Travelling comes at a cost, and not just to the traveller. You can have a huge impact on the destination that you go to. It’s important that we try to have as positive an effect as we can when we travel. So here’s Angie, who gives us her tips on how to become a more responsible traveller:
Whenever we go on a holiday we have an impact on the country we visit. With the way we act we can determine if that impact is positive or negative. I’ve travelled around the globe for the better part of my twenties and early thirties before I gave birth to my wonderful kids (I have to keep repeating that sentence when they wake me up at 3 am asking to hug their Peppa). In that time, I picked up a few things on how you can be a responsible tourist and have that take nothing away from your holiday, but only add to it. Simple things, like riding a bike in Amsterdam and not renting a car, or just using the city’s public transport.
1. Appreciate The Place You Are In, Respect The Local Culture
In today’s Instagramable world it’s easy to just hunt for a picture-perfect view and not really think about its history and what it means to the locals. There may be a good mountain top that has a good view of the city or valley but it could also have a more spiritual meaning to the local people and hiking up there might be offensive or forbidden. If it’s however ok to go, then take a moment and enjoy it. Too many times we spend hours getting somewhere just to get 7 selfies and maybe a panoramic shot and seldom we stop and just breathe it in.
2. Buy From The Locals
Before you book a hotel at some chain hotel conglomerate do your research. Try to find a local guesthouse or a hostel run by a local family. Try to avoid Airbnb’s. I know they are the easiest, and sometimes cheapest alternatives when you want to stay somewhere but trust me they are bad for the local economy. Eat at the local “hole in the wall” restaurants. One of the best meals I had was at this tiny Thai place in Berlin, owned and run by a mother and daughter team (mother basically shouting at the daughter while she prepared our lunch). And it was the best and most authentic Thai meal I ever had, which my travel companion confirmed (he lived there for about half a year).
Not only do you get to eat authentic food but you actually help the local economy. And when you see a local vendor in the street sell magnets or other similar trinkets that are specific for the place you are in, just buy a few, they are usually not that expensive and they make great tiny gifts for your friends.
3. Don’t Litter
Literally this. Even if the place you are at is dirty, and you notice trash on the streets, you shouldn’t be contributing to it. Have a bag with you where you will put your trash in if you notice there aren’t much trash cans about. Say no to plastic bags from shops and always put the items you will buy in your bag or backpack.
4. Be Careful With The Local Wildlife
When you book a trip to an exotic place you often think “Oh man, riding an elephant is gonna be rad”(that’s ugh, how young people talk right), or taking a selfie with a tiger might look cool, but we rarely think of the impact that might have on the animals themselves. These activities are stressful for the animals! They didn’t choose to be ridden all day and be hit with a stick, the selfies just aren’t worth it. Better yet, try to find a local NGO or nonprofit, and donate money to a sanctuary, to ease the impact of other not so conscience minded tourists.
So In Conclusion
It’s not that hard to be a responsible traveller, you just need to do a little extra research on the places you go to and the culture you will experience. You can go out and have a great holiday knowing that you will have a positive impact wherever you go. With your positive example you are sure to inspire others, and with over 1.5 billion tourists every year (estimated in 2020) we are going to have to.
Angie is a technical writer who loves to travel and brag about it whenever she can. She graduated from sociology, but instead of becoming a professor she became a mother by day and a writer by night.