give you an even warmer welcome. For example, a local guide from the destination will open your eyes to their cultures and ways of life far better than an expat guide could ever do – they will also earn a much needed income from you.

The responsible traveller prefers smaller groups, and to meet some local people (as well as fellow travellers) rather than be surrounded by 1000’s of people from back home. They don’t like being herded about in a large crowd like nameless faces and understand that travelling in smaller groups makes local people and cultures more accessible.

The responsible travellers wants to get a little bit more out of their travels, and to give a little bit back to the special places and people that they encounter. They want deeper and more real travel experiences. The responsible traveller values authenticity – experiences integral to local people’s traditions, cultures and rituals – rather than those created for tourism, or those whose existing meanings and uses have become lost as they have been packaged up for tourism.

At the same time the responsible traveller understands that some cultural experiences are best kept private, and that their visit would be an intrusion. They believe that travelling with respect earns them respect.

3/ Responsible travel skills:

Before you book your holiday:

Ask to see the tour operator’s policy for responsible tourism. Make sure it explains how they minimize environmental impacts and support the local economy.

Before you travel:

Read up on local cultures and learn a few words of the local language – travelling with respect earns you respect
Remove all excess packaging – waste disposal is difficult in remote places and developing countries
Ask your tour operator for specific tips for responsible travel in your destination
Ask your tour operator/hotel if there are useful gifts that you could pack for your hosts, local people or schools
Ask your tour operator whether there are local conservation or social projects that you could visit on your trip, and if/how you could help support them

While on holiday:

Hire a local guide – you’ll discover more about local culture and lives, and they will earn an income
Respect local cultures, traditions and holy places – if in doubt ask advice or don’t visit
Use public transport, hire a bike or walk when convenient – its a great way to meet local people on their terms and reduce pollution and carbon emissions
Use water sparingly – its very precious in many countries and tourists tend to use far more than local people
Remember that local people have different ways of thinking and concepts of time, this just makes them different not wrong – cultivate the habit of asking questions.

When you get back:

Write to your tour operator or hotel with any comments or feedback about your holiday, and especially include any suggestions on reducing environmental impacts and increasing benefits to local communities.
If you’ve promised to send pictures or gifts to local people remember to do so, many are promised and not all arrive!
Why not donate to a local project in the area you’ve visited?
Enjoy the memories, reflect on your experience and start planning your next trip.