As a responsible travel company, we couldn’t be happier to see a growing number of travellers wanting to travel responsibly. These travellers aren’t the stereotypical ‘hippies’ – rather, they are ordinary people who want to travel in a sustainable way, while still gaining invaluable cultural and social experiences.
2017 was named the International Year for Sustainable Development for Tourism and we’re really excited! So whether you’re already trying to travel responsibly or you have no idea where to start, we’ve gathered our top 10 tips to help you make the most out of your next trip to be responsible about sustainable travel.
1| Carbon offset your flights
Where possible, opt to carbon offset your flight. Some airlines will have the option to offset when booking. Otherwise, we recommend you look for carbon offset programs, which work towards biodiversity, education, jobs, food security and health & well-being in developing countries.You can also choose to fly economy class, which means that more people are in the aircraft reducing the amount of flights required. Choosing a direct flight over transfer flights reduces the amount of fuel used over distances and take-off. We know it’s not always possible to fly direct – but try where you can! Also, pack light. Every extra gram in your bag adds to your flight’s fuel burn and emissions.
2| Choose the right travel provider
When choosing a travel provider, do your research! Any travel provider who is a member of the following governing bodies is a good place to start: Travelife, Global Sustainable Tourism Council and Eco-Tourism Australia. If you have another travel provider in mind, just make sure they have a detailed responsible tourism policy.
3| Research your hotel
Many hotels these days are jumping onboard the sustainable bandwagon, which is great! The good news is eco-friendly hotels used to be hard to find but now, they’re all over the place. Before picking your hotel, read up on their policies and how they are implementing sustainable initiatives.
4| Bring a water bottle
Did you know more than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans each year? Plastic water bottles are a huge offender so when you travel, bring your own reusable water bottle. If you’re travelling to countries where you know the water might be contaminated, bring some water purifying tablets with you too.
5| Shop locally
Shopping locally is a great way to ensure you’re travelling sustainably. Opt for shopping at local stores rather than huge chains that you can find all over the world.
6| Eat locally
Similar to shopping locally – eat locally! After all, you are there to enjoy the things that are unique to the place you’re visiting. Supporting local food vendors and restaurants is not only sustainable, but it’s also part of immersing yourself in local life.
7| Do your research
Each country has their own rules about engaging with local wildlife. Some countries have strict ‘no feeding the wildlife’ policies while others might not have a huge problem with it. Also, it’s important you research about engaging with local wildlife too. It might seem like an amazing cultural experience to ride elephants or visit a tiger temple in Southeast Asia. However, these animals are kept and bred in incredibly inhumane conditions, so it’s best to avoid at all costs.
8| Respect the local culture
It’s important to respect the local culture by doing a bit of research before you arrive. Did you know in Singapore it’s illegal to spit in public places? You could face fines of up to $1,000. In some Middle Eastern countries, it is expected that a woman covers her head – even tourists. When visiting a Buddhist Temple you must cover your shoulders, chest and knees. Just be wary – not respecting the local culture is disrespectful, can cost money and even land you in jail in some instances.
9| Do not participate in orphanage tourism
What a lot of travellers don’t know is that orphanage tourism is a huge problem. Many people want to give back and do some good when travelling, yet they are unknowingly fueling the problem. In countries like Cambodia, children are often taken from their parents and placed in orphanages in order to attract the tourist dollar. A lot of orphanages are habitually conducted by dishonest business operators who do more harm than good.
10| Give back through sustainable initiatives
There are plenty of ways to give back through sustainable initiatives when travelling – like ecotourism and microfinancing. Ecotourism is tourism that has a primary focus on exotic natural environments, which is intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife. Microfinancing refers to providing people living in poverty with a much-needed hand up. You can help by providing smalls loans to families through established organisations such as Good Return and the Shinta Mani Foundation, helping them start their own business and leave poverty behind.